Kamal Haasan's body of works can be broadly divided into two categories- Hey Ram and non Hey Ram. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, and a film is worth a 1000 pictures. I say a movie like Hey Ram is worth a 1000 films. This film depicts the culture of India like no other, which ranges from traditional Iyengar, Bengali and Marathi to conventional British and Gandhian.
Not a single scene, line or character is wasted in this film. Being a period film, art direction becomes critical for description of the story. Right from the old Pears calendar in Birla House to the British cement advertisement in Calcutta, from the Tanjore paintings in Srirangam to the vehicles and instruments in the cities, not one object or concept is out of place! Many films fail here, including Lagaan which had 6 balls bowled per over instead of 9.
With an cast of India's finest actors Like Kamal Haasan, Naseeruddin Shah, Girish Karnad, Om Puri, Hema Malini, Rani Mukherjee, Atul Kulkarni and Shah Rukh Khan, one cannot complain about the performances. Perhaps the biggest asset to the film is its refusal to employ black and white characterization. Not one character in this epic is projected as an all good person and everyone has their own selfish reasons in life!