Hindus have urged the Viacom and its brand Paramount Pictures to post a study- guide about Hinduism and guru tradition on their websites and place it in movie theaters worldwide to undo the damage done by their upcoming Hollywood movie "The Love Guru".
Advancing the movement launched by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed; Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, in a communiqué to Paramount Pictures today, mentioned the protests spearheaded by Zed and supported by the Hindu and spiritual community worldwide, and added, "…We also feel that the parody on Gurus will contribute to the misunderstanding about the sacred concept of the ‘Guru’…"
Shinde urged Viacom and Paramount to immediately issue a study guide about Hinduism and the sacred tradition/role of the ‘Guru’ confirming to Hindu scriptures, post it on the official websites of Viacom and Paramount and ‘The Love Guru’, and make it available free of cost in printed form at the movie theaters worldwide.
She further said, "This guide should also offer the viewers a framework in which to see the film, so that the viewers do not carry any misconceptions about Hinduism and that the characters portrayed in this movie are in no way depicting authentic Gurus from the Hindu and spiritual tradition."
On the other hand, Hindu groups have recently been approaching film distributors associations, exhibitors groups, regulatory bodies, government ministries, theater owners, etc., in various parts of the world urging them not to distribute/screen "The Love Guru" till its presenter Paramount Pictures makes necessary changes to it "so that it will not hurt the feelings of the worldwide spiritual and Hindu community."
"…If the trailer is an indicator of the content of the movie…then we feel that this movie is most likely to hurt the sentiments of seekers from various spiritual paths…it will hurt the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide, who hold the ‘Guru-disciple’ relationship as sacred…we are supporting Rajan Zed’s protest against the denigration…Poking fun is one thing, but if it creates a sense of belittling other’s faith, then it is wrong," one such communiqué sent said.
Meanwhile, furthering the drive pioneered by Indo-American leader Rajan Zed, various organizations and leaders have been coming out expressing concern about the possibility of "The Love Guru" hurting the sentiments of Hindus worldwide and urging filmmakers to be more responsible when handling faith related subjects. Zed has been saying that from the information available about the movie, it appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously. Various Hindu, Catholic, Presbyterian, Jewish, Native American, Methodist, Buddhist, youth, film, spiritual/religious, music, yoga, civil rights, etc., leaders have already issued statements in support of this cause espoused by Rajan Zed.
G. Kendrick Macdowell, Vice President of the National Association of Theatre Owners, largest exhibition trade organization in the world, replying to a request sent by Hindu groups, wrote, "I am sympathetic to your concern as I have been to the ashrams in India and know a little bit about the guru-disciple relationship. I have not seen the trailer or the movie, but I can guess that it satirizes ‘gurus on the make’. I doubt I would find it funny. Nevertheless, we are not in a position to take action you recommend …we are a trade association, and we cannot interfere with the decisions of our members regarding what movies or trailers to play…"
Ilona Cheshire, Press Officer of prestigious British Film Institute (BFI), wrote in her reply, "Please rest assured that the BFI will not be screening this title nor will be involved with a possible release of it." J.L. Green, Chief Assistant (Policy) to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), replying the communiqué, said, "The BBFC is sympathetic to your concerns. However, THE LOVE GURU has not been submitted to the BBFC for classification…".
Primitivo Rodriguez-Gordillo, President of Spain based Sociedad de Empresarios de Cine de España (SECIES), informed that the letter sent by Hindu groups was distributed among their members and "we hope their act conveniently".
A prominent Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada (USA), has called for boycott of "The Love Guru" because it "…lampoons Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy…" and asking "who laughs at religious practices".
Paramount Pictures, through its Senior Vice President National Publicity, Jessica Rovins, has earlier stated, "It is our full intention to screen the film for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders in the U.S. once we have a finished print."
It may be recalled here that advance screenings of Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ" were held for clergy and others.
"The Love Guru"; a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame, who is also the co-writer and co-producer), Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley; and directed by Marco Schnabel; is set to release on June 20 next. In it Myers, an American, raised in an ashram in India, moves back to US as Guru Pitka to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion followers. Moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.
Viacom is a leading global entertainment content company and its family of brands includes MTV, Paramount, DeamWorks, etc. Paramount Pictures Corporation is a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.