The city is burning in the rage of communal violence, streets are dripping of blood streams, screams of innocent women and children echo in the deafening silence and mobs are using hate speech for their religious propaganda.  No, I’m not talking about the recent Delhi violence, this is a scene from Kamal Hassan’s controversial political drama Hey Ram.  


As a millennial in her early 20’s who’s distressed with the ongoing socio-political scenario of our country, I decided to watch this revolutionary film. Watching Hey Ram at a time when the national capital is burning with the flames of communal violence, this progressive movie felt like a deja vu. 


The film traces the journey of a well-educated archaeologist Saket Ram (Kamal Hassan) and his transition to a violent Hindu extremist after he loses his wife to the brutal communal riots of Calcutta, only to realise the futility of his hatred and actions in the end.


From showcasing herd mentality during riots to the power of hate speech, the movie covers all aspects of communal violence. 

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These instances from Hey Ram will prove that this movie was way ahead of it’s time and is more relevant now than ever.  

1. Hey Ram showed us how even the most well-read and educated people can be blinded by instances of hate speech and choose the path of violence amidst the chaos.

In the movie, Ram was blinded by the lust and anger of vengeance so much that it made him forget who he was. Somebody who had no idea about the worsening situation of the communal riots in the beginning of the movie was now a violent right Hindu extremist resenting and killing innocent people from the Muslim community. 

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2. From the loss of life to materialistic loses, Hey Ram traces the impact of how the livelihood of victims from riots changes forever.

Hey Ram has managed to show us the ugly aftermath of communal riots. No matter the religion, at the end of the day, everybody ends up losing a part of their life. Whether it was leaving a visually-impaired young girl next to her old grandfather’s corpse or showing how the riots took away his industrialist friend Manohar’s livelihood along with his entire family, communal riots are a lose-lose sitaution. 

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3. The movie argues the ideologies of veganism way before it was a trend. 

When his second wife Mythili offers him some warm milk on their first day as a married couple, Ram told her that he doesn’t prefer dairy and gave her a very logical explanation behind it: 

4. Through a series of instances, Hey Ram turns the spotlight towards that one thing that steers the chaos in violent situations— herd mentality. 

While religious mobs were clashing against each other and the streets were filled with streams of blood, in a very chronological manner, Hey Ram has managed to capture the steps that can escalate a bunch of peaceful protestors into a violent mob. 


5. Asking the right questions and being a rebel with a cause, Ram rightly holds the government authorities responsible for their inability to control the communal riots. 

Enraged by his losses and furiously looking for answers, Kamal Hassan’s character joins a peaceful protest and holds the authorities responsible for the ongoing situation of communal riots in the movie. He further asks why the government failed  to control the mobs and the lack of police involvement. 

6. In a scene, Kamal Hasan’s character is seen asking for his own wife’s consent before making a move. 

Even though the movie touches up on the aspect of eroticism in a very beautiful way as if it’s a form of devotion, Kama Hassan’s character Ram asks for his wife’s consent like a true gentleman before making a sexual move. He emphasises on the need to know if she is comfortable. 

7. Another thing that the movie managed to capture was the essence of hate speech and the effect it has on igniting communal violence. 

Using religious propaganda and brainwashing people to call nationwide communal violence is something that this country has seen before. But this particular scene from Hey Ram shows the ugly side of it. After the riots were starting to get under control, Ram was walking down the street with his Hindu extremist friend Shriram, when a drunk man was waving India’s flag and screaming, Hindu-Muslim bhai, bhai. Enraged by this, Shriram says: 

8. In this scene, Ram’s second wife Mythili advocates an animal’s right to live and sets his husband’s and her friend’s principles right.

Standing up for the voiceless and focusing on animal cruelty, Mythili speaks up for animal rights and questions the ethics of a person who is a vegetarian by religion but chooses to kill innocent animals for leisure. Very diplomatically, she sheds light on the hypocritical stances and double standards. 

9. The movie showed us that friendship and humanity, even in times of dissent go beyond religion and societal labels.   

While Ram was blinded by his extremist ideology and hesitant to talk to his  old friend Amjad (Shah Rukh Khan), Amjad was the one who wanted Ram’s safety before the curfew. For him, Ram was still his yaara and not an enemy from another religion.

In fact, Amjad fought with his family to convince the fights with his family to convince them that his friend Ram is not one of the extremists. 

10. With this powerful dialogue, Amjad urges Ram to believe that there is equality and tells him that in this nation, no religion is superior to the other. 

Amidst the curfew, Amjad did everything he could to keep Ram safe but Ram who was riding on his religious high horse, preaching the “purity’ of his nation asked his dear friend of many years to move to Pakistan and worship his community’s leader Jinnah. To which Amjad said that sees Mahatma Gandhi as the father figure and he was not going to move out of the country. When Ram asked Amjad, who gave him the “permission” to stay here, he said: 

11. Towards the end, the film focuses on the futility of violence and divisive politics. 

Towards the end of the film, the two friends, Ram and Amjad forget their religions and join hands to protect each other from the wraths of communal violence. They both might be from different communities but in that moment, they just want to save a newborn baby and a bunch of innocent women who’re in hiding.

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Even though this movie was released almost two decades ago, the relevance of this movie is felt now more than ever before.