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The Ramayan Metaphor in Judgementall Hai Kya is a Force Fit, Here are Other Films That Drew Parallels with the Epic

Judgementall Hai Kya is the latest in a long list of Bollywood films that have drawn parallels with the Ramayana or re-imagined the epic to suit their narratives.

Bohni Bandyopadhyay | News18.com

Updated:July 27, 2019, 4:21 PM IST
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The Ramayan Metaphor in Judgementall Hai Kya is a Force Fit, Here are Other Films That Drew Parallels with the Epic
Judgementall Hai Kya is the latest in a long list of Bollywood films that have drawn parallels with the Ramayana or re-imagined the epic to suit their narratives.
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The second half of Judgementall Hai Kya draws a parallel with one part of the Ramayana - Sita's predicament when her character is questioned. Kangana Ranaut's character Bobby takes up a job as an understudy for Sita in a stage production of Ramayan 2.0, a modern reimagining of the epic.

Interestingly, the film's writer Kanika Dhillon herself appears on screen as the Sita in the modern-day London stage production. The plot device is supposed to make a point about looking at the 'Sita vs Raavan' situation with new eyes. Bobby is convinced that Keshav (Rajkummar Rao) is the Raavan here, and it is he who should undergo the agnipariksha to prove his innocence, and not the woman accusing him, as the epic traditionally depicts.

The film brings alive the epic visually by dressing the people in Bobby's head as characters from the Ramayan. She dresses up as Sita in the climax to challenge Raavan, as Keshav's evil reflection in multiple mirrors emerges as a clear reference to the 10-headed king. Visual imagery aside, the parallel falls flat, confusing mental instability with character assassination. If the writer wanted us to look at Bobby's situation through a gender prism, mental instability notwithstanding, the translation isn't convincing.

The Ramayan has been used as a metaphor effectively in multiple Bollywood movies, but Judgementall Hai Kya is not one of them. The most recent example is Kalank, where Alia Bhatt's stepping out of her marital home to seek training in singing from a courtesan is a symbolic crossing of the Laxman Rekha, exposing herself to Varun Dhawan's Raavan. When she meets him for the first time in the film, there is an effigy of Raavan burning in the background.

We had similar visual imagery strewn all over Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. Apart from naming his male protagonist Ram, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was effective in merging a Shakespearean drama with an Indian epic in depicting the tussle between the star-crossed lovers.

Judgementall Hai Kya will also remind you of Nautanki Saala, where a similar stage production of modern Ramayan is seen as a parallel with the offstage life of its protagonists. Ayushmann Khurrana's Ram plays the role of Raavan in the stage play, while Kunaal Roy Kapur is given the role of a bumbling Ram.

The question of whether Raavan was really the evil king was explored by Mani Ratnam in 2010. His film seemingly followed the epic to the T, but only till the climax, where a role reversal happens between Ram and Raavan (Dev and Beera in the film). Aishwariya Rai's Ragini has to choose between self-respect and her husband Dev, who tricks her into returning to her abductor Beera in order to catch him. Mani Ratnam makes it clear where his sympathies lie when Beera dies trying to save Ragini from bullets.

Farah Khan attempted a rather simplistic allusion to the Ramayan in Main Hoon Na. She named Shah Rukh Khan Ram, his half brother Lakshman, and despite calling Sunil Shetty Raghavan, makes him the antagonist of the film.

Over the years, many other Hindi movies, like Dilli 6 and Ra.One, have used the epic as a way to layer their narratives, as the Ramayan continues to be interpreted as more than just a good vs evil tale by filmmakers.

Watch our review of Judgementall Hai Kya here:

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