Hindus urge FCC intervention in The Love Guru movie

Mumbai: Hindu groups have contacted Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging intervention in the matter of the upcoming Hollywood movie The Love Guru saying "it will hurt the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide".

Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, in a communiqué to FCC chairman and chief executive officer Kevin J. Martin and four other commissioners said, "…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."

FCC is an independent United States government agency charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. Since it does not cover movies as such, Shinde wrote in this communiqué, "…the movie will end up on TV and Cable at a later date, further penetrating the myths about the sacred concept of the Guru, and hurting religious and spiritual sentiments."

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 this film 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.

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 Paramount Pictures makes necessary changes to it.

National Association of Theatre Owners vice president G. Kendrick Macdowell, 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…"

A prominent Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada, 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, 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.

Paramount Pictures Corporation is a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.