|Directed by||Kamal Haasan|
|Screenplay by||Kamal Haasan|
|Story by||Kamal Haasan|
|Edited by||Renu Saluja|
|210 minutes (Tamil)|
207 minutes (Hindi)
|Budget||₹6 crore (US$1.34 million)|
|Box office||₹11.35 crore (US$2.53 million)|
Hey Ram is a 2000 Indian historical drama film written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan, who also acted as the protagonist. It was simultaneously made in Tamil and Hindi languages. Shah Rukh Khan plays a supporting role, making his debut in Tamil cinema. The film's soundtrack and score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. It is an alternate history film that depicts India's Partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. The Hindi version was distributed by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment.
The film was screened at the International Film Festival of India and selected by Film Federation of India as its submission to the Oscars in the year 2000, but was not nominated. The film has garnered three National Film Awards. Internationally, the film was screened at the 25th Toronto International Film Festival and at the 2000 Locarno Festival.
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The movie begins in the present, with Saket Ram, an 89-year-old Hindu man at his death bed in Madras. He is being taken care of by his grandson (also named Saket Ram) who is a famous novelist who writes historical fiction, and their family doctor, Munawar. The younger Ram explains how he grew up listening to his grandfather's stories and proceeds to narrate one of his grandfather's strange stories that he plans to use for his next novel. As his grandson narrates the story, the dying Saket Ram relives it.
The scene cuts to the 1940s, when Ram and his Pathan Muslim friend, Amjad Ali Khan are archaeologists working together under Mortimer Wheeler, in Mohenjo-daro in the Sindh province, in what was then North-West India. Relations are good between the Indians and the English. Saket and Amjad do not approve of partition and the creation of Pakistan. Although many Indian Muslims plan to move to Pakistan, Amjad decides to stay in India as he believes it is his homeland and he does not wish to live under Sharia law.
After the archaeological site is shut down out of fear of riots, young Ram returns to Calcutta to be with his wife, Aparna. On his way home, he witnesses the riots and chaos over the issue of the formation of Pakistan and the call by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan, for "Direct Action". While out to get some food, Ram manages to save an innocent Sikh girl from the hands of a Muslim gang. When he returns to his house, he finds a group of Muslims entering his house. They brutally rape and murder Aparna. Saket, unable to cope with his tragic loss, kills the Muslims who raped and killed his wife in revenge.
Outside his house, Ram runs into Shriram Abhyankar, a Thanjavur Marathi who is part of a Hindu nationalist group and assassinate Mahatma Gandhi for what they perceive to be his treachery towards Hindu-dominated India.
Back in his hometown of Thanjavur, Ram's brother Bashyahm and sister Vasantha urge him to remarry. He is then married to the daughter of family friends, Mythili. While his wedding is being celebrated across the village, Ram tells his childhood friends Vedha and Yegham that he has no reason to be happy since the world's biggest political divorce is going on with the separation of Pakistan in the north. During his first night, he learns that Mythili, like her family, are supporters of Gandhi and that the Mahatma will be visiting Calcutta a few days later on the anniversary of the bloody riots. Ram travels to Calcutta alone and joins a mob that confronts Gandhi and Suhrawardy, the Chief Minister of Bengal, about the bloody riots. When questioned about whether they take full responsibility for the riots, both of them accept it and ask for forgiveness. The mob forgives them, but Ram refuses to.
Although Ram remains aloof at first, he slowly falls in love with Mythili. However, on their honeymoon in Maharashtra, Ram and Mythili bump into a disguised Abhyankar, who introduces them to a dethroned Maharaja. During a hunting trip with Abhyankar and the Maharaja, Ram is reunited with his old Sindhi friend from Calcutta, Manohar Lalwani, who lost his family and home in the riots. After seeing Lalwani's misery, Ram realises he has still not gotten over Aparna's murder. Under Abhyankar's influence, Ram comes to the belief that Gandhi is solely responsible for the division of India and of the two religions and also of having supported whom they viewed as the enemy. Hindu fundamentalists, including the Maharaja and Abhyankar, are furious and plot to murder Gandhi. Ram unwittingly becomes a part of their militant organisation that plots to kill Gandhi. Due to a horse-riding accident, Abhyankar is left quadriplegic and has Ram swear that he will carry on his work of killing Gandhi.
Back in the present, Saket Ram's situation worsens. His grandson and Munawar take him to the hospital, but are stopped by the police since there are bomb blasts in Madras due to Hindu-Muslim communal riots. Ram asks, "Even now?" A soldier makes them hide in an underground shelter for their safety. As they try to stay silent to avoid being attacked by the mob, Ram reminisces about how he plotted to kill Gandhi many decades ago.
Back in newly independent India, Ram begins to prepare to assassinate Gandhi once he returns to Madras. A pregnant Mythili becomes worried as her husband grows more distant and invites her parents and in-laws over to cheer him up. However, Ram has made up his mind to kill Gandhi and leaves home for Varanasi, where he goes through a purification ritual. Then, he heads for Delhi and unknowingly stays at the same hotel as another fundamentalist planning to kill Gandhi, Nathuram Godse. When the police arrive to question Godse, a paranoid Ram hides his gun in a truck. Later on, Ram goes to the soda factory in Chandni Chowk where the truck was heading to.
In Chandni Chowk, Ram is reunited with Amjad, who takes him to the soda factory. It is revealed that many Muslims civilians, including Amjad's wife Nafisa and their children, are hiding there out of fear of being attacked by Hindus during curfew. When it is discovered that Ram came there for a gun, the Muslims became suspicious that he might be out to kill them, attack him. A fight ensues that triggers a series of violent events in the area. While trying to escape both Hindu and Muslim mobs, Amjad finds out that Ram is in Delhi to assassinate Gandhi and he tries to convince his friend to not do it. He reveals that his father did not die of natural causes, but was murdered by a Hindu mob.
Just then, they are cornered by a Hindu mob who try to kill Amjad, but he is saved by Ram. Amjad is struck on the back of the head and Ram takes him back to the soda factory. Together, they then help protect the Muslims hiding in the soda factory until the authorities arrive to control the situation. Amjad is shot in the leg.
Amjad is fatally injured and is questioned by Officer Rao about the man who started the violence. He is asked about the fake name, Bhairav, that Ram used since he arrived at his hotel.
Before dying, Amjad lies that he has never seen that man before, and all he knows is his brother Ram who despite everything, saved his life. He then dies holding Ram's hand.
Subsequently, Ram runs into his father-in-law and his friend who are there to meet Gandhi. He learns that his uncle and aunt have died after learning he has left. Gandhi requests to see Ram to invite him on his long walk to Pakistan after finding out he helped save innocent Muslims. Ram ultimately changes his mind about Gandhi after seeing that his teachings are all about love and non-violence. He decides against assassinating the leader, and attempts to confess the truth to him in order to beg for forgiveness. However, it is too late as Gandhi is eventually killed by Godse. Then on, Ram lives by Gandhian principles.
As the situation on the streets starts to cool down, Ram whispers his last words to his grandson and eventually dies. During Ram's funeral, Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar comes over and visits Ram's private room, which is full of historical photos. Ram Junior hands over Gandhi's footwear and spectacles which his late grandfather had previously collected from the place of the shootout and had treasured throughout his life.
- Kamal Haasan as Saket Ram / Saketharaman
- Shah Rukh Khan as Amjad Ali Khan
- Naseeruddin Shah as Mahatma Gandhi
- Hema Malini as Ambujam
- Vasundhara Das as Mythili Saketharaman
- Rani Mukerji as Aparna Saket Ram
- Girish Karnad as Uppilli
- Om Puri as Goel
- Vikram Gokhale as Maharaja
- Saurabh Shukla as Lalvani
- Nassar as Ibrahim
- Abbas as Munavar
- Atul Kulkarni as Shriram Abhayankar
- Sowcar Janaki as Mythili's grandmother
- Vaali as Bhashyam
- Iravati Harshe as Nafisa
- Gautam Kanthadai as Saket Ram Jr.
- Nagamani Mahadevan as Vasantha
- V. S. Raghavan as K. T. Chari
- Delhi Ganesh as Chari
- Gollapudi Maruti Rao as Govardhan
- Y. G. Mahendran as Yagyam
- Vaiyapuri as Vedha (Tamil version)
- Arun Mehra as Vedha (Hindi version)
- Ram Mohan as a refugee
- Arun Bali as Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
- Shadaab Khan as Altaf Tailor
- Yatin Karyekar as Qureshi
- Manoj Pahwa as Jalal
- Chandrahasan as Mohan Gandhiraman
- Lewis Elbinger as Mortimer Wheeler
- Tushar Gandhi as himself
- Mohini Mathur as Hajra Begum
- Madhuri Sanjeev as Bina Lalvani
- Sharad Ponkshe as Nathuram Godse
- Shubhangi Gokhale as Rani
- K. S. Ramesh as an inspector at Marina Hotel
- Umesh Sharma as Altaf's mother
- S. K. Ghosh as Chattopadhyay
- Annapoorna as Mrs. Chattopadhyay
- Anand as a doctor at Delhi hospital
- Ambarish as a doctor at Delhi hospital
- U. B. G. Menon as E. V. K. Nair
- Bolai Sarkar as a drunkard in Calcutta
- Nagaraja Bhagavathar as Jeganatha Iyengar
- Shruti Haasan as Vallabhbhai Patel's daughter
- Taj Bansal as the blind girl of Belliaghatta
- Bobby Bedi as Chotu Ram
- Mohammed Ali as Amjad's Father
- Arun Patekar as Sardar Vallabhai Patel
- Yunus as Abul Kalam Azad
- Raj Patra as Jawaharlal Nehru
- Savar as Lord Mountbatten
- Amitabh Srivastava as Babu Rajendra Prasad
- Gilles as Henri Cartier Bresson
- Supritha as Abha Ben
- Rashmi as Manu Ben
- Rahul as Gopal Godse
- Jayasimha as Ramachandra Badge
- Vikram as Vishnu Narayana Apte
- Sirish Purohit as Vishnu Karkare
- Aravind Akash as Sankar Kishthaya
- Vivek as Madanlal Pahwa
- Shabbir Ahmed as Aparna's attacker
- A. C. Murali as Parthasarathy
- Nikita Palekar as Pushpa Iyengar
- Sanjana Khanna as Amjad's daughter
The shooting was started in Madhava Perumal Temple, Mylapore. Violinist L. Subramaniam was selected to work as the music composer and completed recording songs for the project. However, before finishing his entire commitment for the film, he left the project fearing that his association with the film may offend Hindu people due to its contentious storyline. Ilaiyaraaja was subsequently selected to replace him and helped score music over the version recorded by Subramaniam. His background score was recorded by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra for the second time for an Indian film, the first time being by Ilaiyaraaja himself three years before for the Malayalam epic Guru (1997). Like Subramaniam, the Sankaracharya of Kanchi, had also filmed an interview scene for the film but later requested that his portions were removed to avoid controversy.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan did not ask for any remuneration from Kamal Haasan, as he considered it an honour and privilege to work with one of his mentors. Haasan initially intended to title the film as Satya Sodanai, which loosely translates to My Experiments With Truth, the title of Gandhi's autobiography. The role of Shriram Abhyankar played by Atul Kulkarni was supposed to be played by noted Marathi actor Mohan Gokhale; he had started working on film in Madras but passed away suddenly in his sleep due to a heart attack. Hassan later roped in Kulkarni, another noted Marathi actor, to do this role, becoming one of the best performances of his career.
Initially Kamal Haasan roped in violinist L. Subramaniam to compose music for the film. Kamal Haasan completed shooting the whole film along with the song sequences that were composed by L. Subramaniam. But when Kamal approached him for the final sound for mixing, he had asked for ₹ 1,00,00,000 (almost US$1,40,100), which was not the amount agreed upon earlier. So, Kamal went to composer Ilaiyaraaja to help him solve this situation. Kamal quotes: "He [Ilaiyaraaja] didn't ask me anything about what went wrong, he should have asked, but he didn't, that shows his true character. He asked me point blank, 'what shall we do next?'". Kamal Haasan told Ilaiyaraaja that the songs had already been shot with the music composed by L. Subramaniam and he wanted to remove the songs and re-shoot them with Ilaiyaraaja's. On hearing that, Ilaiyaraaja suggested to Kamal Haasan that he could fix it without Kamal needing to re-shoot any footage or songs. Puzzled, Kamal was initially reluctant. Then Ilaiyaraaja asked Kamal, "You don't trust me to do this?" Kamal immediately agreed.
The lyrics for the songs were not changed but Ilaiyaraaja composed new tunes for the songs that would be in sync with the already shot footage. The background music and the songs were recorded in Hungary's Budapest Symphony Orchestra and thus Hey Ram became the first Tamil film and the second Indian film to be re-recorded with a foreign symphony orchestra. The first one was Ilaiyaraaja's own score for the Malayalam film Guru. The song "Isaiyil Thodangudhamma" was not present initially, but Ilaiyaraaja had seen an opportunity for a possible song in the scene and asked Kamal Haasan to give him a chance to add one. But Kamal Haasan, being the writer-director of the film, didn't see it. Then Ilaiyaraaja convinced Kamal Haasan to trust him with this and brought notable Hindustani singer Ajoy Chakrabarty to sing one of the most celebrated songs from the movie, "Isaiyil Thodanguthamma" and also writing the lyrics for the same.
As revealed by Ilaiyaraja himself, during his show in Bangalore on 16 Nov 2019, his eldest son Kartik Raja had a major role in the song "Ramar Analum"/ "Chahe Pandit Ho" and that he was revealing this for the 1st time.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Recorded||Budapest Symphony Orchestra|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Language||Tamil / Hindi|
|Label||Star Music (Tamil version) |
Universal Music (Hindi version)
|1.||"Ram Ram"||Kamal Haasan||Kamal Haasan, Shruti Haasan|
|2.||"Nee Partha"||Kamal Haasan||Asha Bhosle, Hariharan|
|3.||"Pollatha Madhana Paanam"||Vaali, Jagdish Khebudkar||Mahalakshmi Iyer, Anupama Deshpande|
|4.||"Vaaranam Aayiram (Vaishnava Janatho)"||Narsinh Mehta, Andal, Gnanakoothan||Kanapadikal, Vibha Sharma|
|5.||"Isaiyil Thodanguthamma"||Ilaiyaraaja||Ajoy Chakrabarty|
|6.||"Sanyaas Mantra"||Kamal Haasan, Hema Malini|
|7.||"Ramaranalum"||Vaali||Kamal Haasan, Jolly Mukherjee, Hariharan|
|1.||"Hey! Ram"||Sameer||Kamal Haasan, Shruti Haasan|
|2.||"Janmon Ki Jwala" (poem of Jibanananda Das recited by Rani Mukherjee)||Sameer||Asha Bhosle, Hariharan|
|3.||"Asa Ga Madan Ban Ghusla Kasa"||Sameer, Jagdish Khebudkar||Preeti Uttam, Anupama Deshpande|
|4.||"Sanyaas Mantra"||Kamal Haasan|
|5.||"Chahe Pandit Ho"||Sameer||Kamal Haasan, Hariharan, Jolly Mukherjee|
|6.||"Prem Bann"||Preeti Uttam|
|7.||"Vaishnav Jana To"||Andal, Gnanakoothan, Sameer||Vibha Sharma|
|8.||"Har Koi Samjhe"||Sameer||Ajoy Chakrabarty|
The film was simultaneously filmed in Tamil and Hindi, and dubbed in Telugu and Malayalam. The Tamil,Hindi and Malayalam versions were released on the same date and the Telugu version remained unreleased due to the contentious story line. A digitally remastered version of the film was released on 8 November 2019 on Prime Video. Internationally, the film was screened at the 25th Toronto International Film Festival and at the 2000 Locarno Festival. In 2015, Hey Ram was screened at the Habitat Film Festival.
There were protests and press releases by political parties in select centres against the perceived negative depiction of Gandhi. In India, the film was given an 'A' certificate by the Central Board of Film certification. In Malaysia, it was rated as Universal.
Hey Ram received critical acclaim. T. Krithika Reddy from The Hindu wrote, "Live sound, prosthetic make-up (Micheal Westmore), splendid cinematography (Thiru), magnificent art work (Sabu Cyril) and painstakingly designed costumes (Sarika) are some of the other highlights of this magnum opus, which is distinct in style and content...The chemistry between Kamal and Rani is explosive to say the least. Shah Rukh Khan, as usual comes up with an impeccable performance. Vasundhara, as the stoic second wife makes an impressive debut. Naseerudin Shah as Gandhi steals a clear march over the others in supporting roles." Dinakaran wrote, "The starting of 2000 itself has given a great joy to Tamil cinema! A Tamilian has created a film that caters to international standards."
The Hindi version of Hey Ram grossed ₹8.91 crore (US$1.2 million) in India and $550,000 (₹2.39 crore) in other countries, for a worldwide total of ₹11.30 crore (US$1.6 million), against its ₹9 crore (US$1.3 million) budget. It was the 32nd-highest-grossing film of 2000 worldwide.
The Hindi version opened on Friday, February 18, 2000, across 115 screens, and earned ₹44 lakh (US$62,000) nett on its opening day. It grossed ₹1.31 crore (US$180,000) nett in its opening weekend, and had a first week of ₹2.39 crore (US$340,000) nett. The film earned a total of ₹5.32 crore (US$750,000) net. It was the 35th-highest-grossing film of 2000 in India. The Telugu version's collection was dull due to clashes of bigger Telugu stars with the movie.
At the overseas box office, the Hindi version had an opening weekend of $250,000 (₹1.08 crore) and went on to gross $350,000 (₹1.52 crore) in its first week. The film earned a total of $550,000 (₹2.39 crore) at the end of its theatrical run. Overseas, it was the 17th-highest-grossing film of 2000.
|Territory||Territory wise Collections break-up|
₹5.32 crore (US$750,000)
₹2.63 crore (US$370,000)
₹8.91 crore (US$1.2 million)
|$550,000 (₹2.39 crore)|
|Worldwide||₹11.30 crore (US$1.6 million)|
The film has won the following awards since its release:
|National Film Awards||47th National Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Atul Kulkarni||Won|||
|Best Costume Design||Sarika||Won|||
|Best Special Effects||Manthra||Won|||
|Filmfare Awards South||48th Filmfare Awards South||Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil||Kamal Haasan||Won|
|Filmfare Award||46th Filmfare Awards||Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor (Hindi)||Atul Kulkarni||Nominated|
|Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards||64th Annual BFJA Awards||Most Outstanding Work of the Year Award||Kamal Haasan||Won|||
2001 Screen Weekly Awards
- Won – Best Background Music – Ilaiyaraaja
- Nominated – Best Actor – Kamal Haasan
- Nominated – Best Supporting Actor – Atul Kulkarni
- Nominated – Best Sound Recording – Srivastav
- Nominated – Best Cinematography – S. Tirru
- Nominated – Best Art Direction – Sabu Cyril
- Nominated – Most Promising Newcomer (Female) – Vasundhara Das
- List of artistic depictions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
- List of Indian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Asian historical drama films
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