Hey RamThe next day, at the Maharaja’s palace grounds, crowd has gathered to watch a polo match in which Saket and Abhyankar are playing. Mythili and Lalwani have come too. All is well until Abhyankar meets with an accident wherein his horse collapses on his trunk. People rush and retrieve him out and admit him to the hospital.

Cut to the stable of the collapsed horse. Saket and the Maharaja are observing the horse on the floor. The Maharaja asks if he could put down the horse and gets a confirmation from the doctor. It is a practice in race circles wherein a fallen horse is put down if it is found it can’t run any more. He takes his revolver out and kills the horse after having the eyes of all the other horses covered. He then tells Saket:

“This Kathiawar horse once was great and useful to me. But now it burdens itself and others. I think it would amount to kindness to put him to sleep”

Again, Mahatma Gandhi is referred here. The Maharaja suggests that once Gandhi was of use during the independence struggle, but is more of a liability now and it is best to get rid of him. The other horses (read Gandhians) must not know about the murder.

Hey RamSaket and the King come to the hospital to visit Abhyankar. Saket finds here that the King has got Lalwani a good job in exchange for his service. The Maharaja goes inside to meet Abhyankar as Saket waits outside along with Lalwani and Mythili. Lalwani is happy that Saket had helped him put his past back, and thanks him. “Guha” then bids adieu to Saket and leaves. Mythili breaks into tears upon which Saket asks the reason. Mythili says that she is lucky that Saket has survived the accident on the field. She says that she is going to say something that her ancestors never would have said to their spouses and says “I love you”. Saket says he loves her too and that is why he is disturbed. He is not able to digest the fact that he is going to leave this innocent girl suffering in a few weeks.

Hey RamSaket says his hands are stained with blood and he should not be with her. She says that it is because of his passion for hunting and it is natural for a tiger (symbol for masculinity yet again) to hunt and kisses him. Little does she know that Saket is not hunting animals but himself is an animal that has hunted a lot of humans and is going to go on. He sympathizes for the girl whose innocence adds more and more to his guilt and he asks if he would find peace if he tells her everything about him. She asks him to tell her everything after he has met Abhyankar. Saket looks at the toe ring on his finger, removes it and slips it onto Mythili’s finger. This ironical shot not only shows his acceptance of Mythili as his wife but also the relinquishment of his last traces of Grihasta. He tries to kiss Mythili as the Maharaja interrupts.

Saket learns that Abhyankar has become quadriplegic and wants to see him alone immediately. He leaves her and goes into Abhyankar’s room. Abhyankar lies on his bed unable to even move. Saket tries to offer some consolation which is turned down by Abhyankar. He says that he has lost his body and now he is submitting his untainted soul to Saket. He asks Saket to promise that he will fulfill their duty for the sake of their religion, ideology and for the motherland. He also asks him to vouch that no blood relation shall stop him from attaining his goal which hesitantly Saket does.

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He asks him to gather the parcel from the adjacent table and place it on his chest. Saket takes the parcel that is kept in front of the Hanuman (tearing his chest to reveal Rama) photo and places it on Abhyankar’s chest. The most evident analogy between Abhyankar and Hanuman is placed here as Abhyankar asks him to tear open the package which Saket follows. Saket finds the gun that Abhyankar had chosen for his mission in the box. Abhyankar asks him to take possession of the gun. He also instructs Saket that he will be telegrammed the details of the mission by the Maharaja and he has to carry it out without fail. Abhyankar has torn his chest and given his soul to Saket.

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As the event ends, Abhyankar informs Saket that he is being summoned to come alone by the Maharaja. Ram moves away from Mythili with reluctance. Our “Guha” is also disappointed at the separation. The image of the falling Ravana is now juxtaposed with that of Abhyankar leading him to the Maharaja. Abhyankar is the analogue of Hanuman in the film and leads our Rama to “his Ravana” in the same way as Hanuman leads Rama to his nemesis Ravana via the sea between Rameshwaram and Lanka.

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Rama is able to see the “sea” as Abhyankar takes him through. The wet floor transforms into solid tiles as they proceed representing the more “mechanical” version (uncompassionate) of the Ramayana is about to take place. Saket gets dizzy and faints (sea-sickness?). The effect of the Soma has reached its peak.

As he wakes up, he is taken to the Maharaja’s secret chamber where a crowd has gathered. What follows is a very instigating and intriguing surreal sequence. The Maharaja’s room is decorated with traditional Indian weaponry characteristic of the Maratha kingdom. Portraits of Hindu nationalist Veer Savarkar and racist Hitler hang on the wall. The Maharaja’s ideologies do not digress much from these historic characters either.

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The Maharaja gives a briefing of the gathering.

“Gentlemen, if our Hindu soul is to survive, this Mahatma must die. The misfortune of this Hindu nation is its worst enemy is a practicing Hindu! Right from beginning, he has been taking their side and neglecting the people of his own religion. For centuries we have been worshipping the valour and its accompanying instruments He now wants us to change our form of worship and pray to a new God, himself, and a new religion, Ahimsa. My brave men, it should be done as a symbolic act and not as the revenge. But to show the world and the country what a Hindu is capable of.”

Saket is unsteady as he listens to the briefing. He recollects Abhyankar’s words about Gandhi as the equivalent images appear along with it:

“He has nurtured the young green plant to make it a tree”

Gandhiji stands in front of a green background and pours what seem to be grains of wheat onto the ground. A green thorny cactus plant sprouts up and grows out of bounds. Note here that green is the traditional colour used to represent Muslims and Saffron is the colour used to represent the Hindus.

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Saket imagines Gandhi to be nourishing the green plants (read Muslims) which has grown to become a threatening issue. It is also interesting to note the whole film, especially the from the part after Aparna’s murder carries a Saffron tinge indicating the Hindu nationalist rage that has crept up into Saket.

The Maharaja stands in front of the Kali picture, the symbol of demon slaying, as he chooses a chit from a closed container. He opens it and calls out Abhyankar’s name. Abhyankar seems happy and thanks god for that. Clearly, it is the selection of men who are going to carry out the job of killing Gandhi.

The next name that is called out is that of Saket’s. As Abhyankar, bit disgusted at Saket’s marriage, points out that he is a married man and won’t get involved. Saket objects, doddering to centre stage which is appreciated by the Maharaja. As Raja speaks about the selection, Saket sees Aparna herself speaking:

“Brave men, today is Vijayadashami. It seems like it’s the will of Bhavani that it shall be a Ram who should do the job. Come, my Rams. Choose your weapons.”

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Saket and Abhyankar take the guns they need. Our Rama has got his bow. He takes the pistol and fires at the image he has formed in his mind – Gandhiji sitting in front of the Pakistan flag surrounded by the statue of the three monkeys, which Saket speaks about on the flight, a Spinning wheel and presumably a Koran. The image shatters as Saket finalizes his quest for slaying his Ravana.

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The shattered image leads to the Hindu Swastika (on a “green” background) transforming into the German Swastika (on a red background), as made famous by the Nazis, indicating that a Third-Reich like Hindu fanaticism is being evolved and Hindu supremacy is intended to be established wiping out the Muslims from the country, like Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

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The German Swastika later transforms into a lotus shaped figure (on an orange-ish background) which I will not assign any meaning to and will leave if for you to decipher!

Cut to the Maharaja’s palace. Saket is watching a dance as the effect of the Soma persists. As the leader of the dance troupe approaches him, he sees Aparna dancing in a similar fashion back in his house at Calcutta. He tries to touch her, but is unable to. Disappointed, he approaches Mythili. He tries to force Mythili for a kiss as Abhyankar watches on. She tries to get away. He takes her upstairs and passionately kisses her. His masculinity has returned.

Another surreal sequence begins as they get onto the bed. As Saket closes in on her, the bed collapses and falls into space and looks like it is approaching the ruins of Mohanjo-Daro. They fall through thin air making love.

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Hey RamHe knows that it his the last time he is making love and it is the road to ruins from now on. The images of Mohanjo-Daro and free fall indicate ruining of his future course of life and his present nonchalance towards it. Saket tears off his shirt hinting his high masculine coefficient at this point as he pounces on Mythili.



He kisses her passionately. The image of Mythili lying on the bed under her blanket morphs into that of a large rifle under the same blanket.

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Hey RamSaket uncovers the gun and kisses it passionately. He is in love with it. The concept of the “mechanical Rama” is evident once more. Additionally, this is the transformation of Saket from a person who wants to get back into peaceful marital life into one who is in determined to carry on in his self destructive mission to satisfy his political ideologies and avenge his wife’s death.


Hey RamAfter he has made love, Saket sits at the piano and plays it mechanically. The image of the piano in the film comes for one last time and produces a very creepy and robotic tone suggesting that this is the last time he connects to his wife and the connection, too, has been a very ritualistic and mechanical one. He stares at Mythili, who is lying on the bed in an almost-angry fashion and gets up to tie his long locks back. He is imposing in stature. Saket is now at the pinnacle of masculinity. He only has to slay his inner demons now and then the outer.


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Hey RamThe plane lands at Bombay Airport. Saket notices Shriram Abhyankar as they proceed to gather their luggage. He is in a completely new attire. He greets Saket with a “Vande Mataram”. He carries some suitcases as Saket introduces him to Mythili. He interrupts Saket and introduces himself as Ramakrishna Pandey, clearly assuming anonymity. Saket introduces Mythili to Pandey as his wife. Pandey is amazed and disappointed at Saket’s “mellowing down”. He is not happy with Saket putting his past behind him. He almost asks why Saket had dome so but restrains himself to asking when he had married. As Saket mentions that it has just been two months, Pandey greets Mythili as a formality and the three walk towards the car. Pandey asks her if she would like to join the hunting party with the Maharaja the next day. She turns down the offer reporting that she is a vegetarian (again the meekness of Mythili is evident). After a vernacular joke about vegetarianism and Hinduism, they get in to the car specially sent for Saket by the Maharaja.

Mythili asks how people can kill animals as both the men justify it. She asks if it would be right if the animals decide to start killing people for which Saket replies that first the animals have to learn to hold a gun. She offers an alternate argument about a wolf that carries off a human kid. She asks would that be correct. Pandey replies that the moral correctness depends on whether you are the human or the wolf as he changes his dark glasses for a transparent one. He has changed back to Abhyankar from Pandey. Clearly, there is a parallel struck between the ongoing argument and the Hindu-Muslim clash. The men are of the opinion that the hunting, which began during their first meeting in Calcutta, will be clear to Gandhians, such as Mythili herself, only if they stand in the victim’s boots. They leave the station.

The next day at the Maharaja’s hunting grounds, Abhyankar asks if Saket likes Deer meat or Rabbit meat for which Saket replies that he is a vegetarian and hunting is just a passion. The Maharaja is surprised and asks Saket

“Only passion, no hunger eh? Just the need to kill.”

Hey Ramsuggesting Saket’s political leanings have become stronger than personal revenge. The Maharaja is impressed and thinks he is the kind of man for their job. They leave the estate after a group photograph. The photograph again, as in the party at Karachi, fades to grayscale indicating that the stories behind them will be never revealed by Saket to his family.

Their car arrives at a closed railway crossing and the car stops. Abhyankar asks if he should go have the gates opened to which the Maharaja replies:

“l said all the doors now are closed for Rajas like me. So what is the use of opening only this door?”

The point made here refers to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel’s efforts to banish kingship in India and integrate all the princely states to form a Pan-Indian political rule. The kings are truly out of place in the Indian governmental system.

Hey RamThe Maharaja asks Abhyankar to call the man selling Papad to which Abhyankar says that Papad is a poor man’s food. The king again makes a wisecrack that Maharajas will have to learn to eat Papad in Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel’s rule! The vendor comes to the car as Saket watches somewhere else. The Maharaja buys the whole lot of Papads and pays the vendor a handsome amount. He condescends on the vendor and says that he will be grateful that he prospered because of a fading king and wonders if the vendor could count that sum of money. The vendor is quick to reply that counting loads of money is what he did in Karachi before the riots there. It is only now that Saket notes that the vendor is none but his old friend Lalwani. He is shocked and delighted at the same time. He had never imagined that Lalwani, who was one of the richest businessmen in Karachi, would be selling Papad for meager amounts of money.

Saket introduces him to the Maharaja as an industrialist when Lalwani stops him. Saket learns that Lalwani has lost his office, shop and his family during the riots. He has lost his elder kid in a refugee camp due to Cholera while the small one was lost in a crowd. Lalwani adds that Saket will not understand his plight since he is a South India to which Saket tells the ugly truth about Aparna. Lalwani is the representative symbol of Hindus in Pakistan. Saket’s apprehensions had become true. The Hindus in Pakistan are unsafe, thanks to Gandhi. He takes Lalwani along with him to his place.

Hey RamIt is Vijayadashami. Lalwani is drunk to his heart’s content. Mythili offers him a sweet that he drops down. As he tries to pick it up to eat, Saket grabs it and throws it away. Lalwani is disappointed and says that bygones are bygones indicating his escape from the past. Just then, Abhyankar offers him what it seems to be alcohol I a cup and asks him to drink. Upon his hesitation and Mythili’s efforts to stop Saket, Abhyankar urges Saket to drink it after he tells him it is just Soma (The drink of the gods), the drink that comes along with the festival. Saket drinks it up as Mythili seems a tad disappointed. They all go to the event of burning the mammoth idol of Ravana by Rama. This is headed by the Maharaja himself. There is a huge crowd at the place. The maharaja starts the proceedings as the large 10-headed figure starts burning. People start the loud chants of “Victory to Sri Ram” and celebrate.

Hey RamIt would be ideal now to introduce the biggest allegory that runs in the film and intensifies from this point onwards. The whole film is laid on the structure of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Saket is the Rama figure of the story. “Saket” takes up the meaning of “Ayodhya” also. Thus Saket is a representation of the Ayodhya Rama in the film. Saket has lost his wife Aparna in the riots in a similar fashion to the original Rama who loses Sita to Ravana. Ironically, in contrast to the ideal traits of the epic hero, out hero Saket Ram is an imperfect Rama – A Rama that drinks Soma, a Rama who has remarried after his wife’s death and a Rama who has been unable to rescue his wife. Also “Mythili” is another name for Sita – our Rama’s second Sita. Lalwani is the Guha figure of the story whom Saket brings home irrespective of his present social position, similar to Rama declaring that Guha is his brother even though he was born in a lower caste. The references will increase and will be pointed out at relevant places.

Hey RamThis Vijayadashami is about to change it all. The Soma has got onto Saket’s head. He feels his masculinity as he watches the Ravana idol burn. He feels as if he has regained his masculinity and twists his moustache, now definitely representing his manhood. He looks at Mythili, her inviting lips. He approaches her for the first time sensually. As he tries to touch her, her image transforms into the blind little girl he had seen in Calcutta. He is shocked and moves back just to trip on one of the people he killed. He is haunted by the unexpected hallucinations. He realizes that it is the drink that had brought about the momentary masculinity, that is now gone. As the idol of the demonic Ravana burns, Saket realizes that he has to first slay his inner demons before he can go about slaying his Ravana – Mahatma Gandhi, the man responsible for his wife’s disappearance.

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Hey RamCut to Srirangam. The contrast of situations between Bengal and the south once more. Mythili is speaking on the phone with her mother. She informs that Mr. Chari’s prediction about Saket returning home was spot on and he had returned safe and sound. She indicates that he looks like the Tamil poet Bharathiyar with his moustache. This becomes an important point as will be seen in a few moments. She hangs up the phone and returns to the bedroom. Saket is getting ready to go out somewhere as she enters the room. She still maintains her distance and walks away from Saket. As she stands away from Saket, observing him, he apologizes. On asking the reason for his apology, he says it is because of his bizarre behaviour and she is too young to understand it. She demands an additional apology for that and tells that she is neither too young to understand things nor is their marriage a child marriage. She tries to assert her position in the relationship for the first time. She tries to tell Saket that she is equal to him and forms half the relationship. Bharathiyar, who never gave a thought about his wife Chellamma being an important person earlier in his life, later realized her value and also of every woman in the society. Eventually he started the feminist movement in Tamil poetry that revolutionized the position of women in the society. Thus the reference of Bharathiyar early on implies evokes a similar relation between Mythili and Saket.

What follows is seemingly a banal piece of conversation. But it is only later that we find that there is more to it. The importance of the conversation will be denoted later.

Mythili: All I knew in the beginning is that I’m your second wife. Now I know what you’ve been through. You were just three months old when your mother died. Right? You never even saw her. Right?
Saket: I have her photo though.
Mythili: But not having a mother means…
Saket: Sister Vasantha is like my mother.

She then empathizes with Saket about Aparna. A few moments later Saket draws out the picture drawn by Aparna and hands it over to Mythili and says:

“This is a piece of me. For You. I hope you don’t mind”

He explains that it is Aparna’s work. Mythili is quick to accept it and runs inside and brings out her own painting. And hands it over to Saket and, like a child, she repeats the same line as Saket above. Here again, the equality of both the spouses is stressed upon. Her painting is that of Andal, the Hindu devotee who admired Krishna, fell in love with him but never met him. This serene painting, a symbol of love, is directly in contrast with that of Aparna’s Kali whose terrifying stature and expression make her a symbol of death and violence. Thus, once again, the contrast between Aparna and Mythili and between the North and South of the country is evident here.

Hey RamShe now requests Saket to accept her as a friend (like the Krishna-Andal relationship) if not wife. She offers a handshake as Saket reciprocates. This is the first time they are close and come under the same depth in camera. Here, they are both physically and emotionally closer for the first time in the film not counting the ritualistic closeness during the marriage. She then asks is she can hug him. He accepts as if fulfilling a child’s petty wish. She hesitantly hugs him. He observer her keenness and mixed fear and is unable to help but smile. She says it is the first time. Upon asking what was, she replies that it was the first time that she saw him smile. Indeed, it was the first time he was smiling in a very long time. He is not able to believe that he smiled and looks into the mirror. He wants to look at the façade he has pulled over himself during the torturous year. He wants to see how he looked smiling. She insists that she had seen it even though it lasted for a fraction of a second. He is happy about that and smiles once again which Mythili is prompt to point out. She even calls for a hatrick after Saket smiles once more for a wisecrack from her about his smile.

He stares at her for a moment, relishing her child like innocence and her eagerness to bond but immediately feels guilty of not reciprocating the feeling. He is not able to look into her eyes and looks down. The view of the toe ring on her feet just adds to the guilt. He looks up again in her angelic face. He wants to say that he’s sorry for not caring for her and he has not been worthy of her attention. He takes his arms near her face as she places her cheek on his palm. As if consoling, he goes for a passionate hug when uncle Bhashyam interrupts.

Hey RamUncle Bhashyam calls Saket downstairs to meet Mr. Chari, the astrologist who has come a long way to meet him. Saket leaves the bedroom as he grazes Mythili for the first time. Saket goes downstairs to see everybody in the room sitting anxiously, ready for the conversation. Mr. Chari is staring at Saket’s horoscope which is objected by Saket. Upon asking the reason for his scrutiny, Mythili’s grandmother prompts Mr. Chari to tell him what he had told them. Surprised at this Saket looks at Mythili to ask if she had anything to do with this. Mythili gets a bit frustrated and denies it with a shake of her head. Mr. Chari starts explaining that since he has been working with dead bodies and skeletons there has been some force that has taken control over his thought and it can be cured by performing specific rituals. He also says that there is no scientific cure to all this and this is beyond science. Saket asks if it is beyond god too. Cornered, Mr. Chari tries to deny that only to be harshly treated by Saket. He urges Mr. Chari to go out. Saket has found out that all this arrangement is done by uncle Bhashyam in order to make Saket and others believe that he will no longer behave in such strange fashion that he had done once he performs these rituals. He even criticizes uncle Bhashyam who objects his gross faithlessness in astrology and asks Mr. Chari to leave at once which he does. Infuriated by all this, Saket hurries to his room and starts packing.

Hey RamThe helpless Mythili, fearing he may leave once again without information, requests him to inform the elders before leaving about his destination. Saket replies that they need not tell others wherever they go. Upon hearing this, she confirms if she should leave with him which Saket affirms. The hitherto far Mythili moves closer to Saket in the shot indicating the increase in closeness of their relationship. Saket asks her to pack and leave with him which she does happily.

Hey RamMeanwhile Mythili’s mother Ambujam has packed food for the travel as delivers it to them as they board the car. As Mythili’s mother hands over the food to her daughter, Saket’s mother (read aunt Vasantha, as mentioned in the “smile conversation”) prompts him to take the food during the travel. A while later, uncle Bhashyam calls out Mythili in the pretext of a blessing and asks her to use symbols to convey the name of the railway station where they are heading to so that the rest of the family can follow them. She boards the car and tries to ask the name of the railway station for which Saket gives a smile. She insists on Saket answering her for which Saket reminds her that he had smiled for a fourth time and asks her if she noticed. Saket’s smile is clearly for the fact that he has seen through their petty plan and has devised his own way to break it. They board a flight!

Hey RamOn the flight Saket is reading the book given to him by Shriram. Mythili interrupts him with hesitation and asks him if the book is some lewd novel. Saket replies that some things are done better undercover to which Mythili point out that Gandhiji has said that nothing should be hidden from the world. Saket ridicules the statement and says that her blouse looks good even though it covers. Mythili suggests that Gandhiji means words and actions should not be hidden. Upon this Saket points out to the newspaper headline that she is holding and asks her opinion about that quote by Gandhiji. The headline reads “Protect Muslims in India and then alone would I go to Pakistan to protect the Hindus”. He is unhappy with Gandhi’s incessant support to the Muslims of India. Mythili tells that whatever Mahatma says would have a firm reason and it would be beneficial to follow it, affirming the Southern image of Gandhiji as a demi-god. She adds that revenge will take one nowhere and one has to live in harmony. Saket gets turned off and says that if we are to protect the Muslims here first, the Hindus in Pakistan will be long gone. He interrupts Mythili and makes a comment about Gandhiji. And Mythili replies.

Saket: “He has three kinds of monkeys, around him. The first, will only hear Mahatma. The second keep their mouth shut. Lest they let slip some criticism against Mahatma. The third close their eyes… and pretend to live in a world of Gandhi-esque fantasy. What kind are you?”

Mythili: “Among those cronies who use proximity to Mahatma for political gains, you might find monkeys like these. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m like the three Gandhian monkeys. I’m the monkey that sees, hears, or speaks no evil. But if it be good, my eyes, ears, and my mouth are always open.”

Note the bitter adversarial relation between them. Saket’s interpretation of the three monkeys portrays the closed nature of Gandhian followers and their inability to be pragmatic whereas a more cherubic meaning is assigned by Mythili who even follows that interpretation.

Upon hearing her openness, Saket offers her the book to read and asks her to read the historical work. This time, opposite to that of their first night of marriage, it is Mythili who denies the offer and says that she does not like works of semi-fiction. Again, the equality of the sexes is emphasized. It also shows how she has grown up idolizing the great men through their biographies and works of non-fiction. Saket accepts the argument with a “Touché”. He offers her a compilation of Marathi poems, also a covered book, possibly by Veer Savarkar again. The plane flies towards Bombay amidst cloudy situations symbolic of the tough times ahead.

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14th August 1947. The birth of Pakistan. Cut to Calcutta. The nation is getting ready to celebrate independence. Saket strolls in the streets of the city. He has not informed his family about his disappearance from the house. He has grown a moustache, perhaps indicating the masculinity he has regained over the time of healing. He returns to his apartment. He looks up he can see Aparna calling him.

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Subsequently he sees his piano once more in the film dangling on a loose rope. It eventually falls and breaks down. He looks at the place where the piano had fallen. Tall grass has grown indicating the one year that has passed since Aparna’s death. The image of the piano once more underlines the relationship Saket had with his wife. The piano is no more and so is Aparna.

Hey RamHe starts wallowing in his old world as he tells the watchman that he is here to meet Aparna and starts walking towards the lift. It is a new watchman and is confused but understands that he is here to see Mr. Nair who has just moved into the apartment. He gets into the lift and relives all the good moments when Aparna and he had just moved into the apartment. He recollects the good times and Aparna’s paintings as he stares into the same flat he had lived. As Mr. Nair keeps asking what he wants, Saket keeps staring into the flat. Finally, when Saket snaps back, he can hear Mr. Nair’s words and starts the conversation.

Mr. Nair: What can I do for you? I’m from Madras Presidency too. Been here six months. But I’ve no idea who the last tenant was. All the tenants here are new. What’s the name again?
Saket: Saket Ram.
Mr. Nair: When did you see him last?
Saket: Whom?
Mr. Nair: Saket Ram.
Saket: One year ago! Exactly one year.
Mr. Nair: Please don’t get me wrong. But a year ago…, there was a massacre in this building. Your Saket Ram… Maybe he was killed? Sorry!
Saket: No. It’s all right.
Mr. Nair: Then looking for him would be futile!
Saket: No harm in searching.
Mr. Nair: What is your relationship with Saket Ram?
Saket: Like body and soul. We were very good friends.

When Mr. Nair asks when he had met Saket Ram, Saket replies that he had seen him one year ago. Here he points out that he was no more the Saket he knew – the one that was more peaceful and loving. Mr. Nair says hesitantly that Saket might have been killed in the riots for which he seems to agree and not object. He considers the original Saket dead. Mr. Nair says that it will be of no use searching for him for which Saket replies that there is no harm in searching for him suggesting his quest to rehabilitate to his former self. Upon asking his relationship with Saket Ram, he says that it was one between the body and the soul. The soul is gone, the body remains. But what is the use of the body without the soul? The search for the soul continues.

Hey RamSaket asks if he could take back Aparna’s painting that is hanging as a decoration on Mr. Nair’s wall and is given the painting. Saket holds the painting to his chest and walks back into the streets. He recollects all the great times with Aparna as he roams the city. The melodious song “Nee partha paarvai” plays on. The night is out and Saket revisits the she sites that had, just a year ago, been plagued with riots. It is totally calm and peaceful. He once again sees the images of people he had killed greeting him into the streets. Somehow, he seems to have been to immune to them and has learned to live with them. He is unshaken by the images and carries on into the settlements. He reaches the house of the little blind girl that he had seen last year. She starts speaking.

“Hey! Ram, Shall I tell you how I died? Ram, let me tell you.”

Hey RamSaket is disgusted and starts puking when a crowd of, what it seems to be, protestors calling out “Down with Gandhi! Down with Suhrawardy!” coming towards him and dragging him with them. The crowd merges onto a bigger one that seems to be gathered outside a large building and is being stopped by a group of Gandhians. In a few moments, it is revealed that Gandhiji is in the building as he opens the windows of the balcony. This is the first time we see Gandhiji (Nasseeruddin Shah) in the film though a lot has been talked about him. Interesting trivia must be presented here. Nasseeruddin Shah was turned down in the final minute for the title role in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982) which eventually was awarded to Ben Kingsley. He regains the lost chance in this film. He silences the crowd as he calls Suhrawardy to the window. At Gandhiji’s initiation, he starts delivering a showcase speech about peace among Hindus and Muslims. Saket loses temper at this and questions Suhrawardy about his responsibility during the last year’s riots. Suhrawardy tries to escape Saket’s questions diplomatically but is pinned down by Saket and the apparently supportive crowd. Realizing his situation, Suhrawardy admits that it was his responsibility and he has failed. Ironically, the crowd around is amazed and starts appreciating the apology with the cries of “Long live Mahatma Gandhi”. Saket is disgusted by the crowd as it applauds. They seem to be satisfied with the apology. He realizes that the protest was just a formality and was not heart felt at all. He is surprised at the people’s fickleness and is unable to digest people forgetting and forgiving the mishaps that had taken place.

He moves away from the place. As he moves towards a more isolated place he hears somebody asking him if he is disgusted by all this. As Saket looks up, he realizes it his old acquaintance Shriram Abhyankar, clean shaven, speaking. He informs Saket that he has been in the jail for just 10 months for none could prove his guilt. He also adds the following lines.

“Heard that lecture from Suhrawardy? And he takes support of a snake like Suhrawardy. What kind of Mahatma is this Gandhi? The public remembers nothing. Only you and I remember. This senseless flock of goat follows the old man who survives on goat milk. This flock doesn’t know that he is off to celebrate Bakrid! In between this, a theater is staged to run the state. No permission for the critics to watch it!”

Hey RamShriram hints that the foolish people do not know that there is going to be large scale massacre against the Hindus in the newly formed Pakistan whereas the Muslims in India are going to be protected in India. He is mad that nobody is questioning the happenings. As they walk the streets, they meet a drunk holding an Indian flag and shouting out “Hindu and Muslim! Brothers! Brothers!”. Shriram stops him and starts mocking him. He mentions various political rival and improbable friends for which the drunk replies “Brother”. There is a reference of goat again as in the previous passage indicating the blind followers of Gandhian politics. Shriram continues to mock the guy until he gets confused and grabs the flag from his hands. He walks away with the flag shouting the same thing as Nehru’s “Tryst of Destiny” is broadcast. It is 12.00 A. M. 15th August 1947.

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Hey RamCut to Srirangam. Saket, his uncle Bhashyam and Aunt Vasantha are traveling in a car. Saket is fully bearded and sports a long hair. He is sitting in the car without any emotion and facial expression. He sits there as if it is forced upon him without choice. This is in total dissonance with the lively and even a bit agitated Saket we have seen in Bengal. The contrast of the situations in North and South India begins here. Apparently, they are going to the house of the bride whom they have chosen for Saket to marry. It is found in the conversation that Saket’s father has passed away. As uncle Bhashyam is trying to coax Saket to accept the alliance, the latter watches an elephant chained to a pillar. The recurrent image of the elephant suggests the new world Saket is in. From an uncontrolled mad man on the loose, Saket is now more passive and in fact chained down to conform to his family’s principles.

Both his aunt and uncle express their wishes to see Saket married and have children. It is also discovered that aunt Vasantha’s husband is bed ridden for years and it will be no surprise if he dies. Saket retorts and reminds them that it is not even half a year since his wife and father passed away and it was improper to marry now. They arrive at the house.

Hey RamIt is a typical Brahmin settlement. It is peaceful. There are no ripples of the riots in this part of the country. People are more preoccupied with the practice of religion rather than the fight about it. Unlike Bengal, people live in independent houses together with all the family members. The people thrive upon superstitions, traditions and formalities for every minute thing they wish to do. They are too finicky about the cultural details around them. These people seem to be total moderates as opposed to the type of people he has been meeting in Bengal. The mellowed down attitude of the people is reflected in every activity they do. They have paintings of the more peaceful Young Krishna as opposed to the bow-bearing Rama and Durga of Bengal. It is although Saket has entered a completely new world.

Hey RamHe is greeted by the parents of the bride and called in. All the formalities done, the bride Mythili (Vasundhara Das) is called. The bride is asked to prostrate to the elders and also before Saket. As Saket blesses her he notices the toe ring on his finger and gets a bit upset. He is reminded of his inability to protect his wife and hence questions are raised about his ability and qualification to take up another. He even feels a bit guilty of that. He, however, tries to overcome that and put his past life behind.

Hey RamThe bride is asked to sing for the groom. Everyone looks on as if it were a monumental event and as if the slightest folly would result in the end of the world, again denoting their addiction towards formalities and cultural rigidity. She sings the Hindu song “Vaishnava Janato”. The song will occur again in the film and will be more relevant at that point. For now, it is just a holy song. As the song completes, we see the marriage taking place in the utmost traditional way. It is gala of an atmosphere reminiscent of the wedding parties in Francis Coppola’s Godfather movies. Saket is clean shaven again as if starting a new marital life. His looks resemble his previous self, the one before the riots.

But Saket seems to be not much interested in the marriage and is more contemplative about the partition that is taking place in the north of the country. It is as if the South is a completely different country altogether. He discusses this with his relatives over there about the situations.

Saket: Here I am. Getting married. And in Delhi… the worst political divorce ever is happening.

Hey RamJust then they hear someone cry out. Upon investigation, they find that aunt Vasantha has fainted. Saket’s friend, Etty the doctor diagnoses her as all the others watch on curiously. It is found that aunt Vasantha has not eaten and hence has fainted out of hunger. As Etty informs this, he compares aunt Vasantha’s fast with that of Mahatma Gandhi as a joke. Upon this wisecrack, the people around him get upset. Uncle Bhashyam starts blaming Etty and attributes his irreverence to his bloodline. Saket’s mother-in-law Ambujam (Hema Malini) mentions that if Mahatma fasts, freedom will be obtained whereas if the lesser mortals do that, they will just faint like aunt Vasantha. She implicitly asks Etty to not utter such things again. Etty is embarrassed. The sequence again refers to the moderate nature of the people of the family who believe whole-heartedly in Gandhiji and his principles to the point of blindly following it.

Hey RamMythili is sent into Saket’s room that night. She sees Saket reading some book sitting on the chair as she reluctantly enters. She finds that it is Gandhiji’s biography and says that it is her book. As Saket apologizes and tries to put the book away she stops him and asks his opinion about the book. He says that he does not like biographies. This is contrasted to her appreciation for the book that indicates her admiration of Gandhiji once again. The frame composition reflects the large distance between the two characters, both physically and emotionally. She tells Saket that she will change her clothes and come in a moment. She enters the next room and starts changing into a more casual wear when a lizard falls on her shoulders. She is scarred out of wits and starts shrieking at the top of her voice. As it goes on, the sounds of the shrieks turn into Aparna’s cries for help. Saket hears this and rushes towards the door. Saket bangs the door in order to get in. He feels his helplessness and calls out Aparna loudly. As Mythili opens the door after dealing with the lizard, Saket realizes the truth. He gets upset as Mythili asks who Aparna is. He goes inside the other room and shuts the door. As Mythili asks if he is all right, the others come into the room and bang the door to call Saket. Saket goes to the tap at the end of the room and drenches himself in a bucket of water. This is not only an act of desperation to snap back to reality but is also a symbol in Hindu tradition that signifies relinquishment of a kin. Saket is trying to get rid of Aparna or her memories at least.

Hey RamAnother haunting sequence occurs now in the film. As Saket settles at the end of the room, he sees the figures of the people he had killed appearing in the room and greeting him. This is followed by the image of a lizard struggling to walk in a pool of blood on the floor. The lizard is the indicator of Saket himself. The lizard’s habitat is not the floor but the walls. It never comes down unless by an accident. It is unable to walk on the slippery blood on the floor. Likewise, Saket never expected himself to come down to the level of killing people and drenching himself in blood. As a result, he is unable to get a firm foot in life and is struggling to get back to his original position. Saket cringes on observing this image and starts shivering.

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Hey RamHe loads his gun and starts for the hunt. The starting of this sequence has a beautifully shot image that looks as though a mosque is burning. In actuality, the setting behind it burns. This shot aptly sums up the rest of the sequence. The Muslim settlements start burning. Old men are killed. Innocents try to feign their religion just in order to survive. Young ones kill their elders to save their skin. Negotiations go on in vain. Amidst all this, a frenzied Saket Ram is searching for his prey. His spectacles are broken, as if to say his view and reasoning have taken a blow. He limps, he is blood stained, but looks are far from important at this moment.

Another Hindu concept running parallel in the film is the rights and duties of the male of the species. As a man, one has to protect his wife from evil which is in essence the responsibility of masculinity. As a man who was helpless in saving his wife from the clutches of evil, Saket is hurt by his impotence and uselessness. Thus, he is determined to justify his masculinity and is out to slay the violators.

Hey RamHe comes across Altaf’s shop. He tries to shoot at it and realized that it is a fruitless effort. After a moment, he sees Altaf himself tries to flee from the Hindu occupied area. Altaf too sees Saket and tries to reason even though he knows it is futile. Saket finishes the formalities, but also kills an innocent old man who tries to stop him. Everything is now trivial to Saket who carries on into the streets. He sees a young man killing an elder Muslim. When he approaches him, the young man prostrated and salutes. Saket is disgusted but fires only towards the sky. The boy escapes and Saket approaches the dying old man to finish the formalities. But as he shoots, he finds the pistol empty and starts to reload. The old man calls mutters that Saket has been sent by God to save him and summons someone from inside. Upon noticing movement from inside, Saket leaves the old man alone and enters the house. He looks up as if expecting a man, but is taken aback when he sees a small blind girl holding her doll. She murmurs “Grandpa, I’m very scared”. He is shocked and even goes blank. All he wants to do now is to get away from that place. He avoids touching that girl and hurries out of that place. It’s vintage Kamal all over this scene.

Hey RamAs he hurries out of the place, he comes across a group of Hindu fanatics. He points his pistol at their leader who reciprocates. He notices the Upanayanam, the holy thread on Saket’s chest and realizes that Saket is a friend not a foe. He introduces himself to Saket in the traditional Hindu salute:



“Abhivadaye vishwamitra aagamarshana kaushika, triyashreya pravaranvitha kaushika gothra, aapasthambha sutra, yajusshakha adhyayee, Shriram Abhyankar sharma nama aham asmibhu”
(Of Kaushik, son of Vishwamitra…Of Kaushik, thrice blessed…Of Kaushik, the high priest of Yajur Veda… Of Kaushik, I bear my lineage. I am Shri Ram Abhyankar.)

He is Shriram Abhyankar (Atul Kulkarni), the pivotal character in the film. He realizes that pistols are luxuries and his opponent is indeed a man of higher class. He shows his own holy thread and hands over a newspaper to Saket and says

“Vande Mataram Bandhu, Would you like to hunt with us? I edit this news paper. This has my address on it. Come and meet me. We have a lot to do. “.

As Saket leaves, Shriram stops him to say:

“Don’t go like this. People won’t know what you are. Good Hunting”

He puts the holy Tilak on Saket’s forehead, as Saket leaves the scene with the newspaper. Saket runs to escape the madness. He notices that the madness is not confined to the Hindus and Muslims alone. He witnesses a group of Sikhs slay a young Muslim lad. He runs from the scene.

Soon, dawn breaks. There are eagles all over the city praying on the corpses while municipality workers race against them to gather the corpses. It is like peace after a storm. Saket strolls and avoids the eyes of the police. He observes civilians trying to identify the corpses of their dear ones.

Hey RamAs Saket steps off the street, he notices an elephant standing alone. On a second sight he notices the mahout dead and lying besides it. The elephant is helpless without its master. It shakes him. It reminds him of his own situation. So far, he has been under the care of his wife who is the only person he needs to answer to. She has been his only master. After she is slain, Saket is helpless and is only as good as the orphaned elephant. He breaks down.

Hey RamHe dodders to the address that Abhyankar gave him and finds that even the police is there. He tries to hide when suddenly, he feels someone calling him. It is Shriram Abhyankar, hiding among the ruins in the backyard of the building. He calls Saket over and informs him that the police is looking for him. Both of them walk away from the building. As they escape from the area, Saket finds that Abhyankar too, is a Tanjore Maratha Brahmin and hence speaks Tamil. This is a long shot that spans around 70 seconds. Delighted, Shriram asks if he had a good time “hunting” the day before. Saket is bewildered and explains that he was never like that and he was always a peace loving person. It was the murder of the wife that pushed him to this limit. Abhyankar interrupts him to tell Saket about a similar happening to his sister. He adds by telling that nobody naturally intends to kill but it is the circumstances that push one to the drastic limits.

He then asks Saket to point out who is responsible for all this loss. He asks him:

“Is it Bengal premier Suhrawardy? No. Is it Barrister Mohammad Ali Jinnah? No. There is only one man my friend. Barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. From the beginning, in the name of Khilafat movement and such stuff, he has nurtured the young green plant to make it a tree.”

Hey RamThe last line occurs once more in the film where it is clearer about its clauses. Saket tries to leave the place when Abhyankar stops him to ask where he is going. Saket says that he is going to surrender himself to the police. Abhyankar retorts by saying that no one is fit to punish them. They are on their own. They strike up a conversation as Abhyankar tries to escape the police by getting on a tram. Abhyankar speaks as Saket watches a dog inside the stomach of a slaughtered cow. This shot is reminiscent of the shot of the dog carrying the severed arm in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), both dealing with war torn cities.

Abhyankar: “If killing is wrong, then so is war. So is it wrong to fight in an army during the war.”
Saket: “But I’m not a soldier. I’m a civilian.”
Abhyankar:”This is a civil war, brother. And now, we are all soldiers.”

Abhyankar hands over a covered book to Saket and asks him to read without revealing it to anyone. As he indicated that this banned book is by Veer Savarkar, who was himself, a staunch Hindu activist, police spot Abhyankar and try to catch him. He bids adieu to Saket and escapes by jumping into the Ganges. Saket watches on.

Saket decides to vacate his Calcutta house and packs up. He is unable to see the helpers manhandling the piano during the packing. The piano that has so far signified his relationship with his wife is now dangling for its life. Saket is unable to bear this and asks the taxi driver to leave the place. As the taxi starts to take Saket out of Calcutta, the piano falls onto the ground and breaks. Aparna is dead and gone.

Hey RamAs he leaves the city he notices the elephant from the previous scene going on a rampage with the stick that is used to pacify it. As if carrying a weapon, the creature is out of control and is on the loose. He again sees himself in the elephant and believes that his own madness and the outing with his weapon in the recent past are because of the murder of his mahout. As the screen fades, we hear the Tamil holy passage “Padham kondu nadathum vazhkkai” being played. It translates to:

On foot my life proceeds without a mahout.
Nor goad to pierce and direct me about.
Like a demented rogue elephant I roam.
O! Lord of Sriranga praised in the four Vedas since times unknown.
Unto thee I surrender.

The bridged audio plays on as the visuals transport us to the temples of South of India.

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Hey RamAugust 16, Calcutta. Saket arrives at the railway station and takes a taxi to his house. He is surprised to see what is going on around: A large scale riot with masses of people running here and there. He also sees Altaf, his tailor among the Muslim rioters. Altaf recognizes Saket and makes way for the taxi to go. Upon inquiry, Saket finds out that the riots are indeed due to the partition claim by the Muslims of Calcutta.

The taxi manages to get out of the riot and reaches the calm and serene surroundings of Saket’s apartments. Saket asks the guard to bring his luggage up as he goes to his floor via the lift. He finds that many shops had to close because of the riot. He reaches his flat and plays a prank on Aparna (Rani Mukherjee) who gets frightened and takes up a pistol. When Saket reveals who it is, she gives his a slap and tells him that there is a telegram for him. He asks her casually whether it says that his father is ill or if he is no more. She says that it is worse than that and reads out the telegram. We find out that his father has called him back and has asked Saket to marry a girl they have chosen for him. It is here that we find that Saket is cut off from his parents and has left them for good. He has not even mentioned about Aparna and his later life. On Aparna’s apprehension, Saket promises that he will never marry another girl.

Hey RamHe kisses her as they both lean on the piano as Saket plays it. This is the second sight of the piano in the film. The image of the piano plays a vital part in describing Saket and will be recurrent in the story. A moment later, both of them are seen playing the piano together. They play it with such care and love. Their music is mellifluous and in harmony with each other. They make love as the melodious music proceeds.

Hey RamSaket gets up from the bed and presents her the Thirumangalyam, the holy necklace that he had bought for her. Upon asking for a Bengali styled marriage, Saket takes the red ink pen from the table and puts a mark on her forehead. When Saket asks for reciprocation, Aparna takes out one of her Mettis (Toe rings) and slips it into his finger. The toe ring is supposed to be a symbol of marriage and the well being of the husband. The toe ring forms a vital part of the narrative and will occur regularly. Saket asks for something to eat, Aparna indicates that the shops are closed and there is only bread and butter in the house. He asks her to get ready to go to the market to get something to eat for which she replies that she is scared to go out. Saket ridicules her and starts for the market.

It should be noted here that the film has heavy overtones of religion, especially Hinduism and a lot of parallels are drawn between Saket’s life and the Hindu culture. These will be denoted whenever they appear. Hindu tradition mentions for vital stages of a man’s lifeBalya (Childhood), Grihasta (Marital life), Vanaprastha (Exile/alienation) and Sanyasa (Relinquishing worldly things for salvation). Saket has just entered the second stage, Grihasta and is in the marital bliss. But he is unaware that this stage is a short lived one.

Hey RamSaket takes his bike and sets out for the market. In some street he notices a young Sikh girl being chased by a mob. He manages to get the girl on his bike and takes her home. He slowly learns that the riots have worsened and it is unsafe to be in the streets. He returns to his apartments and finds out that something is wrong. He sees a corpse on the ground floor and runs to his flat. He finds that a group of men, led by Altaf are trying to break in into his apartment. Saket is held down as Altaf breaks in through the window. Saket tries to resist but is hurt. He is pushed harshly on the piano and lands on his face. He vents his anger on the piano and pounds his face on it. The music this time is anything but sweet. The somber and even a bit creepy tone reflects his state of distress. He is able to hear the cries of Aparna – “Ram, Ram”. He somehow coaxes one of the rioters to set him free and manages to kill the latter by pushing him out of the balcony. He reloads his pistol to shoot the rioters but is too late. Everyone has left. He rushed towards Aparna to check. She is found raped and her throat slit. Saket Ram is helpless and cannot even call the ambulance. Blood sprouts out of her throat as Saket tries to close it. Aparna passes away. Saket is mad. He cries, but it is of no use. He looks out at one of the dead rioters and with a shriek of anger he starts his rampage for revenge. This would mark his entering into the Vanaprastha from Grihasta. Saket would be exiling his true self to avenge his wife.

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The film begins with a dedication, voiced by Kamal himself, to Ananthu, friend, philosopher and guide to Kamal Haasan. The titles roll up with the song “Raghupathy Raghav Rajaram” being sung in a very unconventional, war cry-like fashion in the background that defines the pace of the film. .The credits proceed as the visuals begin in monochrome.

The year is 1999. A dark room. The room opens as the doctor enters. A few sunrays barely make into the room revealing the elderly figure that is lying on the bed. He is surviving on an artificial supply of oxygen. Who is, in a few seconds, revealed to be the old man’s grandson, Ram, is sitting next to him. Suprabhatam, which is essentially a wake up call for God, is being played in the background as though waking the old man up. This is the starting point for the string of references to God and man’s relation to God in the film.

Hey Ram The doctor asks why the room is not lit. Ram replies that he has never seen his grandfather in the open or even in light upon which the doctor remarks Gandhiji’s habit of keeping the lights on even during his sleep. Ram is quick to reply that his grandfather has always liked darkness and he is no Mahatma. However, he is a good man. The small conversation sets up the contrast between the grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi which is to be observed during the rest of the movie. As the conversation proceeds, it is revealed that Ram is a celebrated writer and is very close to his grandfather. It is also found that the grandfather is of unstable mind and hence isolated. Nobody except his wife has seen him in his normal state. He has not opened himself to anyone except his grandson, that too in the form of stories which the latter regards no more than figments of imagination. The doctor picks up one of the three monkey skulls placed on the adjacent table in front of “Gandhiji’s three monkeys” and asks Ram about it. The dark light, that is suggestive of his exclusion from the outside world and his hidden past, slowly starts getting adulterated with bright light as he recounts his past. This bright light falls on the old man’s face as it is revealed that he was an archeologist at the Mohanjo-Daro ruins. The image of the dying man’s face is juxtaposed with that of a skull at an excavation site indicating the meeting point of his future and past.

Hey RamHey Ram

Note the chromatic shift from grayscale to full colour indicating the complete opening up of the old man’s past. Such colour swings will be recurrent during the rest of the film.

Hey RamThe year is 1946. An excavation site. Saket Ram (Kamal Haasan) and Amjad Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) are digging through the layers of the past. Eventually, Saket will be excavating his own true self, mirroring his profession, revealing many hitherto hidden layers within him. Saket is clean shaven and wears spectacles whereas Amjad is bearded. General Wheeler calls Saket from up above and asks him to pack up. Upon asking the reason, Wheeler says it is because of the communal riots as a result of the ongoing discussion about the partition of the country. Both are turned off but decide not to lose their temper as Mr. Wheeler shouts “It’s pack up time”. It is as though communal riots have become a commonplace and it is no news that a new one has broken out. Amjad points out that the Indus Valley civilization was miles ahead of the present one for they had much advanced thoughts but never had to fight about God and religion. So both decide to call it a day and head towards Karachi.

Archaeological Society of India Recreational Club, Karachi. A party like atmosphere is around. Saket enters alone whereas Amjad alights from the car with his wife Nafisa and kids. Amjad’s father asks both Amjad and Saket not to go out of control and return home quickly. Everything is cordial between Saket and Amjad’s family. We also come to know that Nafisa ties a Rakhi every year to Saket and Amjad is like a brother to Saket. This point will be elaborated later in the movie. We also meet Lalwani, a jocular Sindhi industrialist who is friends to both of them. There are jovial discussions about the partition and everybody seems to have an opinion. It is here that the background of both Amjad and Saket are revealed. Saket is a Tamil Iyengar from South India who is married recently to a Bengali woman. Amjad is a Pathan who had stayed who had finished his graduation in the Madras Christian College along with Saket and Lalwani, hence his knowledge of Tamil. His wife Nafisa is also a Tamil Muslim. This is revealed in a nice bit of dialogue between Amjad and a certain Mr. Bright:

Mr. Bright: I always wonder how Lalwani and Amjad can speak in a Dravidian language…
Amjad: Same Alma Mater sir.

Hey RamThis reply from Amjad is not just indicative about their college but the country itself. This reference of India as an “alternate mother” occurs throughout the film. This piece of conversation will ring loud during the final parts of the movie and will be reminded there. Just then, a call comes from Calcutta from Saket’s wife Aparna. Amjad and Lalwani fool around with the phone and even manage to tell a few lies about Saket to Aparna, all in good spirits. After the call, the three booze and start celebrating. The scene basically establishes the affluence and friendship of the three men from different religious and geographical backgrounds. Saket plays the piano for the first time in the film. A song “Ramar aanalum, Babur aanalum…” ensues which tells about the importance of friendship over religion. A lot of photographs are taken too.

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Kamal Haasan’s body of works can be broadly divided into two categories: Hey Ram and non Hey Ram. Such is the effort, brilliance and technique put into the work. An epic film does not necessarily mean high production values and a period setting. Any film whose intentions and strides are of mammoth proportions qualifies to suit the genre. Hey Ram, by all means, not only qualifies but even has the power to top the genre.

Movies that last a lifetime are the ones that are rooted in the culture of their country of origin, but deal with themes that are contemporary and universal at the same time. By culture, I not only mean traditions and practices of the country but also its inescapable history, politics, its figures, its events and the social impact of those.  A prime example would be Florian Donnersmarck’s Das Leben Der Anderen (2006) (aka The Lives of Others), a film that firmly had a foot in political chaos of the post war Germany, its political ideologies and restrictions imposed due to the same, but spoke about the universal concept of art and humanity. Not over a handful of movies have come out from our country that handles these issues with solemnity. One such film, Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram is arguably the best Indian film of all time.

In the following work, I would try to dissect the film and present an analysis of the film, though in no way, exhaustive. The film is fraught with symbols, metaphors and allegories that become clear only on multiple viewings. I have tried to cover them wherever applicable. I have tried to give the key images while trying to explain those scenes and also the conversation transcript wherever necessary. English translation of the same has been provided for universal access. Please feel free to agree/disagree at comments section of the relevant posts. I have provided a downloadable version of the same analysis at the end of the series of posts.

It would be of interest to note that the film was being made when another Kamal film had already kicked off, Marudhanayagam. So, naturally Kamal was into a thorough research on the freedom movement and its obscured characters. Hey Ram presents one such, perhaps fictional, character that was, though not instrumental in changing the course of history, an inlet to the mind of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

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