Adipurush – the ‘un-Dharmic’ Ramayana

Adipurush looks like a very deliberate attempt to Abramacize the great Ramayan.

Om Raut didn’t just misinterpret the great epic; he removed everything Dharmic in the story. The movie is an uninspiring video game-like collection of images that reduces the great epic to a dry, tiresome and superficial retelling.

The list of blunders is endless – Lanka is not a ’swarn nagari’ but a dingy and depressing black-coloured hell. Ravana is not a learned Vedic scholar but a humanised bull that makes snorting sounds in every second scene. Also, instead of Pushpak Viman, Raavana abducts Ma Sita in a Game of Thrones-style dragon.

Vibhishan brings his mistress along when he meets Rama for the first time outside Lanka. This mistress has a semi-nude scene with Vibhishana before she dons the role of a physician who administers Sanjeevani herb to Lakshman. What was the need to replace the part of Lankan royal physician Sushena with a made-up character like her?

Every action scene would remind us of some popular Hollywood film or TV show. After spending 600 crores on making this film, is this the best the Indian audience can get?

Let’s not even get into the costume choices. Ravana is seen wearing a T-shirt and cape. Many in Vanar Sena had afro-type hairstyles.

Without a doubt, this film is the most inaccurate retelling of Ramayana. It starts from the Kishkinda Kaand. Samvaad between key characters and the Dharmik debates are essential to Ramayana, but they are absent from the film.

But there are some concrete reasons why we think ‘Adipurush’ is an attempt to Abrahamacize the epic. The reasons are as follows:

  1. The word ‘Dharma’ has been used just once in the film.
  2. The Vanar Sena cannot even chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’. They chant ‘Raghav jahaan, Vijay wahaan’. Why so reluctant to include ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in dialogues?
  3. Ravana was a learned Vedic scholar, who ruled over a prosperous empire. He wasn’t a Johnny-Bravo-meets-Turkish-Tyrant type villain who wears kohl in his eyes and mutters dialogue in Urdu.
  4. Ravana wasn’t pure evil personified, unlike what is shown in the film. The war was about Dharma vs Adharma, not simply Good guy v/s Bad guy.
  5. According to the epic, Rama catches Ravana’s spy Shuka before the war and lets him go instead of punishing him. However, the movie shows that Rama asked Angad to show Shuka around the camp and introduce him to all his generals before sending him to Lanka safely. Rama also preached about “winning the enemy’s heart through forgiveness.”

    This scene, created just for the film, attempts to minimise Kshatra Dharma, the core theme of Ramayana and an essential need in our times to preserve the rising Hindu consciousness.
  6. Dialogue writer Manoj ‘Muntashir’ Shukla should apologise to the Hindu community for dialogues like “Bhaiyya, aap toh apne kaal k liye kaalin bicha rahe hain“. There are similar dialogues involving words like jasoos, aasmaan, khud. We shouldn’t be blamed for wondering if he was writing for audiences in Pakistan.

    It is unforgivable that characters in ‘Adi Purush’ were made to speak dialogues in sadak-chhap slang.

    Sample 1 – Jo humaari behenon ko haath lagayega, uski hum lanka lagaa denge

    Sample 2 – tel tere baap ka, aag tere baap ki, toh jalegi bhi tere baap ki

    Even a child could have reminded Muntasir that these events took place in Treta Yug, not some medical campus in Delhi
  7. And it is disgusting that Ma Sita and whoever was Vibhishana’s mistress had to expose their skins so much. We were aware that Bollywood filmmakers have an unhealthy obsession with female nudity, but to cast their perverse nets over Ramayana is a line they shouldn’t have crossed.

    In short, as an elderly audience member within this writer’s earshot said after this movie – We are thankful that this Om Raut didn’t include a Mushaira or Mujra in ‘Adipurush’.

Let’s call the spade a spade – This film is a dishonest, disgusting attempt to capitalise on the rising Hindu consciousness. Raut had requested producers to keep a theatre seat vacant during every screening in honour of Lord Hanuman. However, any Ram Bhakt after watching this film would tell you this announcement was just a publicity stunt. The film lacks Bhakti, conviction, character, and most importantly, the idea of Dharma. 

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I watch how Bollywood engages with and represents Hindu society. A non-Marxist film critic writing in English.

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