Manoj Muntashir on ‘Adipurush’ row: The look of the deities is not completely seen in the teaser, the material used for Hanuman’s costume is canvas – Exclusive | Hindi Movie News

Om Raut’s mythological drama ‘Adipurush’ is in the eye of storm as a section of the audience has taken offence to the depiction of Hindu deities in the teaser that released last week. Amidst calls for boycott, the makers have received notices and a plea has also been filed seeking injunction on the release of the film. Speaking to ETimes, the film’s dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir defends the film saying, “The look of the deities has not been seen completely. A 95-second trailer is not enough to portray what we wanted to portray. Hanuman Ji is not wearing leather costumes. How can someone who is a Sanatani, someone who believes in the ethos of Hinduism, can be a part of a film which makes my Bajrangbali, my Hanuman Ji wear leather? It has not happened. The material used for Hanuman Ji costumes is canvas. The color may look like it is leather. But it is certainly not leather.”

Adipurush is not the only film to have hurt religious sentiments in recent times. Ajay Devgn, Sidharth Malhotra’s ‘Thank God’ and Leena Manimekalai’s ‘Kaali’ are the latest ones to have faced the flak for taking creative liberties. Clarifying their stance that ‘Adipurush’ was made out of respect and reverence to Lord Rama, Muntashir says, “‘Kaali’ was a wrong portrayal of our highly revered goddess Kaali. I criticise it and I feel ashamed of belonging to a fraternity where the makers of ‘Kaali’ share a space with me. I or the makers of ‘Adipurush’ definitely do not fall into that bracket. We are firm believers of Lord Shri Ram. We love him, we adore him, we learn from him, and we have highest regards for him. ‘Kaali’ was a different case scenario. I haven’t seen the film but I’ve seen the poster. It was definitely designed to hurt sentiments. There was no
bhakti, shraddha, or emotion in it. It was waste and highly offensive. And as Hindus or Indians, if we have taken offence to that poster then we’re right in doing so. I also took offence. But ‘Adipurush’ and ‘Kaali’ (the films) are like north pole and south pole. They don’t even meet at a common juncture. We’re making a film out of respect and reverence to Lord Rama. We’re making a film to portray Lord Rama and his character which is higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans. We want that character to reach out to younger audience who are fans of Marvel and DC movies. We want to tell the pious story of Lord Rama in a language that youngsters understand. And by language I mean the visual language, the visual depiction of that story.”

Indians have grown up watching Ramanand Sagar’s version of Ramayan that release over 30 years ago. Muntashir says he holds Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’ in high respect. “He used the visuals and graphics which were really advance for 1987. They used the graphics which were available to them and we’re using graphics which are available to us. It’s as simple as that. Using the graphics and technology is completely acceptable and this is how the story should be told. We should not be lagging behind the world,” he adds.

Muntashir further states that they have not tampered with the storyline and that every filmmaker will come up with their own creative visualisation. “No damage has been done,” he says. “We’re listening. Our director Om Raut clearly said that we’re open to the suggestions coming from the people but based on 95 seconds of a film, a film which might go to the length of two and a half hours or maybe more, cannot be judged based on a 95-second teaser. I have firm faith that not many corrections would be needed once the film is shown to the public. What message went after the teaser? What did you understand from the teaser? That there’s a demon called Ravana who has abducted Maa Sita and Lord Rama attacks him in order to free Maa Sita. He takes help of Hanuman Ji, Sugreev, and Vanarsena. That message has been conveyed in the teaser. If there’s anything wrong in the storyline, the ethos of Ramayana then we stand guilty. But if all of this is correct and in line and there are questions about the visual representation then we have to understand that every filmmaker will come up with some creative visualization, that kind of liberty must be given to the filmmaker, but at the same time we have ensured that we don’t cross our lines. So, you won’t see anything radically different from what you’ve imagined. There was a question that why is Hanuman Ji is not wearing Kundal, so maybe it was not visible in teaser, if you zoom you’ll clearly see that Hanuman Ji is wearing Kundals. So, we have not tampered with the basic story, ethos or the messaging of Ramayana at all. We have not deviated one inch from the actual story. We stand true to the Ramayana as written by Maharishi Valmiki and as rewritten by Goswami Tulsidas Ji.”

Muntashir emphasises that Ramayan is our history and like many other artistes have maintained in recent past, it should not be considered as mythology. “The story of Lord Rama is definitely history. It is not mythology by any yardstick or any stretch of imagination. And I don’t agree with those people who term Ramayan as mythology. I have strong conflicts with them. It is something that is not acceptable. Ramayan, Ramcharitmanas is history. This actually happened 7400 years ago. The greatest scientist of our time, our ex-president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has proved on a software which is called Taramandal that Lord Ram clearly existed. And whatever Valmiki Ji has written in Valmiki Ramayan has really happened. He has proved that on the basis of calculations on a software. So, there’s no question left whether Lord Ram really exist. Yes, he did. He is the greatest part of our history,” he states.

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