The film opens with the demon king Ravan (Niranjam Sharma) ordering his uncle Maricha to turn into a golden deer so as to distract Ram (Trilok Kapoor) from looking out for the safety of his wife Sita (Sona Chatterjee) while they are on their 14 year banishment in the jungle.
We next find Sita picking flowers in the jungle and singing the lively song “Daal Daal Kunj Kunj.”
Sita spots the golden deer and points it out to Ram and his brother Lakshman (Prabhash Joshi).
Hmmm… is she referring to the golden deer or to Trilok?
Ram sets off to obtain the animal and instructs Lakshman to stay and protect Sita, due to the fact that the forest is plum full of demons.
Ram chases after the animal and shoots it, only to find that it is Marich in disguise. Marich then impersonates Ram’s voice and calls out to Lakshman for help. Sita, fearing that Ram is in danger insists that Lakshman go and help her husband……
…and, against his better judgement, he obeys her, leaving Sita alone. However, before leaving he draws a line around their hut which will keep Sita safe, as long as she remains behind it.
With Lakshman and Ram out of the way, Ravan makes his move on Sita, but when he attempts to cross the line protecting his prey, it bursts into flame. Not being able to get to his victim, Ravan devises a plan to get Sita to come to him by taking on the disguise of a sage. He figures that Sita, being the kind person that she is, would never refuse alms to a holy man. And he is right!
Sita brings him a plate of food, crosses the line, and is quickly snatched by Ravan who flies her back to his land, Lanka, to make a bride of her.
Returning home, Ram and Lakshman are horrified to find Sita is missing!
They set out to find her.
……..and they look…
…and they search….
…..and they pet kitties…
…they walk off into the sunset…still searching for Sita….
…and, much to my enjoyment, they sing a song about searching, (unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the song on youtube, but it really is a nice one).
Sadly for Ram, it is just not the same singing around flowers and trees without your leading lady with you.
In the search for Ram’s beloved, the brothers come across an anklet and earing which Sita had dropped from the sky.
They then stumble upon Jatayu, king of the eagles, who lay dying. Jatayu tells the men that he tried to save Sita, but was no match for the demonic powers of Ravan.
Jatayu is played in awesome suitmation style, and one only wishes the battle between the big bird and Ravan would have been included in the screenplay. As it is, we only get to see this tiny glimpse of the creature, and that too when he is already near death. Of course, seeing as how Homi Wadia made a number of mythologicals over the years, it is very likely that this Jatayu suit appears in another of his films. One that hopefully features a Jatayu action sequence!
Meanwhile, on Rishyamukh mountain, the deposed monkey king, Sugriv (also played by Niranjam Sharma), is lamenting the torments of his brother Bali (Patel).
Along with this problem, Sugriv is also quite annoyed that his friend Hanuman has turned into a devotee of Ram, despite his having never even met the man-god, and that he is therefore never around to help stop Bali’s shenanigans because he spends all of his time sitting around doing pooja.
––why, Hanuman (S. N. Tripathi) is in another cave, singing the praises of Lord Ram.
After completing his song, Hanuman spots two men (Ram and Lakshman) traipsing through the underbrush, unknowingly being followed by a hideous one-eyed beastie, known as a Rakshasha.
The Rakshasha creature shows up in just about every movie that monkey god Hanuman is in, always to my great delight. Add this to the talking giant bird and the singing monkeys, and what is not to like!
The Rakshasha attacks the boys and Ram shoots it with an arrow, but the creature tosses Ram up into the air…
… before dying with a dramatic plunge off a cliff.
Hanuman, seeing what has happened, saves Ram and brings him back to earth.
The monkey is thrilled to find that the one he has just served is his very own hero, Ram!
The trio discover that the Rakshasha is named Kabandh, and with its death has released the celestial being Vishwa Vasu, who had been turned into the man-killing monster by a curse put upon him by Lord Brahama (to get the full story on this, refer to your copy of The Ramayana).
Now that they are BFFs, Hanuman takes Ram and Lakshman to meet King Sugriv, seeing as how they share similar difficulties. Meanwhile, Ravan arrives in Lanka with Sita in tow.
Greta over at Memsaabstory blog would surely call this a perfect “Nahiiin!” face.
His announcement that she is to be the new queen does not sit well with Mandodari (Leela Kumari), the current queen wife of Ravan.
Another stumbling block comes when Ravan learns that if he makes a woman his consort without her consent, he shall be torn into seven pieces.
Not being fond of that idea Ravan orders Sita held captive in Ashok Vatika garden.
Back to our heroes, Ram helps Sugriv defeat his evil ape brother Bali.
Monkey brother Bali.
As Bali lay dying from Ram’s arrow he questions why Ram befriended and helped Sugriv instead of helping himself find Sita first. Ram explains that Bali’s misbehavior with kidnaped womenfolk was a great sin, and one that Ram felt the need to rectify immediately. Bali understands and requests that Ram take his son Angada (Pandit Amarnath) under his wing.
With his kingdom back, Sugriv orders his army of monkeys to scour all of India in search of Sita. Hanuman himself is sent south, as that is where bird Jatayu had last seen Ravan heading. Ram gives Hanuman his ring so that if he should locate Sita she will know that the monkey is on the side of good.
Reaching the sea, Hanuman develops the power both to grow to gigantic proportions and to fly by chanting Ram’s name!
Off he goes to look for Sita, landing himself just outside the island of Lanka. Upon his arrival he is attacked by a flesh eating she-demon who guards Lanka.
When she tries to take a bite out of him, he bashes her in the head, an action which turns her into the beautiful Lankini, who then encourages him on his journey.
Arriving in Lanka, Hanuman is surprised to run across a man chanting Ram’s name. This man is Vibhishana (Shribhagwan), brother of Ravan, but devotee of Ram. Vibhishana tells Hanuman where to locate Sita.
Hanuman makes contact with Ram’s wife and shows her the ring, convincing her of his sincerity…
… then, to show his strength, the monkey begins to tear up the scenery…
…catching the attention of several demon warriors whom Hanuman handily defeats. Unfortunately, Hanuman is no match for the demon Meghnada (Dalpat), who shoots him with an arrow and then binds him with a large snake.
Brought to Ravan’s palace, Hanuman causes an uproar with his tail and is accused of being arrogant towards Ravan, who then orders the monkey’s appendage to be set ablaze.
Bad idea, Ravan. Hanuman uses his burning tale as a torch, setting fire to Lanka (another highlight of any Hanuman flick, and this film does the scene incredibly well!)
Hanuman then takes a message to Ram from Sita who indicates that if she is not rescued within a months time she will not longer be alive.
With no time to spare the monkeys, and one bear, set to building a bridge of floating rocks (the rocks float only when the name Ram has been inscribed upon them) so that Ram can reach Lanka and rescue his beloved. This is where my favorite song, yes, sung by the monkeys, and one bear, appears!
Will Sita live to see her warrior husband again?
Will Hanuman and crew have anough boulders to reach Lanka?
Will Ravan give up his to-be queen without a fight?
And just who is this peculiar gal?
To know all read The Ramayana, or see SHRI RAM BHAKTA HANUMAN!
Where Indian films are concerned the mythological genre is at the top of my list of faves! For a decidedly non-religious person such as myself, enjoying films based on Hindu holy stories might seem strange, but I have actually had lifelong love of devotional films such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, NOAH’S ARK, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, and anything with nuns in it.
So what is it that attracts this atheist to spiritual stories? Well, much of it is the “feel good” factor of watching characters triumph over evil through sacrifice, love, kindness, honesty, and generosity (which, by the way, are values not limited only to those who attend mosque, temple, or church, and which, frankly, are values far too often not even on the agenda of those who claim to be devout…oh, ok, enough of politics).
But these principles are only a part of the appeal of mythologicals. These films also contain a boatload of fantastical elements ranging from fancy dressed deities, characters with super-powers, flying monkey-men, strong female roles, evil demons, crude, yet endearing special effects, dancers like Helen, Bela Bose, and Laxxmi Chhaya, and plenty of familiar faces from the world of Bollywood B films—oh, and did I mention the flying monkey men? Basant Pictures’ SHRI RAM BHAKTA HANUMAN, directed by Homi Wadia, is a superbly entertaining example of this film genre.
Bajrangbali (1976) is an example of the thousands of mythologicals films made in India
Not only is the film tons of fun but the cast of SHRI RAM BHAKT HANUMAN is perfectly suited. you certainly can’t beat Trilok Kapoor as Shri Ram. The handsome Kapoor (half-brother of the great Prithviraj Kapoor), had been known for starring in emotional dramas or social films. But sometime in the mid-1940s he decided to take a chance, and he appeared in a few mythologicals. Evidently, this switch was well received, and he found himself cast as divine characters in dozens of religious productions over the next decade. Ram, Vishnu, Shiva, he played them all, and he looked good doing it. No doubt, though, he regretted this change as his career immediately dived head first into B film-dom and never recovered.
The lesser known Kapoor, Trilok Kapoor
While playing gods, Kapoor was often cast opposite the heavenly Nirupa Roy, but this time around he is coupled with the sweet Sona Chaterjee, a name familiar to fans of Homi Wadia and Basant Pictures. A busy actress during the 1940s, Chaterjee seemed to be ‘Heroine # 1’ for the studio’s output of stunt films and thrillers. While the athletic Fearless Nadia and/or John Cawas would provide the fear factor for most of these action oriented enchantments, it was often up to the delicate Sona to provide a romantic angle.
Sona also supplied leading lady duties in Basant Pictures ATOM BOMB.
As for the rest of the cast, there is Prabhash Joshi, a seemingly little known actor (and one I would love to learn more about) who looks the part of Laxman, Ram’s brother, but otherwise has little to do in the film. Niranjam Sharma seems to be having the time of his life in the dual roles of Ravan and Sugriv, but it is S. N. Tripathi (who also composed the music for the film) who is the real star here. Tripathi steals the show portraying Ram’s greatest devotee, the half monkey-half man Hanuman. With any number of sly glances and humorous facial expressions he is great fun to watch. Interestingly, Tripathi played the demon Ravan in Ranjit Movies’ JAI HANUMAN made that same year.
So, If you are looking for something a little different in your Bollywood viewing, I highly recommend that you dig into India’s mythological films. They are great fun, colorful (even when filmed in black and white), and an excellent opportunity to bring forth additional cultural awareness. Oh, and you get to see flying monkeys, too!