Hey! Ram (2002)
Director: Kamal Hassan.
Starring: Kamal Hassan (Saketh Ram), Shahrukh Khan (Amjad Ali Khan), Rani Mukherjee (Aparna Ram), Hema Malini (Ambujam Iyengar), Girish Karnad (Uppilli Iyengar), Naseeruddin Shah (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi), Om Puri (Goel), Vikram Gokhale (Maharaja), Saurabh Shukla (Manohar Lalwani), Nasser (Police Officer), Abbas (Saketh Ram's Grandson), Atul Kulkarni (Shriram Abhyankar), Showkar Janaki (Mythili's Grandmother), Kavignar Vaali (Baashayam Iyengar), Iravati Harshe (Nafisa).
bloody civil war between Hindus and Muslims that ultimately led to the neo-Islamic state of Pakistan
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
1999. The doctor comes in to examine his patient. The patient used to be an archaeologist. He is 89 years old, born in 1910. His grandson is at his bedside. He recalls how he used to tell him all kinds of stories. In fact, he is going to write a novel based on one of his stories. It took place in pre-partition India, back in 1946. Grandfather was working with an English archaeologist named Wheeler.
Flashback. Two archaeologists, Ram and Amjad, find two skeletons in one grave in Lothal. Wheeler shouts to them that they have been ordered to leave this site. It has something to do with Pakistan. There is a Hindu-Muslim riot scare. They have one hour to pack-up and cover-up what's been found so far. Three vehicles leave the site.
Amjad's parents drop Amjad off at a fancy club along with his wife Nafisa and Ram. At the bar the talks turns to politics. "Which India do you desire? United or divided?" Mr. Wheeler says that Amjad probably wants a separate Pakistan, but Amjad says "no way". "They want to impose Shariat (Islamic law)." That way he would never get a chance to drink. Amjad's foster brother Sindhi comes up behind Amjad and grabs him by the shoulders.
Ram tells Lalwani that their archaeological work has been stalled. India-Pakistan problems. He says he is going to Calcutta to meet his wife, Aparna. He has been away from her for 20 days. In Calcutta the Rakhi festival is coming up. (Rakhi: Hindu ritual affirming bond between brother and sister.) Ram gets a call from his newly-wedded bride. Amiad jokes that he is already henpecked. The fellows tease Ram about the call, talk to his wife and then hang up on her. The guys sing a song for the group in the club.
Capital Watch Company. Calcutta. There are a lot of Muslim men running around banging on buses and cars. Today is Mr. Jinnah's direct action day. A couple of tomatoes splash against the windows of the cab Ram is riding in. The police are celebrating a holiday and Suhrawardy, the Premier, is celebrating. Ram reaches his destination. An apartment neighbor complains that all the stores are closed and Suhrawardy is a scoundrel. Ram goes into his apartment to be with his wife.
Ram decides to go to a Hindu store to get something to eat. His wife is afraid and wants him to stay home. He goes anyway. He takes his motorcycle. He hears and sees a woman running down the street shouting "Help!" with a man behind her chasing her. Then he sees a whole crowd of Muslims chasing after the two of them. Ram revs his engine and then lets it go and knocks over the male pursuer and tells the woman to get on. They have to hurry because the mob is right behind them. He takes her home.
Ram comes home to see someone all bloodied on the floor. He goes to his apartment and is knocked out. They tie him to the top of a table. Then they get into the apartment and rape the wife. Ram convinces his guard holding Ram's pistol that his neck will snap if they don't untie him. The fellow does and Ram grabs a stick and hits the guy. (The guy tries to shoot Ram, but Ram knows the gun is unloaded.) The fellow eventually drops off the balcony and falls on the top of a passing police car. Ram chases the rapists. He finds his wife with her throat cut. He tries to stop the bleeding but he can't. She dies. He cries inconsolably. Other people in the building are also dead. The Muslims are killing every Hindu they can get their hands on. Ram finds the rapist that he knows and kills him. When another man tries to grab him, he kills him to.
He sees a man being repeatedly stabbed. The man dies. Ram runs into another man and is about to shoot him too, but he stops. He looks behind the man to see Hindus. The fellow he was about to shoot is a Hindu too. The man says his name is Shri Ram Abhyanker. He tells Ram to join them in the hunt. Ram shakes his head no. The man gives Ram a newspaper and says his name is mentioned in it. He wants Ram to come and see him, saying: "We have a lot to do." He then puts a vermillion spot on Ram's forehead so others can tell which side he is on. As Ram runs he sees a Muslim being killed by Hindus. In the city there are dead bodies everywhere. He cries and says: "Enough!"
A police van pulls up to a house and rush upstairs. Ram runs into Shri Ram Abhyanker again. The man says the police are looking for him. Shri Ram asks Ram how many people he killed. The question upsets Ram, but he confesses: "I am a murderer. I now have the guts to kill people." He starts to tell what happened to his wife. The man stops him. He says 20 men raped his sister. After they were done, they killed her. Shri Ram blames only one man for all the killing: Barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He says: "Beginning with the Khilafat movement he has watered the small green sapling and now it's a huge tree!" Ram wants to turn himself into the police to be punished. Shri Ram stops him. He says Ram only did his duty. Shri Ram is interrupted by the police that have come looking for him. He has to make a run for it.
Ram leaves everything behind and takes a taxi. We next see him in another taxi with his elderly aunt and uncle. It has been six months since his wife was killed. Ram says: "And her I am, going to see another girl!" The bride Mythili is brought out. Ram tells his uncle that the bride is just a girl.
In Delhi Ram and Mythili go through the wedding ceremony. When they are in a room by themselves he is rather distant from his new wife. She goes to change her clothes. Some type of lizard jumps on her and she starts screaming. Ram has a flashback and starts pounding on the closed door. He yells "Aparna!" Mythili opens the door and asks Ram who is Aparna. He goes into the room and closes the door. He takes a bath but with renewed banging on the door (his new wife asking if he is alright) he is right back in a flashback again seeing his dead wife and her murderers.
The Statesman newspaper carries the headline: Pakistan Born Today. India Free at Mid-night. Walking around Ram is again bothered by flashbacks of his first wife. He goes back to his old apartment he had with his first wife. He talks with the current resident. He buys the painting his wife painted that hangs on the wall of the apartment. A wave of anti-Gandhi demonstrators takes Ram with it. They shout: "Where was Gandhi when the Hindus were being killed? . . . Where's Suhrawardy? Drag the scoundrel out!" Gandhi appears at a window. He brings Suhrawardy. Ram shouts the question: "As the Premier of Bengal, weren't you responsible?" The Premier looks as though he is about to cry. He says "yes". For accepting his guilt, the crowd claps for him. But Ram walks away. And he runs right into Shri Ram. He spent ten months in jail for evading arrest.
Mythili speaks with her mother on the phone. She is so happy. Her husband has come back. He apologizes to Mythili for leaving without telling her. Mythili says he should now apologize to her because he keeps referring to her as a child. She is an adult. And now, she says, she understands what he went through in Calcutta. He gives Mythili the painting he retrieved from Calcutta and says that it is a peace offering. She in turn gives him a painting. Mythili asks if she can hug him. She is delighted when he smiles slightly. She says she caught him red-handed. Now he laughs and smiles. They hug again, but are interrupted. The astrologer is here.
Ram doesn't believe in astrologers and gets in a huff over what the man tells him. He decides to leave the house. But this time, to his wife's surprise, she is going with him. On an airplane flight his wife praises Gandhi, while he defames him. He says Gandhi raises three types of monkey, all bad. Mythili replies: "I'm the monkey that sees, hears or speaks no evil."
They land and Sri Ram shows up, but with a different name: Ramkrishna Pande. Ram introduces him to his wife. He says welcome to Maharashtra. Sri Ram and Ram go on a hunt with another man. The third man says that Ram looks like a good candidate. The subject is dropped for a photograph of the three. The third man says "that for us rajas and maharajas all doors are now closed." He also says" "When Sardar Patel rules, rajas and maharajas will eat wafers." The wafer salesman is none other than Lalwani. Ram gets out of the car to greet his friend. Lalwani explains that the house and the shops went up in flames. They killed his wife. One child died of cholera and the other got completely lost in a huge crowd. "They slit their throats and sent their bodies."
At night Lalwani gets very drunk. Sri Ram gives Ram a drink with an opiate in it. Ram drinks it anyway. He starts to feel a high. Then he starts hallucinating about those terrible days again. Sri Ram tells Ram that Rajasaheb wants to see him. A speaker says that if they want to keep the spirit of Hinduism alive, they must kill Gandhi. On the wall is a picture of Adolf Hitler. The speaker says that Gandhi denies them even the right to self-defense. Sri Ram and Ram are chosen as assassins. Each man selects a pistol to use. Still under the influence Ram tries to pet with his wife. He takes her upstairs, puts her in bed and starts kissing her. He has sex with her.
There is a polo demonstration. Ram and Sri Ram are part of it. Sri Ram's horse falls and then rolls on top of Sri Ram. The horse has to be killed. The leader got Lalwanit a good job. Mythili tells Ram that God saved him and took mercy on her. Her parents never said it, but she tells her husband that she knows she loves him. Ram says: "Even I want to say it. . . . But my hands are stained with blood." He wants to tell her everything about himself. Perhaps then he would be at peace with himself. Mythili encourages him to do so.
Sri Ram will never walk again. Quadraplegia. He is paralyzed from the neck down. Ram goes in to see Sri Ram. He wants Ram to perform his duty. Ram says he will, so Sri Ram has him get a parcel from the night stand. It is a pistol. He wands him to kill Gandhi.
Back to the present. Ram awakens. He is rushed to the hospital. The police stop them and remind them it is December 6. And today there is a real possibility of a riot. They have to turn around and find another way. The grandson says he hates this combination of religion and politics in India. They run right into rioters. They hurriedly back up and try another way, but they run into a jam. A explosion occurs in the van they just pass. Then the police approach and start firing at their vehicle knocking out its tires. The police force everyone out of the van, including the sick Ram. They hide them in a an underground shelter nearby. The police receive the order to shoot the rioters, if necessary.
Flashback. In a dream Ram practices shooting with his pistol. Then a dust storm envelops him. He awakens. The family pays a visit to Ram and Mythili. Ram pulls up to the house in his car. He greets the family. He then quickly goes up stairs. Her mother asks Mythili if she has told her husband yet. Mythili tells her that since they came back from Maharashtra, he has hardly spoken to her. "He just keeps to himself." Ram is preparing for the execution. He is obsessed with this mission. He receives new that Sri Ram has died. Gandhi will be in Delhi for a month.
The family comes in singing. Good news. Mythili is pregnant. Uncle tells him to prostrate himself. He and his wife prostrate themselves. Ram is very silent. She smiles at him but he ignores her and goes upstairs.
At night his aunt's husband dies. Ram closes his eyes. He leaves the room without awakening his aunt. He goes into the sleeping Mythili. He touches her but does not awaken her. He goes to immerse himself in the waters of the river. He cuts some of his long hair off.
The family read the note he left. He says he forsakes his wife and child for the sake of his duty towards his motherland. His asks for forgiveness. He signs it: "Loveless: Saket Ram." At this moment Ram's aunt dies.
Ram is staying at the Hotel Marina. A man there talks to him. He turns out to be a pimp offering him Anglo-Indian and European women.
Ram takes a cab. There is a demonstration against Gandhi. Nehru is with Gandhi. Ram watches as Nehru walks away. He walks around the area plotting what he will do. He asks a man if it is o.k. to go inside. He wants to take a photo of Gandhi. The fellow tells him to go in. Ram makes his way to a window. It is strategically placed for an assassination attempt. As Ram walks out he tells the man he will be back. Any objections? The man gets a bit miffed at him. He says his buddy has already asked him ten different times for permission to use the window to take photos. Ram is shocked. Yes, the fellow says, the other photographer gave him ten rupees. And he wants ten rupees from Ram. And it will be another ten rupees after he has finished.
Gandhi is carried in a chair by four men. Ram watches intently. Suddenly, his father-in-law shows up. They were shocked by his letter. But then they read the telegram he received. If he wanted to serve Gandhi, all he had to do was say so. Father-in-law introduces Ram to an industrial named. Goel. He tells Ram that he has his father-in-law very worried. Father-in-law tells Ram that his aunt's died. That shock and the shock of Ram's leaving was too much for his aunt and she died. Moreover, his Uncle Bhashyam is bed-ridden.
Gandhi starts speaking to the crowd. He is very weak so a woman relays the message to the crowd. Ram sees the window behind Gandhi and a man looking out from it. Ram also notices four men in the crowd signaling each other. One of the four sets off an explosion. Gandhi calms them. Ram starts approaching Gandhi. More police arrive.
Ram walks from the area with his father-in-law and Mr. Goel. Mr. Goel has promised that Ram will meet Gandhi personally, as long as Gandhi is feeling well. Ram goes back to his hotel. The police come to the hotel with their prisoner. They tell the manager that they have a warrant to search all the rooms. There is a man here plotting the assassination of Gandhi. The police knock on his door. Ram hides the gun in a soft drink truck below his balcony.. He then rushes to flush the toilet. He opens the door but the police only tell him not to leave him room.
When Ram goes to the balcony to retrieve the pistol, the truck is gone. Ram goes looking for the Azad Soda Factory. He runs into the pimp and demands to know where the factory is located. As he is disputing with the pimp his old friend Amjad bumps into him. He asks how is Aparna. Ram tells him she was killed in the Calcutta riots. He then tells his friend about the Azad Soda Factory. Ajad just laughs and tells him to come with him. The pimp comes along with them. He takes them to the factory. He knocks on the door with a secret code and tells the fellow looking through a small window that a man wants to see Uncle Jalal. They are allowed in through a different door. There are men with rifles everywhere. Azad talks with with his uncle tries to explain, but one of the men knock him down a flight of stairs and accuses Ajad of being a traitor. Uncle, a Muslim, says that first he will deal with Ram and the pimp. He says: "Your friend's purse has turned into a gun. Magic!" He then asks Ajad if he has forgotten that Hindus killed his father and uncle. They think that Ram wants to kill the Mussalman brothers hiding in the factory. They plan to shoot Ram only in the knees, not kill him. Ram goes into action fighting with the Muslims. He goes out the window fighting with the Uncle. They struggle for the pistol. A Muslim is going to shoot Ram, but he points the gun in the man's direction and pulls the trigger. The man's dead body falls on Ram and Uncle. The Uncle goes unconscious and Ram runs away. They run after Ram. Ajad catches him, but hides him from the pursuing Muslims. Meanwhile, the pimp calls his boss to send help.
Ajad says he will help Ram get out of this mess alive. Ram says he will get out of it himself. He intends to shoot his way through. Azad says: "Which means that gun is meant for killing Mussalmans!" Ajad asks him what's the matter with him. Does he want to kill Muslims for killing his wife. His father was killed by Hindus, but he doesn't want to kill Hindus. He gets down on his knees and asks forgiveness for killing Aparna. And Ajad says he in turn forgives the Hindus. Ram is unmoved. So Ajad tells Ram just to shoot him. Rams says he is not here to kill him but to put a stop to the whole movement. He tells Ajad that he will kill Gandhi. Ajad says no, that Gandhi is the only sanity in this country. He looks at Ram and says: "You have gone mad. . . . You're mad."
A Hindu mob now appears. And it's Ram's turn to try to save Ajad. Ajad keeps talking about Gandhi without hiding and so Ram socks him and then kicks him to a corner. The pimp shows up with the Hindus. The pimp's boss says that they are going to attack the soda factory and they want Ram's pistol. Ajad pops up and says forget the soda factory. He'll show them a place where the Muslims have stock-piled guns. Ram tries to cover for Ajad, but Ajad insists on telling the truth. When he gives his full name a Hindu behind him hits him in the back of the head with a sledge hammer. Ram in turn shoots the Hindu dead. The boss approaches Ram and wounds him with a slash from a knife. Ram shoots the boss. The bullet goes through the man and into the pimp, killing both of them. The other Hindus run away. Ajad is still alive, but very dazed and confused. Ram bandages him up and carries him back to the soda factory. He has to fight his way through. Nafisa greets her husband. She asks Ram what happened. A woman delivers a baby. Ram cringes in a corner. Ajad goes up to find Hindus battling Muslims. Ajad tries to call a truce, but they shoot him. Ram opens up on the Hindus. He is like a killing machine until he runs out of ammunition. A Muslim throws him his rifle and then gets shot in the head. The fighting stops for awhile. Ram grabs a pitchfork. It's the police. They say they know they were attacked. Ram lets them in. The bay is born but Ram had to tell the mother of the woman with the baby that her son is dead, killed in the fighting.
Ram is taken on a tour of the hospital. His guide shows him the full beds with people hurt in the riots. He says the riots have started anew all because of some gun-totting fool. Thanks to Gandhi they called a truce. The police question Amjad about the identity of the gun-totting Hindu. Ajad will not tell on his friend. He says he only know Ram who saved his life. He takes Ram's hand and then he dies. The doctor tells Ram to tell his wife and mother that he is dead.
Ram watches Gandhi. A man tells Gandhi he has ruined them. He tells him to retire to the Himalayas. Ram's father-in-law and Mr. Goel are there. They introduce Ram to Gandhi. Amjad's mother is also, along with Nafisa. Gandhi says he is deeply sorry to hear of Ajad's death.
Back to the present. Ram awakens. He thinks the nurse he sees is his second wife. Ram dies. They are let out of their shelter after the riots subside.
At Ram's funeral his wife is there. She says he has left her all alone. The grandson meets the great grandson of Gandhi. He shows the man his grandfather's room. He wants to tells Gandhi's relative a story. The man is pleased because he is a fan of the writer.
Flashback. Ram want to confess a great sin to Gandhi. But Gandhi says he has so little time left. They will talk on their walk to Pakistan. Gandhi is assassinated. The crowd starts beating the assassin. Ram takes out his pistol, but Gandh's assistant calls for the crowd not to hurt the man, "Gandhi's child". Ram puts the pistol back in it's box. He picks up Gandhi's shoes and glasses. The assassin was not a Muslim, but a Hindu. Ram hears Mr. Jinnah tell Mr. Nehru thank God it wasn't a Muslim who was the assassin.
Back to the present. Ram's grandson gives Gandhi's great grandson Gandhi's sandal and glasses. He tells the man his grandfather's story.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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