"Het Ram" would have stood out as a coherent statement and a dramatically integrated film if it had limited itself to the transmutation of an educated, Westernized archaeologist into a person haunted by a personal tragedy and sucked therefore into the vortex of revenge. There are sequences in the film that are outstanding in the repository of Indian political cinema. There is the depiction of the communal riot in Kolkata during which Saket Ram's first wife (played by Rani Mukherjee) is massacred, of Saket Ram's encounter and continuing dialogue with his new mentor, and his disturbing , tortuous transition into a would-be assassin.
Regrettably, this, the longer and predominant content of the film is set against a fleeting and rather inexplicable turnaround which is supposedly set off by the narrative device of the Gandhi figure. But why does Gandhi--or, rather the concept of Gandhi held in 1948 by the majority of the Indian people--prevail upon Saket Ram at the ostensible climax of his mission ? This is a question that the film raises but does not analyse or answer. In terms of narrative drama, for over two hours the film's protagonist moves convincingly down the anti-Gandhi path. The suddenly a generalization about the Gandhi of 1948 is thrown in and this is to be accepted as the pivot for the narrative's miraculous catharsis.
Kamal Haasan's " Hey Ram" ought to have eschewed the Gandhi character altogether. Or, It should have developed the Gandhi characterization wiith the fulness which would justify why one of Gandhi's would-be assassin turned finally into an absequious clone of the man he wanted to gun down.
Kamal Hassan is unable to do any better than prop up a cliched Gandhi as defined by jaded Gandhites. That, as modern Indian historians attest, and as Sir Richard Attenborough and John Briley's script so clearly delineates, was not the Gandhi who could inspire the greater number of the Indian masses participating in the freedom struggle. The Gandhi of the effete Gandhites, and of Kamal Hassan's script, could not have been the man capable of heading the freedom movement ! Kamal Hassan's screenplay uses some of Gandhi's political statement is isolation, without being able to elaborate or suggest Gandhi's motives or the thought processes involved in the taking up of his political stances during that frenzied era of the subcontinent's Partition and its Independence. Kamal Hassan's screenplay errs in not being one better than them, seeking out its own comprehension of the man. In twentieth-century indian history,