Written and directed by Kamal Haasan
Hindi dialogue by Manohar Shyam Joshi
Music by Ilayaraja
Cinematography by Tirru
For those of you who have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’ you will remember that one the best screenplay moments is Matt Damon’s introduction. A super hype for his intro is built up twice and when he actually arrives it’s a simple, subtle scene of screenplay excellence. Believe it or not ‘Hey Ram’ has at least 5 such scenes if I’ve got the calculation right.
This is surely a movie for the hardcore ‘movie man’. In case you begin to feel the tang of the film, you will be taken back in time for a long, dreamy and miraculous ride for 200 awesome minutes of pure cinema.
The movie is a semi-fictional tale of Saketh Ram (Kamal Haasan), an archeologist whose story travels from the Indus valley civilization’s left overs to the riots in Calcutta from where on it moves to the Brahmin society of Madras and goes on to Maharajas in Maharashtra and ends with the Jama Masjid ‘December 6’.
Even with the star studded cast Kamal is the only guy with considerable screen time. Shahrukh Khan (playing Amjad Ali Khan), the impeccable Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Girish Karnad, Naserrudin Shah, Rani Mukherjee, Hema Malini and Vasundhara Das keep moving in and out of the line whenever the script requires.
The fine part of the film is that of being a personal story of a moderately religious man losing his Bengali wife in a religious riot, which leads to him meeting a few rebellious characters who from then on determine or influence his way of thought and pushing him to the limit of contemplating the killing of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’.
The production values and the level of detail are what I would refer to as one of ‘the best’ in Indian cinema so far. The minor Bengali posters on the walls, the building and theater names, the costumes, the way people speak, other cultural references, the automobiles and of course the sets of all the historic buildings were just PERFECT.
The Maestro’s background score makes it an Indian film to show off and of course the Tirru cinematography was luminous, dull and radiant as the mood required.
One of those sheer brilliant flicks where every technician and actor does nothing less than what is referred to as ‘splendid’, but, only for the audience to misapprehend the film.
Rating – √√√√1/2 – ‘The Pianist’ of India
P.S. its better if you watch the Hindi version