'Raavan', 'Raajneeti': Epic inspirations in Indian cinema
'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' stories and characters have been adapted into several movies. Two films released in the last two weeks, have been inspired by them. A look at some Bollywood films which borrowed heavily from these epics.
Text: Shweta Parande | Photos: Publicity Stills
Mani Ratnam's mega project has been hugely inspired by the Lord Ram, Seeta and Raavan saga. Ragini (Seeta played by Aishwarya Rai) is the wife of police officer, Dev (Ram played by Vikram) who is kidnapped by a Raavan-like Beera (Abhishek Bachchan). Just that in the film, the Seeta actually sympathises with Raavan. Nikhil Dwivedi and Govinda's characters are said to be based on Lakshman and Hanuman's roles.
Prakash Jha's hit film had its characters and their story loosely based on the Mahabharata. Ranbir Kapoor was Arjun, Nikhila Trikha was Kunti, Nana Patekar was Krishna, Ajay Devgan was Karan, Manoj Bajpayee was Duryodhana and so on…. The film was accepted very well.
Sooraj Barjatya's 1999 drama was a modern take on Ramayana. Mohnish Behl's character was of Ram's while Salman Khan played the doting brother based on Bharat's character. Stepmother Kaikeyi's character is ably played by Reema Lagoo. A musical treat which did quite well.
Before 'Raavan', Mani Ratnam was inspired by the Mahabharata to make his multi-starrer 'Thalapathi' (1991), also released in Hindi in a dubbed version (as 'Dalapati'). The movie adapted the Arjuna-Karna-Kunti angle like 'Raajneeti'. Rajnikanth was Karna, Srividya was Kunti, Arvind Swami was Arjun, and Mammootty was Duryodhana. Shobhana played a character akin to Draupadi's.
This 1980 film was inspired by the epic story of Pandavas of Mahabharata. The film shows the struggle between the ruling and working classes in contemporary India. The five main actors (who loosely represented the Pandavas) were Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Gulshan Grover and Uday Chandra.
A year later (1981), Shyam Benegal retold Mahabharata in a saga of two warring divisions of a business family. The characters were etched out just like the Mahabharata. The film was produced by Shashi Kapoor who also starred in it in a powerful role. The other cast included Rekha, Raj Babbar, Supriya Pathak, Anant Nag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Sushma Seth, Akash Khurana, Victor Bannerjee, Reema Lagoo and A.K. Hangal. And B'wood hottie Urmila Matondkar played Rekha's little son in the film.