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Thread: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

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    Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    I was thinking about how I have never seen of or heard of any movie made in the west adapted from any of the Hindu epics or stories. Any particular reason why not? I would love to see the stories brought to life as long as they weren't exploitations, didn't mangle the stories and did it respectfully.

    We have no shortage of movies about the Greek gods and heroes (Clash of the Titans; 300; Jason and the Argonauts; Hercules); Norse and Anglo-Saxon stories (Beowulf; Thor; King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table); not to mention a never-ending supply of biblical epics.

    If a Hollywood filmaker decided to make a film adaptation of the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, or portions of a Purana, for example, does anyone think it could be done tastefully and respectfully, and as true to the epic(s) as possible, with the technical assistance of Hindu scholars, of course?

    There was an episode of Xena, Warrior Princess called The Way, set in India. Sri Krishna and Sri Hanuman figured prominently. If I remember it correctly part of it involved Sri Krishna giving advice to Xena on her dharma, similar as He did with Arjuna. Xena battled a demon who defeated her, but she was incarnated as Maa Kali, who then defeated the demon. There were mixed feelings and reviews from the Hindu community about it. I wonder how a movie adaptation would be received.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Namast TouchedbytheLord,

    Maybe this is your calling; time for a screenplay adaptation?
    I should be interested to hear what you thought of the film Avatar?

    praNAma

    mana

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Hello TouchedbytheLord,


    There was actually a western play and film adaption of the Mahabharata by Peter Brooks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mah...ta_(1989_film)

    The film featured a mostly non-Indian cast of actors which often came across as being clunky due to the large varieties of conflicting accents being spoken in english. Also, despite its large length (about 5 hours long), it does come across as being rather low budget and small in scale. It would be nice, however, to see a truly large scale adaption deserving of the source material.




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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Yeah, I think we had a discussion about this awhile ago.

    Actually there are a lot of Indian-made movies about Hindu epics. Once when I was on an observing shift, one of my friends from another university, who's from India, was there. When we weren't actually working, we spent the time watching the Mahabharata movie on YouTube. I actually got through a considerable part of it.

    It's a fun diversion and all. But the problem with Indian movies is that Indians are horrible at it. I don't know, maybe it's just that we're more left-brained in general. Or maybe it's just that cinema is an essentially Western art form. But I don't think that Indian renditions of the Hindu epics do them any justice. It would be most interesting to see a Hollywood take on this.

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Namaste all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mana View Post
    Namast TouchedbytheLord,

    Maybe this is your calling; time for a screenplay adaptation?
    I should be interested to hear what you thought of the film Avatar?

    praNAma

    mana
    I thought Avatar was pretty good, though I'm not wild about the word 'avatar' being thrown around as fast and loose as it is. It's amazing what can be done with digital effects now. Look at The Lord of the Rings, and that was > 10 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ananda View Post
    Hello TouchedbytheLord,


    There was actually a western play and film adaption of the Mahabharata by Peter Brooks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mah...ta_(1989_film)

    The film featured a mostly non-Indian cast of actors which often came across as being clunky due to the large varieties of conflicting accents being spoken in english. Also, despite its large length (about 5 hours long), it does come across as being rather low budget and small in scale. It would be nice, however, to see a truly large scale adaption deserving of the source material.



    I'll read up on it. Thanks for the link.

    It's a shame that it came across that cheesy. Now accents are taught by coaches. If you watch Law & Order, Mike Cutter the Asst. DA is Linus Roache who is English. He does a great accent (sounds New Jersey).

    Brad Dourif was so good at his accent as Grima in LotR, that Bernard Hill (Theoden) asked Dourif what part of England he was from. Hill was completely blown away when Dourif said he was American.

    With make up, digital effects and voice coaching, I'll bet a re-make would be superb.

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjaya View Post
    But I don't think that Indian renditions of the Hindu epics do them any justice. It would be most interesting to see a Hollywood take on this.
    Yes, that's my point. I know the Indian cinema industry cranks out movies even faster than Hollywood. I hear they are usually beyond cheesy, sort of in the same category as western Grade B "bug eyed monster" movies. I could be wrong on that, though.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Namaste all.

    I found this series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHYcj...feature=relmfu This is episode 74. I can't believe the quality of the video. I hope I can find the series on dvd. I'm not sure if they are using Sanskrit or Hindi (I suspect Hindi because it was a TV series?), but amazement of amazements, I could pick out a few words (while the subtitles displayed, of course) and how they were inflected.

    At 22:50 Krishna gives Arjuna divine vision to see Krishna's Universal Form, and at 24:00 begins to show His Universal Form. I got goosebumps!
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Traditionally, the stories from the itihasas and puranas have always been casted out in theatrical form, even before the Greeks who are credited by eurocentric imbiciles to have invented almost everything. The Natya Shastra of sage Bharata deals with the performing arts like theatre, dance and music. This wisdom was imparted by lord Shiva to humanity through the sound of the damaru and the tandava dance which was witnessed by the rishis and devas. The display of leela was done with religious reverence. The disastrous display of the Ramayana in "Sita sings the blues" was caused by Nina Paley's attempt to blend greco-dramatic elements (i.e. whining and bitching) into the sacred lore of ancient India. In the early days, Hindu religious movies were more like filmed theatre. People would go to the cinema and remove their shoes at the doors before sitting down and taking part of this event just like a form of satsang. One of the most excellent productions of bhakti films in my opinion was that of Bhakta Prahlada in Telugu which was also dubbed in other Indian languages. Also, the production of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have brought many people closer to the Hindu cultural heritage. Of course, watching movies is not enough to fully understand the epics, one needs to read them thoroughly over and over again or listen to their recitation. Unfortunately, the newer productions of the sacred stories of our devatas, ancient rishis and forefathers are being produced in the most infantile manner. I am not against the use of modern technology, but in this day of instant entertainment, the religious elements are being swapped for flashing animations. If this goes on, the next generation will not be able to tell the diference between the Ramayana, Mahabharata or The Smurfs.
    Last edited by Sahasranama; 19 September 2011 at 03:00 PM.

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    .....Greeks who are credited by eurocentric imbiciles to have invented almost everything.....
    Welcome back Sahas

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Although theater and drama existed for millenia in India, modern movies with special effects and graphics based on Hindu lore are sorely lacking.

    There are a few animated films that came out but they were almost always targeted towards children.

    1.) Ramayana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs03zXUUURs
    2.) Arjun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-EezcpFzVI

    A Mahabharat or Ramayana movie with graphics like Avatar would be a miracle. The problem is that the budgets needed for such large scale productions are hardly there in India and those who have such funds are busy funding their palaces and private jets and don't care too much for the welfare of Hindus; at least so it seems.

    The other things is that if the movies were made authentically (in Sanskrit), there would need to be subtitles and that would mean many people who can't read can't watch the movie. So it would have to be made in all the local languages. It is a gargantuan task but well worth it.

    I will make these movies one day.

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    Re: Movies based on the Hindu epics and stories?

    Namasté,

    Some excellent points already made. I'll add a few more thoughts.

    Unless a filmmaker is crafting an abstract or surrealist film, there are generally three elements that allow the audience to believe in the story being told: convincing settings, skilled performances, and a tight storyline. Any film based on the Hindu epics and stories faces challenges with all three.

    There are different versions of some stories, and their interpretation may differ according to the beliefs of each person. Intensive research is needed to sift through the copious literature and decide which texts to use, how to interpret them, and which parts, if any, must be omitted or shortened for the sake of time. To give an example, my favourite serial was nine years of research in the making, according to interviews. I can't imagine, say, the Transformers movie with that sort of time frame. I also can't imagine a Western studio willing to put in that sort of time or even able to find enough scholars/experts who are both interested in a Hollywood film of the story and willing to work hard in support of the result.

    The elabourate film versions of traditional jewellery, costumes, and settings, which are usually royal or divine in these tales, are incredibly lavish and expected to be so. (I stopped an Indian DVD once, just for fun, and started counting the rows of beadwork on a single character's costume. I stopped at thirty-four only because I was impatient to resume the story.) Even with the cheapest paste materials, all of that fanciful decoration needs people to create and organise, and I can only imagine the artistry required for even the simplest set. There is also the need for special effects - a requirement in the epics and stories full of fantastic events. So, again, more research, into history, clothing, and setting, and appearance presents another multifaceted problem.

    And then there's the acting. Sahasranama points out that the performing arts are very ancient in India, and music, dance, and song are all expected to be high-quality in Indian films, sometimes harshly criticised if lacklustre. That means attracting gifted artists to participate, who must be convincing on multiple levels, and who in Hollywood will be willing to search for performers fluent in Indian languages and trained in Indian arts, when many thousands of Western actors are beating down their doors for jobs?

    Anyway, all of these factors require money, and where does a filmmaker cut costs? My own instinct would be to focus on the performances foremost, since even the most visually-stunning movie is just pitiful if the characters act like animated planks of wood. Yet it would be wonderful to see a Hindu film full of cutting-edge effects, too, and TatTvamAsi makes a good point - that the really excellent stuff in India often suffers from lack of budget. And Hollywood these days is a money machine with huge profits to be made. There would be few filmmakers willing to tackle the epics, I think, and take the time and trouble to truly understand the tales and produce something beautiful and profound instead of a flat summer blockbuster.

    Indraneela
    ===
    Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
    Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.
    Last edited by Arjuni; 21 September 2011 at 12:46 AM. Reason: Edited because apparently I don't read original questions well. >:P

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