Director: Dhavala Satyam; Voiceovers: Arun Govil, Vindoo Dara Singh, Vasava Prasanna Amgadi, Bharat Kamal; Rating: ***
The world knows the story of Luv and Kush, the son's of Rama, as a suffix to Ramayana. In reality it is a correcting rejoinder to Ramayana, where Ram, with an imperialist mindset to subjugate all other kingdoms, starts the Ashwamegha Yagya. The only one who stand up and resist his army, are his own teenage sons, born from a wife he had ruthlessly discarded during her pregnancy.
The kingdom of Ayodhya, challenged by Lava and Kush, shamelessly sends one brave warrior after another. After Shatrughan is defeated, Laxman goes. When even he falls, Ram himself takes up the challenge, but for the intervention of Sita in the end.
This ancient story is well known. But what is not looked into is the transformation of Ram, the hero of Ramayana, into an arrogant villain ready to fight even kids for the preservation of his vanity. This animation film stays true to the original story, and its release now, considering the fears of communal tensions flaring up in the name of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, is timely.
Though touted as the most expensive 2D animation film in India, it lacks global animation standards. Yet, compared to animation films in India, both in terms of story and animation, it is a far superior and successful attempt.
Arun Govil, who played the role of Ram in the serial Ramayana, gives the voiceover for Ram in the Hindi version of this film. Dara Singh's son Vindoo Dara Singh takes over the voice of Hanuman from him.
Another highlight of the film is its music by the late L. Vaidyanathan, who sang and gave the music for Malgudi Days, and passed away just after composing for the film. The songs sung by stalwarts like Yesudas, Shankar Mahadevan and Sadhana Sargam are devotional and melodious.
The film is also a two-in-one package, as the entire story of Ramayana is recreated in its songs. However, to a keen observer, this adds to the unintended satire on Ram, that while the songs eulogise Ram, what he does with his own wife based on a stray comment by a subject and his willingness to fight children, makes him out not to be the 'Maryada Purushottam Ram' (the best upholder of values Ram), but a vain, arrogant and ruthless king.
Hindu fundamentalists in India who are usually up at arms against anyone desecrating Ram's name, cannot do anything as it is based on the well revered story of Ram's own sons and his actions.
Though the film misses many nuances and emotional moments, its release at this time will hopefully remind everyone that man, even if it is the reincarnation of god, is faulty. And there is no greater stupidity than using the name of such a faulty god to cause violence.
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