It has been nearly three decades since Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Ram came and not one retelling of the Ramayana for children, or in the performing arts, has been able to match this one. The film retells the story of Ramayana and Lord Rama. It was shown on Cartoon Network back in the 1990s and exists on YouTube even today. Kids growing up in the 1990s still go back to it.
The film is a great starting point for young kids to understand the classicism involved in depicting Ramayana and Ram’s story. For adults, it is a great beginning to go back to the text. The movie is a straight-up chronological retelling, without any commentary or exploration of the epic’s themes .
The idea of the film came to Japanese director Yugo Sako when he was working on the documentary The Ramayana Relics in 1983. That made him realize a live action film could not do justice to the mythological tale, Sako decided to take the animation route and collaborated with legendary Indian animator Ram Mohan.
The Hindu fundamentalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad protested the depiction of gods and goddesses as cartoon figures, forcing the film to be completed in Japan. The fact that the movie was being made at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which culminated in the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, further finished its chances of release in India.
Things got better and India made peace with animated versions of Ramayan, but it was too late for Sako’s version. The songs in the Hindi dub were sung by big Bollywood singers like Kavita Krishnamurthy sung Sumiran Karle Mannwa, Udit Narayan’s Janani Main Rama Doot Hanuman and many others.
Had it been released in India with no controversy, it would have created history.