Is Indian Mythology an inspiration for Hollywood?

Valmiki’s Ramayana is unarguably the epic poem more popular than Homer’s Illiad. The Indian scriptures like Mahabharata, Garuda Puran, Shiva Puran, and Vishnu Puran are filled with so many inspiring stories of heroes like Krishna, Nandi, Kartikeya, Pradyumna, Bhima, Arjuna that even one lifetime will not be enough to complete reading it. If the pages of Greek mythology are filled with glories of Zeus, Thor, Hercules and Achilles, then our Indian mythology has uplifting stories of Lord Hanumana lifting a mountain on his hand to rescue Rama’s brother Lakshmana.

avatar movie

The 2009 motion picture – Avatar directed by James Cameron is highly influenced by Indian Mythology. The word ‘Avatar’ is of Hindu origin where Gods had to incarnate on earth in various forms to fight demons and vanquish evil. The Indian scriptures were a helpful inspiration for Cameron to pen down the script of Avatar. Even the character of movie Avatar is inspired by Lord Vishnu and Shiva. The avatar program in the movie is a high tech form of the mythological concept ‘Avatar’.The movie was not only a successful Sci-fi movie on box-office, but also a topic to discuss and research whether it is possible to create such humanoids in near future.


The Hollywood movie – Matrix starring Keanu Reeves was based on concept of Maya (illusion). The Indian Gods had the divine power to create ‘Maya’ – an illusion to lure away the demons. According to Indian scriptures, this whole world is an illusion. When Keanu Reeves gets shot down by Agent Smith in Matrix, he assumes it to be real and dies. But later he regains consciousness only to realize that the entire matrix system is an illusion. This Maya concept was beautifully presented in movie ‘Matrix’ where the illusionary world is more real than the actual world.

The term ‘Mutant’ became popular through movie X-Men. But is this theory new to the world or did it exist even in Indian mythology. The mythological heroes like Nandi, Narsimha, Garuda, Hanuman, and Varaha possessed super human powers to outwit their foes. Their forms were intriguing so were their powers. So does the concept of mutants’ dates back to mythological times? Did the X-men or mutants exist even in times of Tretayuga and Dwaparyuga? The reality is yet to be unraveled.


Wright Brothers were the first inventors of airplane and had successfully flown the first plane on December 17, 1903. But there was an Indian who actually invented and flown a plane in 1895. The inventor was Shivkar Bapuji Talpade. The concept of airplane or flying machine is originated from Pushpak Vimana. The flying chariots shown in fantasy movies are the evidence that flying machines did exist in Mythological times. Even the flying hero ‘Superman’ or man of steel is highly inspired by the mythical gods – Hanumana, Garuda who had super human power to fly in the sky. Even one of the mutants in X-men is modeled on ‘Garuda’.

The 2011 superhero movie – Thor was highly inspired by mythology where Thor forgets his power due to his arrogance. It was bit similar to the Ramayana’s hero ‘Hanumana’ who forgot his power due to curse and realized his power when Jambavan gave him the knowledge of his super powers.

Brad Pitt as Achilles in movie Troy
Brad Pitt as Achilles in movie Troy

The Hollywood movie – Troy which was based on Homer’s Illiad had Brad Pitt playing the role of brave warrior Achilles. Achilles was bathed in divine waters by his mother to make him immortal but his heel was left untouched by the divine water. In the Trojan War, it was the heel that claimed the life of Achilles. Even in Mahabharata, Duryodhana the kuru prince had gained immortality due to the powerful rays emitted from the eyes of his mother Gandhari. But his covered thighs left untouched by divine rays. Bhima killed the cruel Duryodhana by breaking his thighs with mace. Isn’t it a striking coincidence that two epic characters from different worlds met with same fate! As Draupadi’s mock on Duryodhana triggered the war between pandavas and kauravas, Helen’s affair with Paris gave birth to Trojan War.

There are lots of stories in mythology which are still unknown to people and with time, every story will unfold slowly to the world and no wonder Hollywood will be the first to present the story to movie viewers.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Zoeb says:

    Excellent write-up…there is indeed a wealth of material in Indian mythology and yes, Cameron was asked the same thing too when he came for the India Today Conclave in 2010- whether he had taken ideas from Indian myths for creating the characters and world of ‘Avatar’.

    Good, thought-provoking write-up.

  2. Kamlesh Vyas says:

    Good article

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