Brush up on your Ramayan, the entertaining way

  • Atisha Jain, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2014 18:36 IST

We have all grown up hearing about the Ramayan, the greatest Hindu epic. But how many of us really know what Ramayan is all about (if you don’t know that Ram was banished for 14 years from Ayodhya and his return is celebrated as Diwali, do not, we repeat, do not admit this to anyone in public), how the tale unfolds and what significance it holds in our lives?

Also read: The Ramayan reading list

Reading the original Ramayan is probably the best way out, but if you’re looking for a short cut (remember, Valmiki’s version has seven parts), here it is, a list of movies and animation films that recreate the epic in an entertaining manner.

Sita Sings The Blues

By: Nina Paley

Year: 2008

Why You Should Watch It:
A beautiful interpretation of the Ramayan, but with a modern twist. With two parallel stories, the movie seeks to show the relevance of the story in the context of the 21st century – how the marriage of Ram and Sita, didn’t work thousands of years ago, just like a lot of marriages today.

Sounds depressing? It’s not. There are Indonesian shadow puppets carrying out a lively, unscripted discussion of their idea of Ramayan, musical interludes of Annette Hanshaw’s jazz vocals and animated watercolour paintings, all of which make the movie rather cute and fun.

Watch It For: The 2D animation created entirely on a laptop, using Flash!

Ramayana - the Legend Of Prince Rama
By: Yugo Sako And Ram Mohan
Year: 1992

Watch it for:
Amrish Puri’s roaring voice gives a life-like character to the evil Raavan, the svelte Sita’s liquid eyes will melt your heart, and the songs (in the voices of Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamurthy) will remain with you.

Why you should watch it: With engaging battle scenes, superhuman stunts and classic weaponry, Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama is 170 minutes of adventure and action wrapped around a moral epicentre. The 2D animation is as vivid as it gets (without using simply cardboard-like figures). Ramayana: The Epic

By: Chetan Desai

Year: 2010

Watch It For:
The impressive voiceovers. The soft, delicate voices of Manoj Bajpayee and Juhi Chawla lend a certain tranquility to the characters of Ram and Sita. Mukesh Rishi has the perfect voice of Ram’s disciple, Hanuman, and Ashutosh Rana’s stern, deep voice makes for the ideal Raavan.

Why You Should Watch It: At first look, it might come across as a bit crude compared to movies with global-quality animation. But eventually, the exquisitely vibrant colours (Ram’s azure blue tone and Sita’s blushing skin for instance) and the special effects (Ram’s arrows piercing the skies) of this 3D computer-animated movie will have you riveted.

But somehow, in an attempt to deliver quality animation, the story-telling has gone for a toss. The emotional connect is missing.

Movies you could consider

Ram Rajya (1943)
By: Vijay Bhatt.
Cast: Prem Adib (Ram) and Shobhna Samarth (Sita)

A black and white movie, Ram Rajya, meaning Rule of Ram, is said to be the only movie that Mahatma Gandhi – who wasn’t particularly fond of the medium – ever saw. It is largely based on Uttara Kand, the last book of the Ramayan. Released in 1943, during World War II, the political undertones of the film are markedly visible.

Sampoorna Ramayana (1961)
By: Babubhai Mistry.
Cast: Mahipal (Ram) and Anita Guha (Sita)

The second significant movie based on the epic with its song and dance was a bonafide box–office hit (it has two songs by Lata Mangeshkar too).

From HT Brunch,October 19
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