The International Movie Review

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Return Of Hanuman – IRREVERENT BLUNDER!

Posted by harino1 on December 30, 2007

IndiaGlitz  [Saturday, December 29, 2007]

The importance of the three pillar of cinema – script, direction and editing – is not confined to live features but also extends to animation, documentaries and anything on movie camera. Nothing highlights this more than The Return Of Hanuman, a complete anticlimax after the pioneering and enlightening Hanuman in 2005.

Maybe, too late in the day, the producers realized this somewhere, so right in the beginning of the credit titles they clarify that this is not a sequel. After all, every sequel since 2006 has bettered the predecessor!

The importance of a director who knows clearly what he is doing is again spotlighted graphically. Director (?) and co-writer (??) Anurag Kashyap is least equipped to deal with the rather fanciful subject of Lord Hanuman wanting to be an earthly kid and being born in a humble family. With the right creative team at the helm, this could have been a wonderful exercise with high fun and novelty quotients! But he lets things go completely haywire, neither satiating animation feature buffs, nor devotees of the lord, nor fans of the first film and certainly not the international audience the film wants to target. In simple words, he makes a global laughing stock of Hindu mythology and the superhero genre!

For one, he brings in a convoluted semi-mythological angle where Shukracharya, the guru of demons, takes on the shape of the planet Shukra (Venus). Shukracharya curses mankind that it would be destroyed by a creature created by his own sins.

A very much adult Hanuman is envious of the fun some school-kids are having and after sight-seeing around the world to a very modern background track – the liberties taken here including the Statue of Liberty dancing away world and Hanuman bendings the Twin Towers so that the 9/11 attacking planes pass through!! – wants to visit Earth. Brahma lays down certain conditions, and his account-keeper Chitragupta draws out the printout of a contract from his computer!

Hanuman is born to a village pandit and his wife as a cute kid with a tail, a monkey-like countenance and an insatiable appetite that soon finishes every grain of food in the village. The funny angle here is not exploited well. Meanwhile a whole lot of dark things happen. There is a mysterious wall as high as a mountain behind which demons reside in the village. The pandit joins the many missing people (all shown with “Missing” placards on the mountain wall!) and everyone’s cool about it including Hanuman and the priest’s wife! Finally Maruti has to save the world from parlay unleashed by the demons, apart from the kid solving the problems of his schoolmates, including a kid who is an underdog.

The absurdities and irreverent things shown in the film are plain mind-boggling apart from being sometimes offensive in the desperate effort to be ‘with-it’ and appeal to a generation that should be educated instead. The script is painful – we do not mind Hanuman as well as his kid avatar Maruti using English words, but we must draw a line at cameras focussing on the behinds of mini-skirt wearing females cavorting to music, or Hanuman threatening to expose Narad’s eavesdropping on Lord Brahma’s romantic rendezvous! Then we have a chap speaking like Shah Rukh Khan and a reprise complete with dialogues of Gabbar Singh in Sholay.

By a little past interval you have completely lost interest in all the action, because emotionally, the film leaves you completely cold. I would recommend a strong dose of current Hollywood animation features to Mr Kashyap and his co-writer Amit Babbar. Leave your stone-cold dark noir content for all those overrated Black Fridays, Mr Kashyap! Go see Ice Age, Shrek, The Incredibles and so on!

Yes, technically the film is amazing. Though Indian people are as usual drawn with drab facial features, the actual animation has been superlatively done and the Toonz Animation team deserves high kudos. The background music is familiar but competent and the songs barely there.

And one final word to all those behind the content of the film – the liberties taken here can be only tolerated by the liberal Hindus. Try this with the other religions and deities and you will know what it means. If you cannot educate Indian children with our great mythological heroes, stay away and make another dark thriller or namby-pamby romcom. With his legendary magnaminity, Hanuman may forgive you, but not the audience. And very successive generation is bringing up more intelligent children whose tolerance level to sheer nonsense is reducing by the day!

Rating: ** (entirely for the technical team!)

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