Myths/ Films

Myths & icons are part of every culture – be it Santa Claus or Hanuman… I found it interesting that two major releases in India this month are based on the oldest epics of the country –

Rajneeti ( a take on Mahabharat) and Raavan (a spin on Ramayan).

The posters dont say it, nor do the trailers point it out but it is on the mind of every viewer who is connecting the dots while watching the film. After all, these are stories that lie somewhere between mythology and history in the conscience of the common man- and therefore the filmmaker’s interpretation would need to refresh and yet reinforce.

Both the filmmakers Prakash Jha and Mani Ratnam have their distinct voices and looks like there will be plenty to talk about!  Kavalam Narayana Panikkar Sir once defined it for me -“the beauty of a myth is that it is relevant in all times”. Let’s hope we can say that after watching these films.

41 thoughts on “Myths/ Films

  1. I think it was Ananda Coomaraswamy who once said that – myths are the penultimate truth – And so, it’s a great jump off point!

  2. Regarding Duryodhana (from a previous comment) – he knew right from wrong all along. But he had to follow his vasanas. That’s life!

  3. Maybe it’s not the environmebt. Perhaps the modern artist/cultural elite is mediocre at best, amd maybe is uneble to mine the unconscious for the precious jewels.

  4. Myths are public dreams while dreams are private myths. The problem is that we are no longer creating myths for the past centuries/millenia. This may be because societies have gone through tremendous flux in the past millenia, and myths cannot come out of such an environment. Which begs the question – can a society survive without a myth?

    1. thats a fantastic question..can a society survive without a myth….? is there any corner in the world where there is not a single myth…?

      1. What about the modern state – I’m not sure what we have as myths and icons – the nation state, UFOs, barbie dolls, flying saucers , teddy bears, … Do they go far enough?

        1. more myths are to follow…the omnipotent mobilephone, cyberghosts, ….modern myths…new myths…..reworked myths…remixed versions….original new myths…a discussion about the modern state is welcome at this point of time…..i think virtual states will generate more myths….facebook, youtube ….

          1. You can see it in large screen/full screen mode here:


            And you have Vishnu massaging Lakshmi’s feet at the end. Reactionary or evolutionary?!

  5. re-interpretation of myths is exciting for the writer/filmmaker/viewer. it broadens the mind. the empathy of the writer with the human side, can reveal unexplored corners of the characters mind. that can give an insight into the characters thoughts, actions, motives…then suddenly good maynot seem all good and bad maynot be condemned as all bad…….just humans..with shades of goodness and evil..just like all of us…

    myths are relevant for all times? i believe only relevant myths have endured. the reason why Mahabharata and Ramayana are relevant is because all these are great human stories.

  6. Anjalichechee
    Saw Ravana and Ravan. Ravana is done a great job. God wins always. But question is that whether he is right? Manirathnam has done a marvelous job by portraying the Draveedian identity and truths. Malayalam poets like vayalar has told the similar in his poems like “Ravanaputhri” and “ThaaTaka enna Draavida raajakumari”
    And what do you think the reason for the immortal nature of Myths..? I think its because that its not written by a single person and nor in a specific interval of time. These are the product of imagination of hundreds of people for hundreds of years. It becomes richer and richer when it passes through civilizations. Now Ramayana has many sub stories which are unknown for Valmeeki!!

    1. Wellsaid Chithrabhanu! I do agree that in their survival over many generations, the myths do become a collective memory to which every teller adds a bit of their own. And that would play a big role towards the universality of the myth itself.

  7. i haven’t watched neither of the films since i was in a great schedule last 2 weeks.
    myth … enne eppozhum bhramippichittulla subjects ….

    when i read “randamoozham” of MT..
    i was really trembling on his words…
    i always dreamed one day that subject would become a movie…

    any way … i watched a movie called “Magadheera” thelugu film.
    though it has a masalization on certain parts, but the old age parts were awesome…
    dramatization was a great work in that film…

  8. Hi Anjali,
    I happened to see kerala cafe a few days back.Beautiful.The CD was lying in my shelf for 2 weeks.I was wondering wheher to see or not.But after watching the movie it left a pain.Congrags for the wonderful movie.

  9. Changing the mythological story is also good to watch, like MT Vasudevan nair done in Vadakkan Veeragadha and Perumthachan…

  10. Panikkar Sir is right. Myths remain relevant. As for the movies, both of them were no patch for their source text. Even with its flaws, Raajneeti managed to an extent, but Raavan was more about visual appeal than actual story.

  11. Like to make a telefilm ,interested to direct a film for me.any new flare in ur mind pls let me know

  12. Rajeneeti – Yes, its Shakuni revisited, just that this time he joined sides with the Pandavas, if you have observed 😉 !

    Nana Patekar was the best.
    Ajay Devagan as Karna did work well
    But then how can you not observe Arjun Rampal and Katrina Kaif who were “acting”!!!! … that was something for a change !;)

    But then Kudos to the most promising Ranbir who made is mark inspite of veterans and character actors around.
    He really has some stuff ma’am.
    And for Raavan, waiting for the release tomorrow at AMC and BigCinemas – Chicago !!!

    Keep in touch …


    1. Hope u got to see it… of all the excuses in the world- when I went to the cinema yesterday I was told that the show is cancelled because the projector lamp had stopped functioning!!

  13. There was always a conflict between virtue and vice existed in every epics.
    In human ecosytem this conflict exists regardless of time and period.So it is quite natural for an art spectator to identify and related this nature to his or her contemporary period.This nature of art is the reason why cinema or performing arts or novel captivates one’s imagination.One can easily identify this conflict in Gladiator or Devasuram…

    1. the virtuous may not seem so virtuous after a re-interpretation….a duryodhana is duryodhana for some, but suyodhana for others….

          1. Interesting question… there are several myths that are interesting but some characters I would like to reinterpret would be Radha Krishna in a human lovestory minus euphemisms – another one is Amba turning to Shikhandi story in Mahabharata. Now you got me thinking!

  14. Have watched Rajneeti. Some small references to the Mahabharatha, it is just based on the “politricks” of today and some bloodshed.

      1. i think we should classify GODFATHER as a modern epic/myth….they just cant stay away from this mob family’s tale….raajneeti less said the better..a school boy exercise ….during my college days i never felt any remorse spending time watching unworthy films…but now i hate anything that spoils my time….i hate raajneeti for this….

  15. Panikkar Sir’s observation sounds very much true, Anjali. In an interview one of the prominent scriptwriters in Malayalam had mentioned about the wide canvas of epics and how he used to revisit those.

    As a common man, what makes it much adorable to me is when authors like MT Sir[Vadakkan veeragaadha, Randaamoozham, Perumthachan] and Mali [Karnasapatham kathakali] played around with characters giving them a different dimension and therefore a different ‘character’; and how the expertise of directors [hariharan, ajayan] made the movies so refreshing to the viewers.

    Read about Malayalam’s brilliant storyteller Padmarajan Sir’s childhood – that his mother, [a sanskrit scholar] used to narrate epics for him. As an educated mother, she might have identified how epics can fill imagination and colors in a child’s mind.

    Yet another perspective: Lord Krishna is the ‘Cosmic Mentor’ according to Management Expert Shri. VK Madhav Mohan.

    So there is a lot more in the huge reservoirs of epics; let’s be smart to extract and serve hot and ‘fresh’.

    1. You’re right Asish… such works have demonstrated to us the power of myth and the power of reinterpretation… would be fantastic to see Randamoozham as a movie!
      Last year I came across Chithra Divakarunni’s ‘Palace of Illusions’ which is a retelling of Mahabharata through Draupadi’s first hand perspective. Suddenly there was the ancient heroine, fiery and full of foibles like any headstrong modern woman charting her course in life!
      I loved Padmarajan sir’s retelling of the Gandharvan myth through Njan Gandharvan… let us hope the ‘re’works live upto the myths.

  16. i hope that these films will keep up their names.i haven’t seen rajneeti so i can’t say any comment on that.but raavan wiil keep it because of the directors cut in it..

  17. exactly..”the beauty of a myth is that it is relevant in all times”.i too agree with his point of view..but as i haven’t seen any of the films said above,the myths are being depicted is,being the modern world,has a backward view with all kinds of mythns like ramayana or mahabharatha..the relevance should be given to the myth,that it should be depicted as such,without any additional it can reach the audience at a large..

    hope to see a film of yours as soon a s possible..good luck for your work with revathy ma’ are my ideal person..!!

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