Washington, Apr.18 : Criticism of upcoming Hollywood movie "The Love Guru" for its purported slandering of Hindu practices is stretching across various religions, professions, and age groups.
Furthering the drive pioneered by Indo-American leader Rajan Zed, various organizations and leaders have been coming out and expressing concern about the possibility of the film hurting the sentiments of Hindus worldwide and have been 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.
Prominent documentary filmmaker, Bryan D. Hall, who recently completed a film "Article VI" on faith and politics in America, in a statement issued today, said, "... we need to consider what affect this kind of film will have on the Indian community "Many people who know nothing about Gurus or Hindus might view this portrayal of their culture and religion as something of a reality no matter how ridiculous or humorous it may seem to Westerners. It appears the film will do little to decrease any false stereotypes"
Reverend Alan Dorway, a Presbyterian Pastor in Nevada, has said, "this movie could lead some of the audience to perceive that all followers of gurus or those practicing from a Hindu belief system are caricatures rather than faithful seekers of the spiritual "I humbly ask though that a continued dialogue between those in the Hindu community and the producers of The Love Guru bring about education and continued understanding on topics important to many in the faith community."
Natalie Kaharick, one of the leaders of International Association for Human Values, has stated, "I am incredibly concerned about the image of Indian spirituality conveyed in The Love Guru. From what little I've seen, the movie paints a picture of a "guru" who is interested in sex, meat, drinking, and marketing his philosophy to the public. Many people who have spent time with an actual enlightened master will be offended by such a false and degrading image of spiritual teachers. In a larger context, the trailer paints a negative and ignorant image of the vedic values that are ancient and sacred to India, Hindus, and all those who have benefited from them I feel that The Love Guru may mislead the average American and keep them from experiencing the broader world of Indian spirituality, which includes yoga, meditation and alternative medicine. I hope that Paramount Pictures will consider making some edits that will make this film more appropriate, so that the original intention to make people laugh will shine through without any ramifications or misleading images."
Irwin Sharp Fish Sr., a Native American Cultural/Spirituality Educator belonging to Sicangu Lakota/Burnt Thigh Sioux tradition, stated, "Filmmakers should be more responsible and careful while portraying spirituality and faith issues. We fully support the concerns raised by Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders and we urge 'The Love Guru' producers and Paramount Pictures to positively respond to their feelings. We fully understand their emotions as we also faced stereotyping at the hands of cinema in the past."
Pete Fairley, who runs a highly regarded music group Meadow Rock Percussion, says, " After viewing the online trailer for 'The Love Guru,' I find myself wondering how a film could present such a confused view of a culture. The self-proclaimed Guru Pitka represents the worst of the West's brief 1960s fascination with Indian culture...This has lead to stereotypes...I believe that stereotypes are harmful at many levels, and that our world would benefit from more open and honest efforts to understand and interact with different cultures. Each group has something of beauty to offer, and films that present these aspects of a culture can actually contribute to global peace rather than offending people through disrespecting their way of life."
William M. Miller, Chaplain-Educator in Spokane (Washington), states, "...It is one thing to laugh at the many absurd ways American's embraced Hinduism in the sixties and quite another to laugh at Hindus, making them the butt of jokes based on a smug stereotyping steeped in ignorance. In these tense times for religious pluralism, that sort of humor would not be helpful or necessary..."
Nick J. Coltrain, a student journalist, says, "It may be mildly entertaining, but ultimately ridiculous...It seems to take a subject that few Americans really understand and exploit this misunderstanding for comedic effect..."
Meanwhile, Jawahar L. Khurana, Chairperson of Hindu Alliance of India, has stressed that Paramount Pictures should resolve the issue soon with Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders so that they do not have to take the protest to the streets.
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.