Return of Hanuman
Return of Hanuman
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Thursday 27 December 2007
Return of Hanuman
What a return this is of the much-adored deity ? this time in present age, where Lord Bramha keeps a tab on Earth?s soaring crime graph over the computer and Narad strums a guitar instead of the sitar.
A worried Lord Hanuman is moved by the plight of Minku who is bullied by his classmates and wants to go to Earth to help him. Hanuman checks on the boy through a computer screen and zooms in to Bajrangpur, to keep a track on the boy very often. He also tells Narad that seeing the same faces up in the sky, main pak chuka hoon. When not following Minku?s life, Hanuman, mischievous to the hilt, zips around the world replacing himself with the Statue of Liberty and throwing Osama Bin Laden and George Bush in a net.
When Hanuman approaches Lord Bramha for permission to visit Earth, Bramha tries to dissuade him and asks Chitragupt, who is busy surfing meneka.com, to show Earth?s escalating crime rate. But Hanuman is adamant and Bramha finally agrees after he signs a `contract? and agrees to all the conditions. Thus a baby with a tiny tail is born to a Pundit. Maruti, as he is named, is an adorable child who grows inexplicably fast and is forever hungry. He becomes the savior of Minku and his other harassed friends (a nerdy girl, fat boy, clich?s galore).
Meanwhile demons, like Rahu and Ketu, who had vanished from Earth to live in Shukragraha, are back. A series of events sets off the `parlay?, where humankind is on the brink of being destroyed by nature?s fury. There?s a neat message towards the end, though not fully explored, of stopping the exploitation of Mother Nature.
The filmmaker (Anurag Kashyap) is convinced that details on the story are not that important, and that kids are not going to want to know the layers of why and what, as long as Hanuman whacks the bad guys cold. Which is why the explanation of the story?s context is hurried through in the beginning, making the viewer feel a tad rushed. Perhaps the story could have been thrashed out more peacefully with explanations that kids would follow.
Kids are likely to enjoy the modernisation of the tale, right from the colloquial Hindi-English interspersed conversation, to the use of computers and fax machines etc. There are plenty of innovative modern touches that are likely to tickle the little viewers, like when Lord Vishnu is fighting a demon that breathes fire, Vishnu uses a fire extinguisher to douse the flames. Takeoffs are replete with spoofs on Matrix, Sholay?s Gabbar Singh and even Himesh Reshammiya; some work, some don?t. Dialogues by Anurag Kashyap does a great job of balancing contemporary with mythical with a generous sprinkling of wit. Narad, in an interesting spin on the popular phrase of walls having ears, sushes Hanuman saying, Yahan badalon ke bhi kaan hote hain.
What is disappointing is the chauvinistic portrayal of women characters ? they?re either sari-clad mothers or cheerleaders in short red skirts and apsaras in revealing clothes. One might be tempted to skim over this in the name of light-hearted fun, but kids are perceptive and pick up fast, and such stereotypical images just strengthen the already biased conditioning society feeds them. While there?s no control over the content in films otherwise, a children?s film perhaps ought to be more accountable.
The songs are fabulous (music by Tapas Relia; lyrics by Satish Mutatkar). Animation, as in the earlier Hanuman, is superlative. While Return of Hanuman is not a sequel to Hanuman, comparisons are inevitable. While Hanuman had more to tell in terms of story, Return of Hanuman excels in the storytelling style serving up a modern-mythological combination. It?s aloo paratha with pizza topping-your kids will love it!