Japanese Ramayana: Bollywood has yet again delivered perfectly on the expected lines. Seeing the past anti-Hindu trends of Bollywood, it never had the capability to successfully adapt the revered Hindu epic, Ramayana. It seems that the failing industry tried to exploit Hindu scriptures and epics for profiteering. Even in this money-minded approach it has failed miserably in doing so.
The awful erroneous teaser of Adipurush, claimed to be based on Hindu epic Ramayana, has significantly highlighted the importance of simplicity, devotion and good intentions depicted in the Japanese animated film Ramayana – The Legend of Prince Rama (Ramayana – Rama Ouji Densetsu).
Animated Ramayana: A symbol of strong cultural ties of India and Japan
In 1983, Japanese filmmaker Yugo Sako came to India for the first time. He was highly impressed when he got the knowledge about the story of Ramayana. After which, he did in depth research and read upto 10 different versions of Ramayana in Japanese. Spellbound by the Hindu epic, he desired to make an animation film on it. After his relentless efforts in pursuing both the governments of the nations, he gained success.
Even back then the anime culture was very popular in Japan, and therefore, the director Yugo Sako wanted to give a grand portrayal to one of the world’s most influential epic. The Japanese animated film ‘Ramayana’ was a joint production, in 1992. It was done to mark the completion of 40 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.
However, the film couldn’t get a theatrical release in India. A misinformation spread like wildfire courtesy to an erroneous and misleading report in The Indian Express. The newspaper erroneously reported that Yugo Sako was creating a new Ramayana, based on his documentary ‘The Ramayana Relics’. Going by the newspaper title, the Vishva Hindu Parishad wrote a complaint letter to the Japanese embassy in Delhi.
It had doubts about the film’s authentic adaptation of the old epic and the potential impact of the animation medium on the epic’s ethics. VHP declared that no outsiders could unfairly shoot the Ramayana because it was India’s great cultural icon.
However, all the misgivings, doubts and apprehensions were put to rest after its Television release. About 20 years ago, it appeared on Cartoon Network on the auspicious occasion of Diwali. It gave a good competition to Ramanand Sagar’s iconic TV series ‘Ramayana’.
The strong positives of the film
Do you know that Arvind Trivedi was not the first choice for Ravana in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana? The director wanted to cast Amrish Puri, a well-known actor notorious for playing negative characters. But the actor was preoccupied with shooting for ‘Mr India’.
However, later during the production of the animated Ramayana, he gave his legendary voice to Ravana. The voice of Shri Ram was dubbed in the immortalized voice of Arun Govil who back then was seen as a personification of Shri Ram’s traits.
The English version of the film ‘Ramayana – The Legend of Prince Ram’ was narrated by James Earl Jones. He also voiced Mufasa in The Lion King. In addition to that, Breaking Bad lead Bryan Cranston, famous for playing Walter White in the series, lent his voice to the English dub of Shriram.
The melodious songs of the film were given by Vanraj Bhatia that pierced the hearts of every devotee. For example, the song ‘Janaani Main Ramdoot Hanuman’ touches a spiritual chord with the audiences. On top of that it is sung in the melodious voice of Udit Narayan.
It will not be wrong to say that it made an honest effort in doing Justice with the epic and assimilating most of the things of Valmiki Ramayana accurately. In the movie, the team has beautifully used Sanskrit shlokas to its advantage that adds another feather in its hat.
Gladly, the movie has been remastered in 4k to improve the viewing experience of the masterpiece. As earlier, to strengthen the relationship between India and Japan, TEM Co., Ltd. and Anime Pop Mall announced a 4K remaster of the earlier animated movie.
The movie is getting special screenings in multiple places and it will be released in India to mark the 70th year of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.
— Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (Official) (@RamayanaAnime) October 5, 2022
On comparing the two, Adipurush and the animated version of Ramayan, the differences are glaringly visible. Bollywood should realise that technology or not, VFX or not, what matters more is the intentions and truthfulness of the original Hindu epic and its spiritual connection with the devotees.
It is clear that Adipurush has fallen short in doing justice to the religious sentiments of billions of devotees. In contrast, Yugo Sako’s Ramayana, with its closeness to the original, has had a long-lasting and irreversible influence! Jai Shri Ram. Glory to Shri Ram.
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