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February 18, 2000


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Liked Hey! Ram

Mahesh Nair

Kamal Haasan in Hey! Ram At the end of the movie, I walked up to Kamal Haasan and asked him, "What is the kind of reaction you are getting for Hey! Ram?" Kamal was his usual cryptic self, "This is an ususual movie, so I am getting some unusual responses." Read on and you'll know what he meant...

My dear Kamal,

I believe you have made a film on someone called Saket Ram who was hell bent on killing me. I am extremely grateful to you because the whole world thinks that Nathuram Godse was the only man who made an assassination attempt on me! If truth be told, there were many more who wanted to bump me off.

I am willing to give you the names of all these people, if you let me die in peace.

Yours sincerely,
M K Gandhi

P S: I am curious. If, instead of gasping "Hey Ram!", I had said "Hey Allah!" or "Hey Christ!", what would you have done?

Dear Gandhiji,

Naseeruddin Shah as Gandhi in Hey! Ram I am honoured, sir, that you have actually written to me! If you read the promotional material that I have supplied with the reviewer's kit, or seen any of the promos that are currently airing on television, you may notice my favourite explanatory line: "This is not an attempt to fix responsibilities for blunders committed, but a reminder that those blunders might happen yet again."

Yes, I am very excited about your proposition. Please do give me list of all those people. I am sure the rest of my movie-making career will be taken care of.

Yours humbly,
Kamal Haasan

P S: If truth be told, no one heard you saying even "Hey Ram!" I tried to listen carefully to what Naseeruddin Shah (who plays you) mumbled during our takes. But every time we shot him with the blank pistol, the sound was so deafening that we couldn't catch a word of what he said. I hope you forgive me for taking artistic liberties.

Dear Kamalji,

Kamal Haasan and Rani Mukherjee in Hey! Ram I am a middle class housewife, living in Ballygunge Circular Road for the past 50 years. Like Aparna (played by Rani Mukherjee), I am a teacher -- though I can bet that I make more money by taking tuition for girls from Loretto School. I also do better embroidery than Aparna's version of Kali, which you carry in the movie like a zombie. While I do not want to share her cruel fate (I shudder to think of how she was raped mercilessly by all those fundamentalists), I am dying to know one thing from you. Never in my entire life has my husband made love to me and played the piano like you did with Aparna!

Should I throw out my old piano and bring a new model?

Kakoli Bhattacharya,

Dear Kamal Uncle,

I am a student finishing my school and wanted to ask for some career advice. I very much want to become an archaeologist, especially after I saw you and Shah Rukh uncle digging for skeletons in Mohenjodaro. But my uncle, who is a journalist, says that it is quite unlikely that you may have come across skeletons in Mohenjodaro even in 1930 -- he says it's tough to see one after 2000 years. But he adds that if I can have a wife like Rani Mukherjee, it is okay to become an archaeologist.

I know you really are an excellent archaeologist. You do have a knack of digging up historical skeletons. Please tell me whether I can I apply for the archaeology course right after school or after college?

Class IX

Dear Rishabh,

If you want to dig historical skeletons, please send a letter to Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, c/o the Indian Council of Historical Research.

If you want to dig purely for the pleasure of digging, then join MTNL or the Madras Sewage and Water Supply Board or the Delhi Electrical Supply Undertaking.

If you want to dig for stuff that does not exist, become a film-maker.

You don't need to finish school to join any of the above professions.

Wishing you all the best.
Kamal Uncle

Mr Kamal Haasan,

Om Puri and Kamal Haasan in Hey! Ram We are very annoyed with how you have projected our dear animal brothers in your film. You have called goats Hindus and Muslims, shown an elephant tied up with a chain and even had Vasundhara Das screaming at a lizard that falls on her. If that's not enough you, as Saket Ram, hallucinate that the lizard is drinking blood.

Let us clarify.

Goats are not Hindus and Muslims. In fact, they are mammals. Showing an elephant tied with a chain while the rest of the country is in patriotic fervour is to spread an irritating social stereotype. Lizards never drink blood. They only swallow their victims. And, finally, please pay damages to the poor lizard at whom Vasundhara screamed. It has lost its hearing ever since.

Dear Mr Haasan,

I am sorry I do not understand your movie. Just because your wife has been raped and killed by Muslim fundamentalists, you blame Mahatma Gandhi for pampering Muslims during the pre-Partition days. But if you had been a Muslim and your wife was raped and killed by Hindu fundamentalists, you would have blamed Gandhi again, right?

If the problem is with Gandhi, then why show women being raped by some particular community? Are you not propagating harmful stereotypes? In fact, the real problem is not with Gandhi. It is with you.

Also when people like you in the media stop using rape as a weapon of revenge? Why couldn't you, for instance, have shown your brother being slaughtered and then taken revenge for it?

K Ramalingam

Dear Mr Ramalingam,

Hey! Ram is not be understood. It is to be felt!

Yours respectfully,
Kamal Haasan

Dear Mr Haasan,

What is the thematic content of your film? What's the genre you are trying to follow?

Movietime critic

Dear Shri Haasan,

Kamal Haasan in Hey! Ram We in the top rung of the RSS cadre saw the movie yesterday. Till the interval, we were very pleased that you have put our struggle for the Hindu rashtra in a proper perspective. However, post-intermission, we think that by softening the character of Saket Ram you have betrayed our trust.

We object to the following points in your film:

1. Shriram Abhyankar (played very convincingly by Atul Kulkarni) has a very important conversation with Saket Ram, where he is speaking of why Hindus are the shikaar (victims) of Gandhi. However, his dialogue is abruptly cut off by the police who spot him in the tram. Abhyankar runs and dives into the Hooghly. We object to the police interruption. Moreover, the Abhyankar we know does not know how to swim.

2. You have shown our friend pracharaks having a party at the Maharaja's (Vikram Gokhale) home on Dusshera day. You have shown them drinking som ras. They are watching an erotic Lavani performance. And our new-found pracharak Saket Ram, after a few drinks, is shown to get extremely excited and can't keep his hands off his wife, Mythili (Vasundhara Das).

We object to partying on Ram Navami. Instead of the Lavani, you should have shown women reciting a bhajan. To show our cadre getting horny and chasing women openly (even if it is one's wife) is highly degrading.

3. Lastly, the Maharaja has a roomful of imported arms and Saket Ram picks up a Mauser to kill the Mahatma. We firmly and categorically disapprove of all foreign imports.

The Brothers,

P S: We are curious. The name Kamal Haasan -- were your ancestors from Lahore?

Dear Nagpur Brothers,

Before you burn my effigy, please ignore the stuff I wrote to Mahatma Gandhi. All that bit about Hey! Ram "being not an attempt to fix responsibilities for blunders committed, but a reminder that those might yet happen again."

Yours in fear,
Kamal Haasan

P S: Kamal as in lotus, held by Saraswati, Lakshmi and all our devis. Haasan as in the town of Hassan. I have never heard of Lahore since I've never visited Paris.

Machan Kamal,

You will forever try to make movies that are patriotic and full of crap. You may get all the National Awards. But our claps and money is reserved for Rajini only.

Rajinikanth Nadigar Mandram

Dear Kamalji,

Kamal Haasan and Shah Rukh Khan in Hey! Ram After Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan's face-off in Shakti, I think the face-off between you and Shah Rukh Khan is the best in Indian cinema. It is amazing that Shah Rukh did not ham in the film like he does mostly. I am sure he will get the best supporting actor's award.

Priti Mathur

Dear Priti,

I have conveyed what you said to Shah Rukh and he wants you to do him a favour: Please see Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani!

Love, Kamal

Dear Mr Haasan,

Could I please meet you for a business proposal? We make world class animation and are appalled by what you have done with Hey! Ram. That special effects where Saket Ram and Mythili, wrapped in a satin sheet in bed, plunge into ecstatic depths is worse than the plunge which the little boy takes in our Sundrop ad. And that morphing bit is a piece of technology that is as old as Michael Jackson's Black or white music video.

Shyam Ramana
Crest Communication

My dearest Kamalji,

Kamal Haasan and Vasundhara Das in Hey! Ram How could you have kissed Rani and Vasundhara?? And you don't even do a good job of it. I bet Sarika was there!!! May you rot in heaven...


Dear Divya,

To tell you frankly, I was afraid of the RSS!

Yours truly,

Dear Kamalji,

By renouncing the world and his family ties in that wonderful scene at the ghats in Kashi, Saket Ram has proved that it is not necessary for widows to run away from home. They can attend marriage parties like Vasundhara Das's grandmother did in the movie. We, the widows of Vrindavan, want you to make Water.

Widows of Vrindavan

P S: It was a pleasure listening to D K Pattamal singing Vaishnavo Jayato.

Dear Kamalbhai,

I think it is a brilliant masterstroke to make a movie about the Mahatma, have some songs and dialogues in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, English and Hindi. Now we can get tax free status from state governments, a National Award and even an Oscar nomination!


Dear Bharatbhai,

How else could I get money to complete Marudhanayagam? My sixth sense (now that's a movie which we need to discuss; it's a script where I will play the character of the boy, Bruce Willis and all the ghosts) tells me we will laugh all the way to the Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank.

Warm regards,

P S: Will you please reduce your interest rate?

Shri Kamalji,

Hey! Ram Please change the title to Shri Ram. Hey! Ram is irreverant and westernised. If you don't, then please be ready to bear the consequences.

Jai Shri Ram
Bajrang Dal

Dear Kamal,

After the preview, a journalist asked me what was I doing in the film looking pensively at a pair of slippers that was supposed to be Bapu's and then looking out of a window in the end when the credits were rolling.

Do you think acting is for me?

Yours sincerely,
Tushar Gandhi

Dear Kamal,

Can you please return those slippers? Tushar's size is larger and he may damage mine.

M K Gandhi

P S: Naseer did a good job. Tell him to take care otherwise he may get shot too.

Dear Kamalji,

Very clever of you to use black and white when you are showing present, i e, 1999. Usually people think only flashbacks are in B/W.

One doubt. The make-up on Hemaji when she is old is the same that your co-star who acted as your wife in Indian used, right?

One more doubt. Why do you as Saket Ram in old age also look like the Mahatma?

Dinanath Dresswala

Dear Kamal,

I think Illayraja did a wonderful job with the background score. Or was it a leftover from L Subramaniam's compositions?

Yours curiously,
A R Rahman

Dear A R,

How can you even ask such a question after what you have done with Peter Gabriel's Passion?


Shri Kamal Haasan,

We, the residents of this colony in New Delhi, are extremely hurt that you have named your principal character after our colony. Henceforth, please be notified that Gate No A, B, and C (next to the government school) will forever be closed to you. Also we will hold a demonstration at the PVR cinema complex if the film is screened there.

Yours sincerely,
The Saket Residents Welfare Association
New Delhi

Dear Kamal,

Liked your movie.

Mahesh Nair

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