18 April, 2021

Hey Ram, Hey Nathuram

'Hey Ram' plays on a long-suppressed animus against Gandhi-expectedly rousing the rabble on both sides

Hey Ram, Hey Nathuram

It’s a moment in the film that leaves you unnerved. The year is 1947 and a carnage is on in the streets of Calcutta. As Hindus and Muslims fight it out, a staunch member of the Hindu group boldly proclaims: "There’s one man responsible for all this blood-spilling-Barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi." This then is the burden Kamalahaasan’s much-awaited film Hey Ram carries. Of audaciously, blatantly examining a long-suppressed view that Gandhi, stripped of the respectful suffix, was paradoxically responsible for that blood-tinged dawn.

Kamalahaasan structures the three hours of his film as an exploration into the wounded ‘Hindu’ soul and leaves only the last half hour to make a belated, feeble case for Gandhi. By which time the audience has lost interest and Gandhi comes across as a mere cardboard figure, sans life and coherence, whose only preoccupation in life is to go on a padayatra to Pakistan.

The film focuses on a (Hindu) commoner’s conviction that the man described as the Mahatma, in a political...

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