Controversial ‘Love Guru’ quite an entertainer: Indian scribesJune 17th, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS
By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 17 (IANS) The controversy surrounding “The Love Guru” appears to be much ado over nothing, going by the first reaction of Indian journalists previewing Mike Myers’ new comedy ahead of its June 20 release. “Simply as a viewer, ‘The Love Guru’ is an entertainer,” said Reshma Dordi, host and executive producer of Showbiz India TV.
“Actually it is quite like a Bollywood masala film,” she said. “It has comedy, drama, romance, a little action and song and dance like most Bollywood films.”
The film portrays the adventures of ‘Guru Pitka’, raised in an ashram in India, who comes to seek fame and fortune in the US. But it has been accused by a self-styled Hindu leader of lampooning Hinduism.
“I loved it, I am a huge Mike Myers fan and this is a great ‘complete’ comedy,” said Harish Rao, co-founder and creative director of DesiYou.com.
Besides the mainstream American press, Paramount Pictures, producers of the film starring Myers of Austin Powers fame, has over 40 Indian journalists across the US attending advance screenings of the film.
Asked if her reaction would be any different from an Indian American’s perspective, Dordi said: “I would imagine so, especially the nuances of our culture that would be harder for a non-Indo-American to pick up on. In that aspect, I was impressed with the research that went into implementing and portraying the finer layers through comedy,” she said.
Rao said as an Indian American who has grown up in America and as a regular consumer of content, “I go into this movie like I would go into seeing ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’.”
“I expect to be entertained. Unless the subject matter is political in nature, I don’t really cloud my own judgment when viewing comedy.”
Asked to comment on self-styled Hindu leader Rajan Zed’s charge that the “film lampoons Hinduism and Hindus and uses Hindu terms frivolously”, Dordi said: “I personally don’t feel that. The film is very ‘Mike Myers’ style of comedy.’
“It is a light-hearted film poking fun at some stereotypes that may or may not exist. It actually has a very sweet and simple underlying message of pure love through the film.”
Rao too considered Zed’s charge as “quite ironic”. “He claims that the film offends the sensibilities of Hindus without even seeing a film. This is the most egregious form of self-publicity I have ever seen.
“The simple way to ignore a film that may be controversial in your own eyes is not to see it. I am not quite clear how Paramount screening the film for Rajan Zed is going to placate Hindus who may deem this film offensive.
“In fact, it is quite egotistical in my opinion for a so-called spiritual leader to call for a ban against a film,” said Rao. “Isn’t the basic principle of spirituality and in fact the basis of Hindu philosophy to absolve oneself from ego and judgment?” he asked.
“Zed’s entire campaign is about Hindu spiritual leaders having the ability to ’sign off’ or ‘approve’ this film as if he is the authority of what constitutes ’sensibility’ for the believer in Hinduism. Think about it,” Rao said.
The controversy surrounding the film “had a great influence on how I approached seeing this film,” he said. “I saw that ‘The Love Guru’ stars Mike Myers, and I knew it would be a funny light-hearted comedy, and surprise it was that and more!
“What I find interesting is that ‘The Love Guru’ really doesn’t poke fun at Indian culture, or spirituality at all but rather people’s obsession or interpretation of said culture!” he said.
Dordi, on the other hand, said the controversy surrounding the film didn’t really affect her. “I wanted to see the film myself before making any judgments about it. And when I did, I found the film a light-hearted entertainer. In fact, I took my daughter to see the film and she enjoyed it even more than me.
“I am a proud Hindu and consider myself spiritual. I do agree with the film’s definition of spirituality - not to take ourselves so seriously and be able to laugh at ourselves,” she said.
Tags: advance screenings, arun kumar, ashram, bollywood films, bollywood masala, comedy drama romance, creative director, crystal skull, fame and fortune, hindu leader, hindus, indian journalists, indo american, mike myers, paramount pictures, rajan zed, rao co, scribes, showbiz india tv, song and dance