Film Review: Hanuman Returns

Film: Hanuman Returns


Director: Anurag Kashyap


Producer: Percept Picture Company


Genre: Animation


Rating : 7/10


Move aside Superman, Spiderman, Batman even Krrish. A home-grown super-hero is here, stuff of which legends are made. Our saviour is back.


Yes, Hanuman has returned to Kalyuga with the same face, tail and heart of gold. This time in a much younger form. But does age matter to God?


It doesn’t and it doesn’t matter to the audience either. It doesn’t because Director Anurag Kashyap spins a tale of fantasy, fact and fiction mixing realities of all worlds with a smartness and verve that only he is capable of. His third directorial venture (fourth, if you count ‘Paanch’), Return of Hanuman, holds no allegiance to the dark thematic and narrative overtones that are almost a given in Kashyap films by now. Kashyap weaves a seemingly simplistic tale of good vs evil with his quintessential style of layers, symbols, messages, references enough to delight all sections of the viewing public.


The movie is not only Kashyap’s take on perceived symbols of mythology but also is a comment on outcomes of modern-day lifestyles, loud and clear. While the former adds amused hilarity to the fabric of the film, the latter makes for a conspicuous fore-ground veering towards preachy but stopping just in time. One more victory for the film.


Return of Hanuman is a seemingly simple children’s film but it relies on a plot that is not only taut with complexities but peppered with twists and turns that could remind one of a Manmohan Desai film. The film is rich in content, references, images and the experience it provides. It borrows its symbols, images, gags from everywhere-modern-day lifesyles, films and film stars, myths, pop culture etc and achieves a texture that is a pleasure to feel and delve in.


It is the triumph of the screenplay that the film sails point to point without insulting it’s child audience’s intelligence or the sensibilities of its adult audience! It entices itself to the former by the simplicity of the child-God and his human friends and captures the latter’s imagination by superb gleeful anachronisms. The world it creates is a simple world of childhood fraught with problems of surviving bullies, finding acceptance etc. This young world is the epicenter of a world much-older, much-experienced and much-lived world which, having ‘evolved’ through the ages has now put itself on grave danger of extinction by its mindless ways. The combination of two agendas and creating value in both worlds for both its audiences is another victory the film can take a bow for.


That animation in India needs to take a giant leap of improvement, this film makes crystal clear. Frames have a distinct comic-book feel that all of us have grown up with. But that does not make for a nostalgia-flavoured trip because it is sheer necessity and not creative license that make them look the way they do. The success of Indo-made and produced films like Bal Ganesha and Hanuman (and hopefully Return of Hanuman) leaves one fervently hoping for mainstream budgets to flow in animation too. Not incompetent, it moderately resurrects a Tinkle-world for us but it lacks a panache and expanse to go beyond.


Return of Hanuman is a pacy film and some taut, crisp editing ensures it maintains the right speed except the climax, which could have been tighter. The film holds multitudes of images and hordes of in-sequences and in-shots to deal with. A tight, well-written screenplay and fine editing successfully keep the momentum of the film in between hurried and tepid.


If the film has a hero besides the child-God, it is the music. Earthy, foot-tapping and energetic tunes keep up the flow and sensibility of the film which is Indian in its chords but global in its beats. No pretentious Indi-rock, fusion, or shastriya sangeet or even folk music here. The music is as original and faithful to its world as it can get.


The film has nothing original about it. The characters, concepts, references, sub-plots are tried and tested. Hence, it is interesting to observe how an uncanny sequencing of clichéd concepts and characters can be as appealing as viewing something fresh. The film does a lot to entertainment by giving tongue-in-cheek humour leverage by lampooning pop culture a-la OSO and going beyond accepted norms of story-telling.


The story of Return of Hanuman may be about a God buried in legends of ancient India. It may be set in a small village alien to most educated, urban viewers. But at its core lies the roots from whence we all have sprung. The movie, while keeping us rooted in today, takes us back to those roots. It is a pleasant experience indeed.