Washington, May 15 : The prestigious British Film Institute (BFI) has assured protesting Hindus that it will not screen or release the upcoming Hollywood movie "The Love Guru".
Ilona Cheshire, BFI Press Officer, replying to a communique from Bhavna Shinde of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and the Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, said, "Please rest assured that the BFI will not be screening this title nor will be involved with a possible release of it."
Besides BFI, Hindu groups have contacted the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Culture, the Film Council, the British Board of Film Classification, the British Council, the British Screen Advisory Council, the Cinema Exhibitors Association, the Film Distributors' Association, the Churches' Media Council, the Video Standards Council, the Cineworld Cinemas, the Office of Film Communication, the Showcase Cinemas and the United International Pictures urging them not to distribute or screen upcoming Hollywood movie "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," said Shinde said in these communiques.
"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," added Shinde.
Meanwhile, furthering the drive pioneered by acclaimed Hindu and 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 or religious, music, yoga and civil rights leaders have already issued statements in support of this cause espoused by Rajan Zed.
In addition to UK, Hindu groups have recently been approaching film distributors associations, exhibitors groups, regulatory bodies, government ministries and theater owners in various parts of the world urging them not to distribute or screen "The Love Guru" till Paramount Pictures makes necessary changes to it.
G. Kendrick Macdowell, Vice President of the National Association of Theatre Owners, largest exhibition trade organization in the world, replying to one such request 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," Macdowell added.
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" is a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame, who is also the co-writer and co-producer), Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley.
Directed by Marco Schnabel, the movie 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.
World-renowned BFI, launched in 1933, besides other activities, is involved in screening and release of films in UK. Established by Royal Charter, it has the largest cinema screen in UK. Paramount Pictures Corporation is a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.