Ram Setu Movie Review: Navigating the Intersection of Myth and Reality


"Ram Setu: Bridging Faith and Science in Indian Cinema"

 

Introduction:

Indian cinema has witnessed a surge in films that echo the cultural agenda of the present political dispensation. Among these films, "Ram Setu" stands out as a persuasive attempt to explore the controversial theory surrounding the limestone shoals connecting the Pamban and Munnar islands. This unique category of movies brings Whatsapp messages and dinner table discussions to life on the big screen, showcasing the intersection of faith, science, myth, and oral history. Directed by Abhishek Sharma, "Ram Setu" captures the imagination while delivering a potent message on preserving cultural pride and the majoritarian view on faith.

 

Exploring the Controversy:

"Ram Setu" draws inspiration from the controversy surrounding the Sethusamudram Project and Pushkar Bhatnagar's book from 2003. Bhatnagar attempted to date the era of Lord Ram based on planetary positions described in Valmiki's Ramayan. By constructing a bridge between faith and science, the film delves into the historical significance of the Ram Setu structure, challenging the notion of its natural origin. This exploration not only reflects the cultural manifesto of the ruling party but also seeks to unify religion and culture in an intriguing manner.

 

The Cinematic Journey:

Set in 2007, the narrative structure of "Ram Setu" follows a similar path to "The Kashmir Files." Protagonist Aryan Kulsheshtra, portrayed by Akshay Kumar, undergoes a transformation much like the character in the aforementioned film. A celebrated liberal archaeologist, Aryan initially works to preserve Buddhist heritage in Bamyan alongside Pakistani and Afghan counterparts. However, his journey takes an unexpected turn when he is sent to Tamil Nadu to protect the interests of a shipping tycoon, who wishes to manipulate the Supreme Court with a favorable report. As Aryan and his team uncover evidence of Lord Ram's existence, their discoveries pose a threat to the tycoon's business interests.

 

Navigating the Complexities:

"Ram Setu" delves into the societal fabric of Hinduism, offering a critical lens on liberal and secular values within the religion. The film raises thought-provoking questions about dissenting opinions, hinting at potential consequences faced by those who hold contrary beliefs. Aryan's wife, a history professor, advises him to consider the faith of the majority before filing his report, illustrating the delicate balance between personal conviction and societal expectations. The couple's son, studying at a school associated with the government, becomes a target due to his father's beliefs, reflecting the film's portrayal of the majority's perceived persecution complex.

 

Selective Narration:

While "Ram Setu" explores historical events, it adopts a selective narrative that favors a particular perspective. The movie highlights the demolition of the Bamyan Buddha and Jaffna Public Library but conveniently omits the erasure of the Babri Mosque. It points out the re-routing of the Metro to protect the Qutb Minar but fails to mention its avoidance of the iconic Hanuman statue in Karol Bagh. Environmental concerns surrounding the Taj Mahal are addressed, yet the film fails to acknowledge that the Sethusamudram Project faced clearance issues due to environmentalist concerns, which were taken into account by the apex court. Notably, an environmentalist character portrayed by Jacqueline Fernandez remains merely ornamental.

 

An Imagined Golden Age:

Rather than delving into the complex layers of the past, "Ram Setu" aims to present an imagined golden age, blurring the boundaries between history and mythology. By focusing on the prism of faith, the film portrays an idealistic vision that fails to address the nuanced realities of the past. While it captures the imagination of its devoted audience, the film falls short in constructing a genuine bridge between faith and science.

 

Conclusion:

"Ram Setu" emerges as an intriguing addition to the genre of films that voice the cultural manifesto of the ruling party. Its exploration of the contentious theory surrounding the Ram Setu structure, blending faith, science, and mythology, offers a unique cinematic experience. However, the selective narration and imagined golden age representation leave room for critical examination. As the film continues to run in theaters, it invites audiences to reflect on the complexities of historical interpretation and the delicate balance between faith, culture, and scientific inquiry in modern Indian society.


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