The mythology and culture of India are quite rich and full of interesting stories. Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata have been told and retold through various mediums such as books, TV serials, and movies. Here we have created a list of five Bollywood movies that were direct adaptations of stories from Indian mythology or modern take set in contemporary times.
- Jai Santoshi Maa (1975)
Jai Santoshi Maa was released in 1975 and is one of the biggest hits of Indian cinema ever. Made with a small budget with unknown actors, unexpectedly became one of the biggest hits of 1975 which saw other blockbuster movies such as Sholay and Deewar. The hysteria Jai Santoshi Maa created was unprecedented as theatres turned into temples where audiences entered barefooted and even threw notes and other offerings whenever Santoshi Maa appeared on the screen. The movie had low production value that seemed on screen but the script of the movie which was based on a ‘vrat katha’ was very good which attracted audiences towards it.
- Kalyug (1981)
Kalyug directed by Shyam Benegal and produced by Shashi Kapoor was a modern take on the story of Mahabharata set in the corporate world. The movie starred known names such as Shashi Kapoor himself whose character was inspired by Karna, Rekha (Draupadi), Raj Babbar (Yudhistir), Anant Nag (Arjun), Victor Banerjee (Duryodhana), Kulbhusan Kharbanda ( Bhim) and A.K Hangal (Bhisma). The movie did decent business at the box office and went on to win Filmfare Best Movie Award that year. It’s considered one of the best adaptations of Mahabharata in Bollywood.
- Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama was an animated movie made in collaboration between India and Japan. Directed by Japanese filmmaker Yugo Saki, it’s considered one of the best adaptations of the Indian epic Ramayana and became an instant classic. The animation of the movie was top-notch with a great screenplay that perfectly presented the story of Ramayana to the audience. Famous names like Arun Govil, Amrish Puri, Shatrughan Sinha, and Rahul Bose lent their voices to the movie.
- Raavan (2010)
Raavan was a Hindi-Tamil bilingual movie directed by Mani Ratnam and it was inspired by the great Indian epic Ramayana but it was set in the modern era. Chiyaan Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, and Prithviraj featured in the Tamil movie named Raavanan, and in the Hindi version Abhishek Bachchan, Chiyaan Vikram, and Aishwarya played the lead roles. The story of the movie revolves around a dacoit Beera who kidnaps the wife of a police officer. In the Tamil version, Chiyaan Vikram’s character was inspired by Raavan, whereas the characters of Aishwarya Rai and Prithviraj were inspired by Sita and Lord Ram respectively. In the Hindi version, Abhishek Bachchan played the character of Beera inspired by Raavan, Aishwarya Rai’s character was the same as in the Tamil version as Sita, and Chiyaan Vikram played the role of her husband, and the police officer which was inspired by Lord Ram.
- Rajneeti (2010)
Rajneeti was directed by Prakash Jha who earlier made movies like Gangajal, Apaharan, etc. Rajnneti was a modern-day adaptation of the Indian epic, Mahabharata, which showed rivalry among brothers in the field of politics. It had an ensemble cast including Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn, Arjun Rampal, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai, and Naseeruddin Shah. The movie shows how family members can turn rivals for power and go to any extent to get it. Every character in the movie had grey shades with powerful performances by everyone especially Manoj Bajpai whose character was inspired by Duryodhana and Nana Patekar whose character Brijmohan was inspired by Lord Krishna. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 2010.