Tue, Jul 08, 2008
Hindu groups not happy with "The Love Guru" rating given by Singapore Censors

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu leader, who spearheaded the protests against this movie starting in March, has reissued his call of Singapore-wide boycott of this movie because it lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously.

Advancing Rajan Zed's cause further; Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, has appealed to Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA) to assign "The Love Guru" its highest "R21" (Restricted 21) rating instead of currently held "NC 16", saying - 'The Love Guru' blatantly ridicules and denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts".

In a communique to Singapore MDA, Shinde wrote, "Cinema is a powerful medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences, especially in the minds of younger audiences, who are passing through an impressionable phase. We do not want the next generation of Singapore growing up with a distorted view of Hinduism and Hindus."

Meanwhile, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha have also issued a Singapore-wide boycott call for 'The Love Guru' by Hindus and other spiritual people.

Hindus argue that the "The Passion of the Christ" was given a "M18" rating (higher than what "The Love Guru" presently has) in Singapore in 2004 when the official classification media release said, "The film did not distort or denigrate Christianity." On the other hand, "The Love Guru" blatantly ridicules Hinduism and Hindu concepts, so it deserves "R21" rating.

One of the functions of Singapore MDA, formed in 2003, is to "manage content to protect core values and safeguard consumers' interests. "NC16" rated films are suitable for 16 and above, while "R21" films are suitable for aged 21 and above. "The Love Guru" is reportedly scheduled to be released in Singapore on September four.

Zed has urged other people of faith (besides Hindus) in Singapore also to boycott the movie, saying, "Today it is Hinduism, tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to denigrate another religion/denomination."

The antics of Guru Pitka of "The Love Guru" are a mockery of the esteemed institution of guru, who is a highly revered spiritual teacher/master/preceptor in Hinduism and who helps remove the ignorance of the seeker and who leads one from darkness to light. The guru-sishya (teacher-disciple) relationship lies at the heart of traditional Hinduism. Guru is often allied with the divine. Guru bestows spiritual knowledge totally free from selfish objectives, Zed stresses.

On the other hand, guru in "The Love Guru" instigates a bar fight, repeatedly narrates penis jokes, mocks yoga (one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy), wears female jewelry, mocks the concept of third eye, makes disciple drink tea passed through his nose, orders alligator soup, induces elephant copulation in front of the crowd, introduces himself as "His Holiness", lives in a lavish ashram staffed with scantily clad maids, and whose goal in life seems to appear on Oprah Winfrey show, Zed says.

When did Hindu gurus become available 'for hire'? When and who started rating them? When did shishyas (disciples) started joining ashram for the sole purpose to make girls like them? Which Hindu ashram organizes fights of disciples with mops soaked in guru's urine? Which guru urinates in the midst of disciples? Rajan Zed asks.

This is pure and blatant ridiculing and presenter of the movie Paramount Pictures and its parent Viacom should immediately issue a general public apology, Zed says.

A prominent Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada (USA), has also called for boycott of "The Love Guru" because it - "lampoons Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy".

Hindus are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Filmmakers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as cinema is a very powerful medium, Zed argues.

Of course a small movie, which will be forgotten in few months, would not destroy the great tradition of Hinduism which has been around longer than any other established religion and has faced lot of onslaughts and came out stronger. But Hinduism is often misunderstood and wrongly portrayed outside India. Movies like this bring more confusion and create stereotypes in the minds of audience, many of whom may not have had any other exposure to its tenets, Zed stresses.

Humor is a part and parcel of Hindu society and our folk festivals, plays, stories, etc., are full of parody, satire, mimicry, buffoonery, etc. We are strong enough to take jokes. But there are certain convictions in every tradition, which are venerable and not meant to be mocked at, Zed argues.

People associated with the film claim that it has nothing to do with Hinduism and portrays "completely made up system of teachings". But terms such as guru, ashram, yoga, karma, etc., --all clearly point to Hinduism. Some people who have vested interest in the movie are unsuccessfully trying to defend this apparent mockery and in the process creating more confusion, Rajan Zed says.

The broader aim of boycott against this movie is to protect the interests of various minorities and ethnicities and save them from future ridicule. Everyone is a minority in some place and in some sense and deserves to be respected. As fellow humans, is it not everybody's duty to stand for the rights of minorities and speak for them when attempts are made at ridiculing them? Somebody has to make sacrifices so that others can live honorably, Zed stresses.

Rajan Zed further says that comedy should make everybody smile and should not come at the expense of ridiculing others' faith and spreading misinformation. Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at.

Meanwhile, signature campaign launched by Hindu groups against "The Love Guru- has crossed the 6,600 mark.

"The Love Guru" (88 minutes), a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame), opened June 20 in USA and Canada will be released in different parts of the world in the near future. Viacom's family of brands includes MTV, Paramount, DreamWorks, etc. Paramount Pictures Corporation is a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.


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