Hey Ram

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Hey Ram
Tamil poster of the film
Directed byKamal Haasan
Produced by
Written by
Screenplay byKamal Haasan
Story byKamal Haasan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Edited byRenu Saluja
Distributed by
Release date
  • 18 February 2000 (2000-02-18)
Running time
210 minutes (Tamil)
207 minutes (Hindi)
Budget6 crore (equivalent to 20 crore or US$2.8 million in 2019)[1]
Box office11.35 crore (equivalent to 38 crore or US$5.3 million in 2019)[2]

Hey Ram is a 2000 Indian period drama film written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan, who also acted as the protagonist. It was simultaneously made in Tamil and Hindi languages.[3] The film's soundtrack and score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. It is an alternate historical 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.[4][5]

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.[6]


The film is about a protagonist's journey from religious hatred to love with the theme of the partition of Bengal in the background. Its relevance in the present environment clouded by religious extremism was widely recognised. This is the story of Saket Ram, as narrated by his grandson. The film takes place as Ram, a retired archaeologist, lies on the deathbed, on 6 December 1999, the 7th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.


The movie begins at present day with Saket Ram (Kamal Haasan), an 89-year-old Hindu man at his death bed in Madras. He is being taken care of by his grandson Saket Ram Junior, a famous novelist who writes historical fiction, and their family doctor, Munawar. Ram Jr. explains how he grew up listening to his grandfather's stories. He then narrates one of his grandfather's strangest stories that he plans to use for his next novel. As Ram Jr. narrates the story, Ram is reminded of it.

The scene reverts to the 1940s, when he and his good friend, Amjad Ali Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) are archaeologists working together under their boss, Mortimer Wheeler, in Mohenjo-daro in the Sindh province in what was then North-West India. Relations are pleasant 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 (Rani Mukherjee), a school teacher. On his way home, he witnesses the riots and chaos over the issue of the formation of Pakistan and the call by Mohammad 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 a fit of rage.

Outside his house, he runs into Shriram Abhyankar (Atul Kulkarni), who is part of a Hindu nationalist group determined to fight the Muslims' malice and persecution with similar brute force, and assassinate Gandhi for what they perceive to be his treachery towards Hindu dominated India. Gandhi wants Hindus and Muslims to co-exist peacefully with a hope of winning over the hearts of the rioters through sheer self-piety, but Abhyankar and his fellow extremists have lost patience at what they deemed Gandhi's unreasonable stand to appease the Muslim League and their demand for Pakistan.

Back in his hometown of Thanjavur, Ram's Uncle Bahsyahm and Aunt Vasanthato urge him to remarry. He is then married to the daughter of family friends, Mythili (Vasundhara Das). 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 learns that a Mr. Nair now lives at his old apartment. Nair gives him a goddess painting drawn by Aparna not long before her death. Later that night, Ram joins a mob that confronts Gandhi and Suhrawardy, then Chief Minister of Bengal, about the bloody riots. When questioned about whether they take full responsibility for the riots, both of them accept 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 an old friend from Calcutta, Manohar Lalwani (Saurabh Shukla) who lost his family and home in the riots. After seeing Lalwani's misery, Ram realizes he has still not gotten over Aparna's murder. Under Abhyankar's influence, Ram comes to the belief that Mahatma 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 organization that plots to do away with Gandhi. Due to a horse-riding accident, Abhyankar has left a quadriplegic and has Ram swear that he will carry on his work, that of killing the Mahatma.

Back in present day, Ram Senior's situation worsens. Ram Junior tries to convince his father Mohan to accompany them to the hospital, but he is uninterested for some unknown reason. In the end, Ram Jr. and Munavar 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 Muslim soldier, Ibrahim 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 end Gandhi's life 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. He was murdered by a Hindu mob.

He begs him, kneeling and asking forgiveness for Aparna's death. He says he forgives Ram for his father's. Then he asks Ram to shoot him and tells him that he will take Ram's bullet if his death will grant both Hindus and Muslims peace. He says that he is willing to die if his death gets rid of the hatred that has turned Ram mad.

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 dies holding his brother's hand.

Ram then bumps into 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 another assassin, Nathuram Godse. Ironically, Gandhi dies without his famous last words: "Hey Ram!" as popularly believed, and as in Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi.

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. Before Ram Junior leaves with his grandfather's body, he learns that the soldier's name is Ibrahim and that he is a Muslim.

During his funeral, Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar comes and sees Ram Senior'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.



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 L. Subramaniam 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.[7] So, Kamal went back 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 Kamal Haasan he would fix it without needing to re-shoot any footage including songs. Puzzled, Kamal Haasan initially was not so enthusiastic about this idea. Then Ilaiyaraaja asked Kamal, "you don't trust me to do this?". Kamal immediately agreed and said he would go with Ilaiyaraaja's idea.[8] [9]

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 becoming the first Tamil film to be re-recorded with a foreign orchestra.[10] The song "Isaiyil Thodangudhamma" was not there initially, but Ilaiyaraaja had seen an opportunity for a possible song there and asked Kamal Haasan to give 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.[11]

As declared 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.

Hey Ram
Soundtrack album by
RecordedBudapest Symphony Orchestra
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LanguageTamil / Hindi
LabelStar Music
External audio
Audio Jukebox (Tamil) on YouTube
Original Sound Track (BGM) on YouTube

Tamil version[edit]

Song Singer(s) Lyrics
"Isaiyil Thodanguthamma" Ajoy Chakrabarty Ilaiyaraaja
"Nee Partha" Asha Bhosle, Hariharan Kamal Haasan
"Pollatha Madhana Paanam" Anupama, Mahalakshmi Iyer Vaali
"Ram Ram" Kamal Haasan, Shruti Haasan Kamal Haasan
"Ramaranalum" Jolly Mukherjee, Kamal Haasan, Hariharan Vaali
"Sanyaas Mantra" Kamal Haasan
"Vaishnava Janato" D.K. Pattammal Krishnasamy Iyer
"Vaaranam Aayiram Vaishnava Janatho" Vibha Sharma, Asha Bhosle Andal, Narsinh Mehta

Hindi version[edit]

Song Singer(s) Lyrics
"Hey! Ram" Kamal Haasan, Shruti Haasan Sameer
"Janmon Ki Jwala" Asha Bhosle, Hariharan, Rani Mukherjee Sameer (Poem by Jibanananda Das)
"Asa Ga Madan Ban Ghusla Kasa" Anupama, Preeti Uttam Sameer / Jagdish Khebudkar
"Sanyaas Mantra" Kamal Haasan
"Chahe Pandit Ho" Jolly Mukherjee, Kamal Haasan, Hariharan Sameer
"Prem Bann" Preeti Uttam
"Vaishnav Jana To" Vibha Sharma
"Har Koi Samjhe" Ajoy Chakraborty Sameer


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.[12] Ilaiyaraaja was subsequently selected to replace him and helped score music over the version recorded by Subramaniam.[13] His background score was recorded by a 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).[14] 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.[12]

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.[15] Haasan initially intended to title the film as Satya Sodanai, which loosely translates to My Experiments With Truth, the title of Gandhi's autobiography.[12] 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 suddenly he died due to heart attack in sleep, later Hassan roped Kulkarni another noted Marathi actor to do this role, becoming one of the best performance of his career.

Production on the film cost a total of 11 crore rupees, excluding Kamal Haasan's salary.[16]


The film has won the following awards since its release:

Award Ceremony Category Nominee(s) Outcome Ref.
National Film Awards 47th National Film Awards Best Supporting Actor Atul Kulkarni Won [17]
Best Costume Design Sarika Won [17]
Best Special Effects Manthra Won [17]
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 [18]

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


The film was subsequently filmed in Tamil and Hindi, and dubbed in Telugu and Malayalam. The Tamil,Hindi and Malayalam version released on same date and the Telugu version remains unreleased due to the contentious story line.In Telugu version, Singer Mano dubbed for Kamal Haasan.


There were protests and press releases by political parties in select centres against perceived negative depiction of Gandhi.[19][20] In India the film was given an 'A' certificate by the Central Board of Film certification. In Malaysia, it was rated as Universal.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Hey Ram received highly positive reviews.[22] 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."[23] 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."[24] However Tamil writer Charu Nivedita wrote that the film is a self-declaration of Kamal Hassan's Hindutva agenda and added that the film per se failed on artistic grounds.[25]


A true Oscar winning movie, didn't receive the attention it deserved back then. And, critics and movie buffs were celebrating this movie after 20 years of release, also movie was re-screened at Sathyam Cinemas by 2019.

Box office[edit]

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.[2] It is the 32nd-highest-grossing film of 2000 worldwide.[26]


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) nett.[2] It is the 35th-highest-grossing film of 2000 in India.[27] It's Telugu version's collection was dull due to clash 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.[2] Overseas, It is the 17th-highest-grossing film of 2000.[28]

'Hey Ram' (Hindi)
worldwide break-up
Territory Territory wise Collections break-up
India Nett Gross:
5.32 crore (US$750,000)
Distributor share:
2.63 crore (US$370,000)
Total Gross:
8.91 crore (US$1.2 million)
(Outside India)
$550,000 (2.39 crore)
Worldwide 11.30 crore (US$1.6 million)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Hey Ram Budget". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Hey Ram Box office". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  3. ^ REDDY, KRITHIKA (25 February 2000). "Film Review: Hey! Ram". The Hindu.
  4. ^ "Red Chillies Entertainments". www.redchillies.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Kamal Haasan reveals Shah Rukh Khan has bought Hey Ram Hindi remake rights". India Today.
  6. ^ "25th Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: List of Films". Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  7. ^ "'Hey Ram is my apology to Mahatma Gandhi': Kamal Haasan". The Hindu.
  8. ^ "Ilaiyaraaja saved Kamal Haasan from re-shooting many portions of Hey Ram". Times of India.
  9. ^ "``என்னுடைய கோபம்...இளையராஜாவின் கண்ணீர்! - கமல்ஹாசன் சொல்லும் `ஹேராம்' கதை". Vikatan.
  10. ^ "'Hey Ram is my apology to Mahatma Gandhi': Kamal Haasan". The Hindu.
  11. ^ "``என்னுடைய கோபம்...இளையராஜாவின் கண்ணீர்! - கமல்ஹாசன் சொல்லும் `ஹேராம்' கதை". Vikatan.
  12. ^ a b c "walk out!". Rediff. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Changing notes of Heyram". Screen India. Archived from the original on 21 November 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Ilaiyaraja interview - Part III". Indolink Tamil. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  15. ^ "SRK didn't take money for Hey Ram". The Times of India. 29 May 2013. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  16. ^ "The Hindu : Metro Plus Chennai : No stopping him". www.thehindu.com.
  17. ^ a b c "47th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  18. ^ 69th & 70th Annual Hero Honda BFJA Awards 2007 Archived 8 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Rediff on the NeT, Movies: Our weekly box office update". Rediff.com. 1 March 2000. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  20. ^ "TMC threatens to block Kamal Haasan 's films – The Times of India". Cscsarchive.org:8081. 20 June 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  21. ^ "No stopping him". The Hindu. 27 September 2004. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013.
  22. ^ "The Hindu : In a new avataar". www.thehindu.com.
  23. ^ "Film Review: Hey! Ram". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Hey Ram". Dinakaran. 6 March 2000. Archived from the original on 30 December 2005.
  25. ^ "ஹே ராம் – ஒரு இந்துத்துவ அஜெண்டா - Charuonline". charuonline.com.
  26. ^ "Top Worldwide Grossers 2000". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 29 August 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  27. ^ "Top India Total Nett Gross 2000". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  28. ^ "Top Overseas Gross 2000". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 29 August 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.

External links[edit]