Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Ramayana: Not an epic revisited
It must take a lot of talent to take one of the greatest stories ever told and turn it into a mediocre, boring tale that makes you yearn for Ramanand Sagar to make a comeback with his serialised ‘Ramayana’.
Chetan Desai’s “Ramayana – The Epic”, an animated version, tells you nothing new but manages to make one of Hinduism’s most revered epics and its characters tacky, B-grade Bollywood extras who uses phrases like “marvayega tu” and sing rap songs in the middle of a jungle before going out to fight against Ravana.
I am all for retelling a story but I am afraid Desai goes about this ‘Ramayana’ with the attitude of a bull in a china shop. He glosses over the childhood years of Rama, deals with his wedding and exile in a half-hour and then moves on to the action — namely, his fight against Ravana.
Important plot points are explained away by a two-line narration and the dialogues, particularly, are amateurishly written. This is certainly not how Hindi was spoken hundreds of years ago.
Desai also ends the story with Rama’s coronation and leaves out one of the most important parts of the story — Sita’s trial by fire. The animation itself is not much to write home about and Indian audiences may find it hard to accept a Rama sporting washboard abs and a buxom Sita.
If you do want to revisit this much-loved epic, I recommend you go back in time to the Sunday mornings of yore. Watching this version is not going to do it.