The so-called secularists may baulk at it. The Ministry of External Affairs is going to view presentations by leading filmmakers next week on the topic: “Ramayana – A Shared Culture in India and Southeast Asia”.

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The presentations may be held as early as just before Dussehra, immediately after the deadline for filing submissions ends on 19 October at 5.30 pm. The 26-minute film project is likely to be awarded to the best candidate by Diwali which falls on 11 November. This is the first time that the MEA is going to commission a film on Ramayana.

The film is likely to cost the MEA anywhere between RS. 40 to 50 lakh but it is no deterrent for the MEA.

The Narendra Modi government feels that Ramayana, the eternal battle between good and evil, holds a borderless appeal and carrying the message of the Ramayana to international audience is the need of the hour.

The MEA commissions films worth crores of rupees every year. Normally it stays away from religious topics and chooses subjects which give it heft for soft power projection or furthers national interests or promotes relations with friendly countries.

Three years ago, the UPA government had commissioned a film on Christian nun from Kerala Saint Alphonso. However, earlier this year when MPs from Kerala wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for commissioning second part of the film, she turned down the proposal.

But the Ramayana is a different ball game, even though it may lead to demands for commissioning films on scriptures of other religions as well.

Going by the vast appeal of Ramayana in Southeast Asian countries, most of which are either Buddhist or Muslim dominated, the Modi government’s decision to make a film on this timeless epic is not only understandable but laudable too.

If out of ten nations of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) at least seven nations — Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia –have received the influence of Hindu culture since the early days of Indian contacts, it is largely because of the influence of Ramayana.

Consider the following little known facts.

*The capital of early Thailand was called Ayutthaya, named after Lord Ram’s capital of Ayodhya. Another ancient city in Thailand is Lavpuri, named after Ram’s son Lav.

*The Royal king in Thailand is called ‘Bhumipal Athulyatej, Rama IX’.

*The country Laos is named after Ram’s son Lav.

*Thai kick boxing which is based on the military skills of Bali and Sugreeva, famous characters of Ramayana, is now an event in International Olympics.

*Ministers in Malaysia take oath of office in the name of Lord Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’ and the agong or royal president takes oath of office in the name of the dust of Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka Dhuli’, as the Malaysians consider the dust of Ram’s ‘paduka’ or footwear holier than the Paduka itself.

*One may find it strange but it is true that even if a mosque has to be built in Malaysia, the government orders are issued in the name of ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’.

*Predominantly Muslim countries in Southeast Asia like Brunei and Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation,  take pride in saying ‘Islam is our Religion but Ramayana is our Culture’.

*The Southeast Asian Games in 1997 used Hanuman as its mascot.

Link – 

Ramayana on the silver screen: MEA set to commission a film on the epic before Diwali