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The head priest of the Ram temple in Ayodhya has demanded an immediate ban on the Bollywood film ‘Aadipurush’, saying it has wrongly portrayed Rama, Hanuman and Ravana. The 1.46-minute teaser of the film, based on the Hindu epic Ramayana, was released at a grand function in Ayodhya. However, it is getting backlash due to several ‘problems’.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad echoed the objections of Ayodhya priest Satyendra Das, and criticized the film’s depiction of Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana in the teaser, saying it “mocks Hindu society”.
As the controversy surrounding the film heats up, News18 explains the various objections about the film and other depictions of the Ramayana:
Another big budget film is based on Hindu mythology
Following in the footsteps of SS Rajamouli’s RRR and Ayan Mukherjee’s Brahmastra, Aadipurush is the latest big budget Indian film to focus on Hindu mythology and culture. Director Om Rawat, who helmed Adipurush, said it was a ‘passion project’ for the entire crew, says a report. Indian Express.
According to director Om Raut, who earlier directed Ajay Devgn starrer Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Raut had directed earlier. “Adipurush is not just an image but a symbol of devotion. Adipurush is a mission, a passion for all of us,” he said. The grand launch event took place at Ram Ki Baidi on the banks of the Sarayu River in Ayodhya, and a 50-foot poster of the film was unveiled out of the water. Sunny Singh and Saif Ali Khan, who played Lakshman in Adipurush, were not present at the premiere.
Ah raha hum,
Adharma Ka Vidwans Karne 🏹
Step into the Word of Adipurusha✨ #Adipurush in Ayodhya #AdiPrush Teaser Out now! #Adipurush Releases in theaters on January 12, 2023 in IMAX & 3D!#Prabhas #SaifAlicon @kritisanan @mesunnisingh #Bhushankumar #Krishnakumar pic.twitter.com/UIcQUJf5Fl
— Om Raut (@omraut) October 2, 2022
Films based on Hindu mythology in Bollywood have received mixed reviews and reception. The recently released Brahmastra starring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Mouni Roy is a superhero drama about a simple man who has a special relationship with fire. The films draw inspiration from Hindu mythology, with the plot following the Brahmastra, a supernatural weapon said to be capable of destroying the universe.
Other upcoming films on Hindu themes include Akshay Kumar’s ‘Ram Sethu’. Kangana Ranaut’s ‘Sita’ is set to portray the central female character Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama from the Ramayana. However, the reception of the films has been ‘mixed’ due to ‘anti-Bollywood’ comments on social media lately.
What is the criticism of Adipurushan?
The film has received criticism from right-wing and Hindu leaders, the internet and others.
In his criticism of the film, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Sambal wing prasar Ajay Sharma told reporters that the portrayal of Rama, Ravana and Lakshmana in ‘Aadipurush’ is a mockery of Hinduism.
“The values of Hindu society have been mocked. The Hindu community will not tolerate this,” he said.
Criticism on depiction of Ravana, Hanuman
Sharma said that the way Ravana was portrayed did not match the Ramayana and related religious texts.
The multilingual period drama sees Saif Ali Khan playing the role of a 10-headed demon king known as Lankesh. Bearded, fierce-eyed and buzz-cut, Lankesh appears to be the embodiment of savagery, and many have called out the filmmakers for Islamizing Ravana. The bearded, moustache-less, leather-clad image of Hanuman also drew criticism.
Politicians join the slam
The film was also criticized by political leaders. Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Prajesh Pathak said the film hurt the sentiments of Hindus, while Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Misra warned of legal action if scenes depicting Hindu figures in a “wrong” way were not removed.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 6, 2022
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh said that such controversies seem to be planned. “Taking pictures is not a crime. They should be created, but deliberately creating controversies is inappropriate,” he said.
UP Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya said he had not seen the film, but asked why such acts are being done to hurt anyone’s sentiments. “If feelings are hurt, it should be investigated and rectified,” he said.
Reactions to the film and similar themes sparked debates about ‘cancel culture’. Film critic, Joginder Dudeja recently told CNN-News18, “A filmmaker has the right to go ahead, as long as it is sensible and not offensive.”
Earlier depictions of the Ramayana
While the epic has inspired many movies and shows, two have found love from audiences. The 1987 TV series Ramayana and the 1993 ‘anime’ film of the Hindu epic. The remarkable success of the series gives a clue as to why the Ramayana theme is popular among filmmakers.
The show first aired on DD National between 1987 and 1988, and was narrated by Ashok Kumar and directed by Ramanand Sagar.
The show became the most watched television series in the world with 82 percent viewership. It was broadcast repeatedly on 20 different channels in 17 countries across five continents. The success of the series was well documented by the media. According to the BBC, more than 650 million people have watched the serial.
When the series airs every Sunday morning, the BBC reports, “the streets are deserted, shops are closed, people shower and garland their television sets.” Arvind Rajagopal, a professor of media studies at NYU and author of the book Politics After Television, told the publication that public life has come to a standstill in cities across northern India. “Trains would stop at stations, buses would stop, and passengers would disembark to find a roadside spot with a television—the crowd was too dense to see or hear the television, but the point was to be. There.”
There is a marked difference in the portrayal of characters in this Ramayana and Adipurush – the series sticks to the conventional image of the characters, including the depiction of Ravana, a characterization of the Bollywood film compared to the Marvel universe and other Hollywood ‘superhero films’.
Another based on the beloved epic is the 1993 anime film ‘Ramayana The Legend of Prince Ram’, which was featured on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
Yuko Sako produced and directed the 1993 Japanese-Indian anime based on the Hindu epic Ramayana. It impressed the audience with its faithful adaptation and divine depictions of Hindu deities.
Japanese producer and director Yuko Sago described her immense preparation before making the Ramayana, “Sago spent months researching the story, examining costumes and architectural features, meeting with academics, archaeologists and historians. He wanted to be extra careful as an outsider to stay true to the epic,” reports said.
Modi recently announced that the film will now be re-mastered in 4k resolution after 30 years. Modi said that the project will be completed soon.
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