Chaitra Krushna Shashthi
Participate in online signature drive against ‘The Love Guru’, Click Here
To See Details of Latest Protest News of ‘The Love Guru’, Click Here
|This is an example of how Hinduism is lampooned by anybody for any purpose without bothering for a moment that it might hurt others. HJS wholeheartedly congratulates all the pro-Hindu elements in America together with its own activists for rising up to preserve the dignity of Hindu faith by opposing the movie tooth and nail. Let us hope for the day when the birth-Hindus in Bharat will learn a lesson or two from the karma-Hindus of America! – Editor|
- The Love Guru : Hurting Religious sentiments (21 Apr 08)
- ‘Guru-Shishya’ tradition ridiculed in Hollywood’s ‘Love Guru’ ! (13 Apr 08)
- Resentment against movie “The Love Guru” broadening quickly (11 Apr 08)
- Hindu groups attack Mike Meyers’ new film (8 Apr 08)
- ‘Love Guru’ producers shouldn’t placate Hindus: Deepak Chopra (8 Apr 08)
- Hindus get support on ‘The Love Guru’ issue in America (4 Apr 08)
- Is Mike Myers’ new film asking for trouble? (2 Apr 08)
- Hindu leaders are up in arms over ‘The Love Guru’ (31 Mar 08)
- Love Guru woos Hindu priests in sneak peek (23 Mar 08)
- The Love Guru to be screened for US Hindu leaders (19 March 08)
- Hindus not tickled by Love Guru (13 Mar 08)
- American Hindu Leaders Demand To See The Love Guru! (6 Mar 08)
Chaitra Krushna Pratipada
Letter Sent by Seeker of Sanatan Sanstha
Dear Hon. Mr. Robert McClelland,
I am a practicing Hindu and also represent Sanatan Sanstha (www.sanatan.org) a non profit organisation working in the field of Hinduism and Spirituality, apart from social service. Our main interests are spiritual progress of society and guiding spiritual seekers in their spiritual practice, irrespective of their nationality,race and religion.
We recently came across the movie trailer of “Love Guru” with Mike Myers in its lead role. If the movie happens to be on the lines of what we saw in the trailer, it is an extremely shocking depiction of the Guru principle and also goes at great lenghts to humiliate and poke fun at the basic foundations of Sanatan Dharma ( Hinduism). we feel that this movie is not only likely to hurt the sentiments of seekers from various spiritual paths, but also will contribute to the misunderstanding about the sacred concept of the ‘Guru’. This, apart from hurting the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide, who hold the ‘Guru-disciple’ relationship as sacred. By and large, seekers on any spiritual path of Hindu origin respect freedom of expression. It is something that is integral to them. Hinduism as such is well known for its tolerance, hence this peaceful protest and a request to ban this movie from Australian shores.
Australia,our great country is known for its harmony among various faiths, how ever we feel this will create an unrest in the hindu community as this movie goes to an extent to even humiliate our way of life by ridiculing our faith. Not withstanding the current turmoil in our society of drugs,violence,job cuts. To seek solace from his troubled life, a person turns to his faith for strength, but if his faith which is his pillar is being eroded in this fashion, where can this person go?
It is our sincere request to please intervene in this issue and to kindly use your good office to put a ban on this movie from being released in australia and also to remove any of these trailers playing in the movies like Hoyts and village cinemas so that it will not hurt the feelings of the many spiritual seekers and the religious sentiments of devout Hindus in our society.
April 13, 2008
Chaitra Shuddha Navami
Washington: The comedy movie ‘The Love Guru’ produced in America’s Christian film city, Hollywood, has targeted for ridicule the Hindu’s glorious tradition of ‘Guru-Shishya’. The enraged HJS activists and other pro-Hindu groups in America have launched a fiery protest against the movie, which will be released on 20th June. The producers of the movie have embarked upon a wide publicity blitz through TV channels and websites. In the promo ads of the movie, the denigrating scenes about the gurus who have a unique place of reverence in Hindu scriptures and culture have been displayed. The renowned Hindu priest in America Shri. Rajan Zed has sparked the first protest. HJS has sent a strong letter of protest to the producer of the movie and demanded cancellation of the promo ads of the movie immediately.
Role of Sanantan Sanstha and HJS behind protesting ‘The Love Guru’
The Producers, Directors and Distributors,
‘The Love Guru’ movie
Sanatan Sanstha (www.Sanatan.org) and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (www.HinduJagruti.org), are non-profit organizations working in the field of Hinduism and Spirituality, apart from social service. Our main interests are spiritual progress of society and guiding spiritual seekers in their spiritual practice, irrespective of their nationality, race and religion.
The importance of spiritual progress of the individual and the society as a whole is clear to every socially conscious individual, as the present era of materialism has produced enough misery for mankind. With so much suffering that we all are witness to, Spirituality is the only ray of hope for anyone to achieve Bliss or perpetual supreme happiness, to get rid of the various problems that plague society today. In Spirituality, the ‘Guru-Disciple’ relationship is an important system that imparts spiritual knowledge and is very important for spiritual awakening. As we know, there are many who have benefited through this system. The benefits of the guidance and grace of a true Guru, who is a spiritually evolved Master through whom the unmanifest God Principle guides the seeker of God on the spiritual path, cannot be described in words alone, but have to be experienced through actual spiritual practice.
We recently came across the trailer of the movie ‘The Love Guru’ and Rajan Zed’s protest against it. If the trailer is an indicator of the content of the movie, then we feel that this movie is not only likely to hurt the sentiments of seekers from various spiritual paths, but also will contribute to the misunderstanding about the sacred concept of the ‘Guru’.
This, apart from hurting the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide, who hold the ‘Guru-disciple’ relationship as sacred.
By and large, seekers on any spiritual path of Hindu origin respect freedom of expression. It is something that is integral to them. Hinduism as such is well known for its tolerance. I hope you will note that despite this, we are registering this protest and support Rajan Zed’s protest against the denigration indicated in the movie ‘The Love Guru’! This itself shows the extent to which the trailer of this movie is denigrating of the sacred concept of the Guru.
Poking fun is one thing, but if it creates a sense of belittling others’ faith, then it is wrong. Hence, I sincerely request you to remove the trailer from the various websites that it appears on, and make necessary changes to the movie, so that it will not hurt the feelings of the many spiritual seekers and the religious sentiments of devout Hindus worldwide.
April 11, 2008
Chaitra Shuddha Shashthi
Shri. Rajan Zed
Censure of the upcoming Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” over the signals of its denigrating Hindu traditions is mushrooming in both Hindu and non-Hindu circles.
Supporting the movement spearheaded by prominent Hindu and Indo-American leader Rajan Zed, various Hindu and non-Hindu organizations and leaders have been coming out expressing concern about the possibility of the 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.
Swami Pooja Saraswati, a well respected spiritual leader, in a declaration, said, “I watched the trailer for the movie ‘Love Guru’ and was shocked that any respectable movie producer would so blatantly ridicule a great world religion, a culture, spiritual path and sincere way of life, portraying it as farce.”
“Hopefully, Paramount Pictures would agree to make changes suggested by Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders, during the prescreening of this insulting film before millions of Hindus, yogis and people of high spiritual consciousness around the world feel hurt, offended and outraged,” she added.
Reverend John J. Auer, Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Reno, in a statement, said, “…with reference to the film ‘The Love Guru,’ I respectfully request the creators and producers and their investors to grant the Hindu community a respectful way to respond and make any suggested amendments to the film…”
“Neither Mr. Zed nor I has any interest in censorship…However, it is crucial that every faith tradition be given the chance to be heard in response to any portrayal in popular culture of elements of that tradition that might be easily misrepresented and/or misunderstood,” Rev. Auer added.
HJS member in USA, in a release today, demanded removal of the trailer and making changes to the movie “The Love Guru”, so that it will not hurt the feelings of the many spiritual seekers and the religious sentiments of devout Hindus worldwide.
Shinde further said that if the trailer is an indicator of the content of the movie, then we feel that this movie is not only likely to hurt sentiments of seekers from various paths of spiritual practice, but will also contribute to the misunderstanding about the sacred concept of the ‘Guru’. We are registering this protest, in support of Rajan Zed’s protest against the denigration indicated in the movie ‘The Love Guru’, she added.
Alison Pratte, a yoga leader, has stated, “I was surprised to find myself offended after watching the trailer ‘The Love Guru’…the depiction of the main character in the movie seems more than a harmless spoof. It is loaded with an ignorant stereotype of a culture and religion that is already misunderstood and stigmatized…This movie ‘The Love Guru’ will only cause more ignorance and bring shame to a beautiful tradition that has existed for thousands of years.”
Andrea Forman, Founder of Shanti Shanti, only Sanskrit rock band in the world, in a statement, said, “…it should be noted that the portrayal of a Guru depicted in this movie, is entertaining, but not an accurate portrayal of the austere and revered spiritual guides that are so dear to the practice and continuation of Hindu and Buddhist teachings.”
Father Charles T. Durante, a Catholic priest well respected in northern Nevada for his various community outreach efforts; Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, a well known Jewish leader in parts of California and Nevada; Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., Head Bishop of International Community of Christ; Reverend William Bartlett, a well known Buddhist priest and Interfaith Chaplain; Lonnie L. Feemster, civil rights activist and Religious Affairs Chair of Reno-Sparks National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Vidya Chaitanya, Director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Los Angeles; Paradheya Das of Sri Krishna Vedic Cultural Association in Sacramento (California); Jawahar L. Khurana, Chairperson of Hindu Alliance of India; Rakesh Nagpal, General Secretary of Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha; Lila D. Sharma, President of India Heritage Panel; and Dharam Loonaa, Executive Director of the Universal Society of Hinduism; have already issued statements in support of this cause espoused by Zed.
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.
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.
April 8, 2008
Chaitra Shuddha Trutiya
‘Why is God laughing?’ muses Mike Meyers, the comedian whose Austin Powers movies have grossed over $1 billion worldwide.Meyers knows the answer: He gets the joke.
But Meyers and Dr Deepak Chopra, whose book Why Is God Laughing is to be released in June around the same time as Meyers’s film The Love Guru, are worried that some Hindus don’t get the joke in the movie. (Defamation of Hindu Symbols is not a joke? Will they make mockery of their own mother & father? – Editor)
“No matter what you write or do, the fundamentalists attack it,” Dr Chopra tells rediff.com in an exclusive interview. This is the first time anyone has held a long discussion on the $80 million film. “It doesn’t matter if you are a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian: If you are a fundamentalist, you have a problem.” (If Hindus are fundamentalist, then Dr. Chopra would have not dare to say this thing? Would he dare to defame Prophet or write against him? – Editor)
The group Universal Society of Hinduism led in America by Rajan Zed, who made history when he recited prayers in Sanskrit in the United States Senate last year, were worried when trailers of the film popped up a few weeks ago. They successfully demanded that they should be shown the film.
The Love Guru has for its tagline: His Karma is Huge.
It focuses on Pitka (Meyers), an American raised outside of his country by gurus but who returns to America to break into the self-help business. His first challenge: To solve the romantic troubles and subsequent professional skid of a star hockey player whose wife left him for a rival athlete.
The film also features Jessica Alba; Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley plays a character called Guru Tugginmypudha. Among the actors playing smaller roles is Manu Narayaan, the star of the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams.
Rajan Zed “From the information available about the movie, it appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously,” says Zed, “Guru is a highly revered spiritual teacher/master/preceptor in Hinduism 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 associated with the divine. Guru imparts spiritual knowledge completely free from selfish motives.”
“Paramount (the distributor) has indicated that they wanted to work out the issue with us,” he adds. “We hope that Paramount will be sensitive to the sentiments of the adherents of the third largest religion in the world.”
But Dr Chopra, who is making waves with two bestsellers, The Buddha (a novel) and The Third Jesus in which he argues that Jesus Christ is not the monopoly of Christian churches, would not have wanted Paramount to show the film to Zed and like-minded protesters.
“Mike was being conciliatory,” says Dr Chopra, speaking in his austere office at the Chopra Spa in New York. “He said he will meet them, show them the movie, etc. I called Mike and said to him ‘If you think you are going to placate them, you are going to anger them even more.’ I would not placate them.”
Dr Chopra, who is being called the anti-Christ and a devil by fundamentalist Christians for claiming that Christ never intended to start a religion, adds: “I would make fun of them (the Hindu groups). I would say your faith is so weak that a comedy can offend you. I would then tell them, Your faith is not faith; it’s a cover up for insecurity. Just because you are vegetarian and you dress like Hindus it doesn’t mean you have strong faith.” (Hindus must remember such anti-Hindus and should act against them! – Editor)
He is reminded of a line from Woody Allen about the end of the world: On Judgment Day the lions will lie down with the lambs, but the lambs will be very, very nervous.
Asks Dr Chopra: “In this case we have Hindu lions attacking Hollywood lambs, but why?”
“The Love Guru is a comedy, and comedies poke fun,” he continues. “I make a cameo appearance in the film, and viewers will find out when they see the film that no one is more thoroughly skewered in it than I am — you could even say that I am made to seem preposterous.” (Hindu symbols are not things for making comedy! – Editor)
If he doesn’t take offense and some Hindus do, that doesn’t make him superior or even innately tolerant. “I know the difference between a belly laugh and a diatribe,” he says.
“If you truly understood your faith, you would not be so easily offended,” he continues, speaking gently but firmly. “Because what is offended is your ego. You are actually showing the weakness of your faith. I’m making fun of myself in the movie.” (Hindus have truely understood meaning of Guru and that’s why they are protesting against defamation of Guru! – Editor)
Meyers, who is the voice of Shrek in the phenomenally popular Shrek films, has said his movie pays tribute to three things he cherishes most: The Beatles, the James Bond films, and Deepak Chopra with whom he has shared the stage in New York and other cities doing stand-up comedy. He imitates Dr Chopra’s accent in the film.
“I’m making fun of Mike in my book,” Dr Chopra adds, and then goes at the protestors.
“What kind of Hindu are you? You are so easily offended,” he adds. “I told Mike, ‘Let’s go on the offensive. We should thank them for making the noise. The more noise they make, the more successful the movie will be.'” (Hindus should pose ban on ‘Love Guru’ for defaming the Hindu symbols! – Editor)
While Meyers and Paramount apparently do not want to sound hostile to any faith, they may have the last laugh if the film becomes a big hit when it unfolds in some 3,000 theatres in North America.
How did Meyers come to know Dr Chopra?
“A few years ago, he had a bit of an existential crisis,” Dr Chopra reveals. “He started to read some of my books, listen to the tapes, and (in the last 3, 4 years) to entertain himself he started to do one-act theatre in Greenwich Village, New York, where he would imitate my accent. Then he started to write the screenplay and he came to me and said, ‘Listen, I am a comedian and the only way I can pay tribute is through humour. I want to pay tribute to you because you have influenced my life and so this is a screenplay about someone who wants to be like Deepak Chopra. I want you to do a cameo appearance and just give me your blessings.'”
Meyers writes in the foreword to Dr Chopra’s book Why Is God Laughing: ‘I’ve had many heroes in my life. My father was the first; Deepak Chopra is the most recent.’
Why Is God Laughing is a curious mix of a novel and how-to manual, ‘Deepak has managed to dramatise brilliantly in the form of Mickey Fellows, a comedian forced to face his darkest fears,’ says Meyers.
‘Deepak shows us that there is darkness in the world and that comedy is a candle; he encourages us to meditate on the candle and not the darkness.’
Dr Chopra has not seen the edited film but he has seen quite a bit of it, and he has confidence in Meyers, the star and producer, and first-time director Marco Schnabel, who worked as an assistant director on the Austin Powers movies.
Adds Dr Chopra: ‘Of course, the movie makes a lot of fun about New Age spirituality. I thought this was a great opportunity to make our Indian philosophy even more popular because despite the popularity of the books, young kids do not know much about it; and humour is a good vehicle. So I told Mike ‘You do the movie that is a spoof and I will do a book at the same time.’ It is actually about Mike and how he is a depressive person who covers up his existential depression through comedy.” (Humour is not medium to give the knowledge of Hinduism to young kids.It will create negative stereotypes of Hindusim. Knowledge about Dhrma can be given by the Guru and Older people by telling the science behind the things in Hindu Dharma! HJS conducts ‘Dharma Satsang’ for people to give them knowledge about Hinduism!- Editor)
“You should write to him (Zed) saying that you met Dr Chopra,” he tells this reporter. “Tell them that Dr Chopra is very thankful to you for creating so much publicity both for the movie as well as for his book.”
“They (the religious critics) will create our publicity,” he says with a chuckle. “They are going to help us. The more noise they make, the more popular the film will be and the more people will begin to relate to Indian philosophy.”
In an e-mail note to this reporter Zed says he and other protestors “support freedom of expression and creativity.”
“Cinema is a powerful medium,” he notes. “We object when it aids in creating negative stereotypes of Hindu characters. The Universal Society of Hinduism aims at providing worldwide Hindu identity, enhancing understanding of Hinduism, and fostering inter-religious dialogue. We are expressing the overall sentiments of the Hindu community by taking a stand regarding this film. Various other groups and individuals have also come out on this issue.” (Conratulations to Shri. Rajan Zed for spreading Hinduism & protesting against defamation of Hinduism! – Editor)
New York: While insisting that the producers of “The Love Guru” should not have placated Hindu protesters by agreeing to pre-screen the Hollywood comedy for them, self-help guru Deepak Chopra, who plays a cameo in the film, has welcomed the publicity. Chopra, the India-born, US-based writer of many best-selling books, said he called the film’s star and co-producer Mike Myers, known for the Austin Powers films, to tell him: “If you think you are going to placate them, you are going to anger them even more. I would not placate them”. (To make an attempt to listen to someone protesting and trying to have a dialogue is the correct approach. By labelling it as placating this gentleman is trying to block any intellectual interaction too ! This is his spirituality. Let us remind him that it is the TRADITION OF sanatan Dharma to debate and sort out the diffrences. To decline that, means ‘I know everything’ approach ! It’s not spirituality. Well what else to expect from Deepak Chopra,who is more concerned with publicity than feelings of Hindus ! – Editor) So it becomes nothing but Chopra told rediff.com Monday: “I would make fun of them (the Hindu groups). I would say your faith is so weak that a comedy can offend you.” (Hindus, please understand Chopra’s language. It is clear from it that making fun of Hindus is a deliberate thing. The problem is not with the protestors’ faith, but the movie’s spreading misinformation about Hinduism and its sacred Guru tradition. So, as per Chopra’s logic, the Islamic protestors in the Danish cartoon controversy become persons with the weakest faith! Why doesn’t Chopra test his faith by making some parody and comments like this on them! The fact that Chopra does not laugh at them, shows that he is taking undue advantage of the tolerence and apathy of Hindus in such matters. – Editor)
“‘The Love Guru’ is a comedy and comedies poke fun,” he continued. “I make a cameo appearance in the film, and viewers will find that no one is more thoroughly skewered in it than I am.” (Deciding to make a commedy does not mean that it’s a license to make anything on any subject, disregarding the faith of others and creating misconceptions about their faith. – Editor) Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the film, has agreed to show the film, when complete, to Hindu leaders. They were persuaded by Rajan Zed, who has floated a Hindu group after receiving attention for delivering Hindu opening prayer in the US Senate last year. Looking at the one released trailer of the film, he felt the film lampooned Hinduism and might create negative stereotypes of Hindu characters.
Billed the biggest Hollywood comedy this summer, the film revolves around the Myers character of Pitka, an Indian style American guru with a penchant for resolving romantic problems of celebrities. Also starring Ben Kingsley, Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake, the film appears to be using double entendres – “His karma is huge” is its tagline, and guru characters have names like Tugginmypudha.
Chopra said: “This was a great opportunity to make our Indian philosophy even more popular because despite the popularity of the books, young kids do not know much about it and humour is a good vehicle.” (This is not the case with a religion like Islam, because nothing of this sort is ever tolerated in it, where kids are aware of their faith and willing to join hands with their elders, to protect their faith. If soemone goes on putting money to make fun of spiritual jewels in Hinduism, and persons like Deepak Chopra are going to support it in this fashion, then it conveys the message that it’s all a part of a big design to malign Hinduism. As such, the main actor (Myers) in this film is already known for maligning Hinduism in an earlier film. – Editor)
Chopra’s book “Why Is God Laughing” will be launched in June around the release of Myers’ film. The book, he said, is about Myers and how he covers up his existential depression through comedy. (So one prepares a movie, hurting others’ religious sentiments, to come out of depression ! A great idea indeed! – Editor)
Chopra expressed gratefulness to religious critics for creating publicity both for the movie as well as for his book. (So Chopra is more interested in publicity of self than in the betterment of Hinduism and fellow Hindus! – Editor)
Chopra is already being called the anti-Christ and a devil by fundamentalist Christians for claiming that Jesus never intended to start a religion in his new book “The Third Christ”. His stance on the movie may earn him the ire of some fringe Hindu groups as well.
April 4, 2008
Phalgun Krushna Chaturdashi
USA: Even thoughHindus in America are not known as a major lobbying group but they have managed to win the support of Christians and other religionists against the upcoming movie ‘The Love Guru’, which is said to have portrayed Hinduism in less than a reasonable manner.
In fact, a number of religious leaders have come out in support of Hindus, who were concerned about the upcoming Hollywood movie ‘The Love Guru’ apparently degrading their institutions.
Father Charles T Durante, a Catholic priest well respected in northern Nevada for his various community outreach efforts, in a statement, said, “…it is important that we respect those parts of every faith tradition, which are held especially sacred. I applaud Paramount Pictures for being open to the request of Hindu leaders to preview this film and listen to any concerns that may arise for them…”
Rabbi Jonathan B Freirich, a well known Jewish leader in parts of California and Nevada, in a statement, stressed, “While ‘The Love Guru’ appears to be a funny take on New Age spirituality, it seems like it may portray many Hindu practices in a less than sensitive light…it would be appropriate for the producers of ‘The Love Guru’ to make efforts to assure the religious communities of the United States that they in no way wish to make any general statements about Hinduism.”
Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr, head bishop of International Community of Christ, welcoming the decision of Paramount Pictures to pre-screen the movie for Rajan Zed and other leaders, has said that we must take religion seriously and businesses should give due regard to the feelings of adherents of various faiths.
Vidya Chaitanya, director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Los Angeles, in a statement, said, “…The guru has traditionally been the spiritual guide or teacher and as such is respected, revered and in some cases, worshipped…. This movie demeans the role of guru…”
Jawahar L Khurana, chairperson of Hindu Alliance of India, has also entered the fray. In a statement in Haryana (India), he stressed that film being so powerful a medium in forming public opinion that Hollywood and other film centres should be very careful in handling the sensitivities of world communities. He welcomed the initial Paramount offer of pre-screening the movie but added that his group would be closely watching the Paramount moves to resolve this issue to the satisfaction of the concerned people.
Rakesh Nagpal of Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha, and Lila D Sharma of India Heritage Panel, has lauded prominent Indo-American leader Rajan Zed for spearheading this issue and added that their organisations would fully support him in his efforts.
Meanwhile, Rajan Zed, thanking Paramount for attending to the pleas of Hindu community and attempting to reach a resolution, urged the moviemakers to be positively responsive to their concerns be prepared to make amends if requested.
‘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. ‘His Karma is huge’ is its tagline. 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.
April 2, 2008
Phalgun Krushana Ekadashi
This news is posted here only to give information to Hindus as to how people belonging to other faiths denigrate Hindus symbols of faith and later cleverly state that they did not intend to hurt anybody’s religious sentiments. From this example Hindus should note the efforts of Christians, Muslims, Communists and other anti-Hindus to target Hindu Dharma at large. Hindus should stand united against such forces. – Editor
Los Angeles, California (AP) – As the people of Kazakhstan know all too well, mockery of culture and religion seems to be kosher in Hollywood, under the following conditions: Mike Myers plays the Guru Pitka in “The Love Guru,” out this summer. The humor must be so over-the-top, so beyond reality, that it could never be misconstrued as mean-spirited. That, and the targeted groups cannot be large enough, loud enough or organized enough so that their hurt feelings make an impact at the box office.
Just ask Borat. Though Kazakhs complained that their country and customs were grossly misrepresented in “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the film was a $128 million domestic success among the top-grossing films of 2006.
In the context of Sacha Baron Cohen’s uncomfortable in-character interactions with unwitting Americans, Mike Myers’ parody of another cultural minority in the U.S. as the oversexed, overly ambitious, American-born spiritual leader in the summer comedy “The Love Guru” would hardly seem cause for complaint.
Myers’ character is an amalgamation of Eastern-style spiritual movements, never making reference to any particular religion. And yet the Guru Pitka billed as “the second best guru in India” draws a distinct picture.
He wears long hair, a long beard and a flowing caftan. “Prepare to get your enlightenment freak on,” Pitka tells visitors to his MySpace page, where he blends real information such as the Sanskrit origins of the word “guru” with silliness, including impossible yoga poses that would require elastic limbs. He plays sappy pop songs on the sitar. His mantra is “Mariska Hargitay.”
Pitka identifies himself as “a spiritual teacher affiliated with no one faith” and has the same crass-and-goofy charm as Myers’ Austin Powers and “Wayne’s World” characters. And the movie’s plot he heads West when he’s offered $2 million to heal a hockey star’s romance so the team can win the Stanley Cup is harmless enough. Still, weeks before the movie is even ready for screening, some in the Hindu community feel that “The Love Guru” has the potential to ridicule important elements of their religion.
Rajan Zed, a self-described Hindu leader from Nevada, demanded that Paramount Pictures screen the film for members of the Hindu community before it is released in June. Based on the movie’s trailer and MySpace page, Zed says “The Love Guru” “appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus” and uses sacred terms frivolously.
“People are not very well-versed in Hinduism, so this might be their only exposure,” he told The Associated Press. “They will have an image in their minds of stereotypes. They will think most of us are like that.” Paramount, which has screened sensitive films for select audiences in the past, said early screenings would be held for the Hindu community.
” ‘Love Guru,’ which is not yet complete, is a satire created in the same spirit as Austin Powers,” Paramount said in a statement, noting that the film features spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra and Hindu actor Manu Narayan. “It is our full intention to screen the film for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders once it is ready.”
Myers, who declined to be interviewed for this story, says in an episode of the Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclasts” that Chopra, his longtime friend, was the inspiration for the Love Guru character. “He is the basis of why I went down this path of a character like that, and it’s because I am interested in higher states of consciousness and I am interested in comedy,” Myers says. “The guru, he breaks down your barriers, gets you silly and gets you light so you’re in a place to receive love.”
But religious communities rarely take well to faith-themed comedies, said Diane Winston, a professor of media and religion at the University of Southern California. “To be funny, you have to get in people’s faces and disturb their complacent perspectives,” she said. “Religious groups have tended to be very concerned about their portrayal in the media, especially the entertainment media. Often … in comedies, it’s a very broad representation which they perceive as offensive. It’s the nature of stereotype.”
Her take on “The Love Guru” trailer and Web site? Rather than a spoof of Eastern religion, it seems more of a satire of American culture’s tendency toward materialism, promiscuity and quick spiritual fixes told through a pseudo religious figure. “The character didn’t have to be a guru. He could just as well have been a rabbi, minister, priest or imam,” she said. “These are problems within the culture at large. “Hindus were a fresh target,” she continued. “Jews and Christians have been parodied before so perhaps Myers thought this was a different take on a familiar comedy routine.”
Myers’ publicist, Ina Treciokas, declined to comment for this story. A Hindu nun at the Vedanta Society of Southern California, who asked not to be named because she felt it was not appropriate to seem like she was speaking for the faith, said secular and religious culture are “fused” in India, which could give rise to sensitivity if it appears sacred customs are being ridiculed.
“A good satire should pinch a bit,” she said. “To gauge the movie on two minutes is impossible. But I can see, after having seen two minutes, that people who are sensitive would want to see more.” Just as most viewers of “Borat” know that the character’s over-the-top antics have little to do with the reality in Kazakhstan, Myers’ Guru Pitka is similarly silly and has nothing explicitly to do with Hinduism. Still, the film was inspired by Myers’ real spiritual quest, which began after his father’s death in 1991.
Paramount officials point out that “The Love Guru” is “non-denominational comedy that celebrates spirituality and that the character has his own fictional belief system.” For all its sight gags and goofy jokes, the film is about three things, Myers says: “It’s about fate versus choice … it’s about self love and the third part of it is that internal validation trumps external validation.”
March 31, 2008
Phalgun Krushna Navami
USA: Hindu leaders are up in arms over a crazy little thing called The Love Guru.(Defamation of Hinduism is not a ‘crazy little thing’ ! – Editor)
The forthcoming Mike Myers comedy, not due out until June, already has some religious and cultural leaders calling foul on the film. A handful of Hindu higher-ups are voicing concerns, based on the trailer and promotions already released, that the movie will unfairly play into stereotypes and potentially ridicule their beliefs.
“The movie appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously,” Rajan Zed, president of the Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism, told India’s Hindustan Times.
The Hindu group Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha issued a statement saying “that portrayal of Hindu characters like buffoons is not acceptable.”
Zed has said the film will lead unenlightened audiences to believe “most of us are like that.”
What that is: a flowing-haired, long-bearded, caftan-wearing, sitar-strumming guru played, as usual, to exaggerated comic effect by Myers.
In the film, Myers character, Guru Pitka, is not given a specific religion but rather an amalgamation of various Eastern religions. On Love Guru’s MySpace page, he refers to himself as “his holiness…a spiritual teacher with no one faith.” He has a penchant for yoga and his mantra is “Mariska Hargitay.”(Yoga is born from Hindu Dharma, so how Myers can say that Love Guru has no specific religion? – Editor)
The film’s studio, Paramount Pictures, says it is working to allay the fears of Hindu leaders. A studio rep says Love Guru will be screened for Zed and others, once the film is completed.
The studio also said made note that the film was hardly meant to be taken as a documentary, calling it a “nondenominational comedy” and “a satire created in the same spirit as Austin Powers.”
In the movie, Guru Pitka, “the second best guru in India,” is offered $2 million to head West and heal a star hockey player’s broken heart so he can get back to the game and win his team the Stanley Cup.
Jessica Alba, Verne Troyer, Justin Timberlake, Deepak Chopra and Ben Kingsley also star in the film.
It isn’t the first time a Myers project has drawn ire from the Hindu community. In Vanity Fair’s 1999 Hollywood issue, published in April of that year, Myers dressed up as a Hindu diety for a photo shoot with David LaChapelle. After a stream of protests and negative press, both the photographer and the magazine, in an editor’s note published two months later, apologized for any offense.
March 23, 2008
Phalgun Krushna Dwitiya
USA: It isn’t just Bollywood that’s paranoid about offending sensibilities and the culture Taliban. Paramount Pictures, producers of The Love Guru — billed as the biggest Hollywood comedy this summer — have decided to screen the movie for Hindu leaders before its June release.
According to reports, Canadian comic Mike Myers has lived up to his reputation of irreverence bordering on innuendo in the film. “The movie appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously,” Rajan Zed, Nevada-based chief of the Universal Society of Hinduism, and “America’s most savvy Hindu priest”, said after watching the trailer.
The movie featuring Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake and Ben Kingsley, “is a satire created in the same spirit as Austin Powers”, says Paramount publicist Jessica Rovins.
So, anticipate the same crude humour that laced the spy spoof series. In The Spy Who Shagged Me, Myers spoke about Guru Shastri who taught him hypnosis, “a chaste man who died from a disease that had the hallmarks of syphilis”.
In The Love Guru, Kingsley plays Guru Tugginmypudha, the ashram leader who teaches Myers how to love himself and wear a chastity belt. Iranian stand-up comic Omid Djalili enacts Guru Satchabigknoba. Myers plays Guru Pitka, an American raised in an ashram in India, who moves back to the US to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality. The movie also has a cameo by celebrated New Age guru Deepak Chopra.
“It’s immature, it’s juvenile, it’s strange, it’s quintessential Myers,” says Djalili on his blog. In a 1999 photo spread in Vanity Fair, Myers posed as a Hindu icon with a long red tongue, surrounded by nude women who resembled Goddess Kali.
Zed, who delivered the first Hindu opening prayer in the US Senate last year, demanded Paramount pre-screen the film, citing the precedent of Mel Gibson getting The Passion of Christ cleared by Jews and Christians.
March 19, 2008
Phalgun Shuddha Trayodashi
USA: After The Love Guru, billed as the biggest Hollywood comedy this summer, raised the hackles of Indians for allegedly belittling Hinduism, Paramount Pictures has agreed to screen the film for Hindu leaders once it is completed.
The film is by Mike Myers of Austin Powers fame, and has a cameo by New Age guru Deepak Chopra. It revolves around an American raised in an Indian ashram who returns home as a saffron-robed, hirsute, self-help guru named Pitka with a knack for solving celebrities’ romantic problems.
“It appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously,” Rajan Zed, the Nevada-based president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said after watching the film’s trailer.
Zed, who delivered the first Hindu opening prayer in the US Senate in Washington last year, demanded Paramount pre-screen the film for Hindu representatives. He cited the precedent of Mel Gibson getting the controversial “The Passion of Jesus Christ” cleared from Jews and Christians in 2004.
Paramount’s publicist Jessica Rovins, in a message Sunday, agreed to screen the film for Zed and other Hindu leaders in the US. But she defended it as a “satire created in the same spirit as Austin Powers (a series of comedies revolving around the madcap character created by Myers). It was not being made to offend anybody, she added.
Myers, the co-producer, co-writer and lead actor of The Love Guru, has received flak earlier too for offending Hindu sensibilities. In a 1999 photo spread in the reputed Hollywood journal Vanity Fair, the Canadian comic appeared as a Hindu demigod with a long red tongue, surrounded by Kali-like nude women.
Myers said at the time that he was only lampooning the likes of Michael Jackson flocking to Indian gurus. But the rage among NRIs in the US forced the magazine to publish an apology from the photographer.
The often irreverent and sometimes derogatory depiction of Hinduism in western popular culture has been a sore point with NRIs for many years.
13 March 2008
Phalgun Shuddha Saptami
New York: Hollywood’s reigning gagmeister Mike Myers latest comedy, The Love Guru, is set to be released on June 20 but some Hindus in the US are not amused, especially after watching the film’s trailers. They feel that the movie lampoons Hinduism.
The comedy has big Hollywood names in the cast, including Myers, Ben Kingsley, Jessica Alba, Bombay Dreams hero Manu Narayan and Justin Timberlake. Myers told Rotten Tomatoes, a website devoted to movie review, news and information, that he did tonnes of “read-throughs” and scripted the big laughs by having “secret shows” of The Love Guru in small New York theatres before polishing up the final screenplay.
Rajan Zed, a well-known Hindu leader who delivered the first Hindu opening prayer in the US Senate in Washington, told DNA that he had asked Paramount Pictures to arrange a screening of The Love Guru for Hindu leaders so that they could vet the film before it was released.
“I was deeply concerned after watching the trailer. It appears to be lampooning Hinduism. Hindu terms are also used frivolously. It perpetuates stereotypes of Hindus,” Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said.
Zed, who also teaches Hinduism in a US college, pointed out that Hollywood actor-producer Mel Gibson screened The Passion of Christ before releasing the film in theatres. He suggested Myers should also get a green-light from Hindu leaders instead of offending film-goers.
“I do have an email response from Paramount,” said Zed. “But we have to wait and watch.” Paramount, however, declined comment when contacted by DNA.
Myers is trying to create the magic of Austin Powers through his new film. The plot is goofy: Meyers plays Pitka, an American abandoned at the gates of an ashram in India as a child. After being raised by gurus, he moves back to the US (with his elephant) to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help.
Pitka’s unorthodox methods are tested when he gets involved in resolving a rift between a professional hockey player (Romany Malco) and his estranged wife, who starts an affair with a rival hockey player (Justin Timberlake) out of spite. This sends Malco’s character into a professional slump and throes of jealousy – to the horror of the team’s owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer). Pitka is tasked with returning the couple to marital nirvana and getting Roanoke back on his game so the team can break the 40-year-old ‘Bullard Curse’ and win the Stanley Cup.
Following is the news report by Rafe Telsch, www.cinemablend.com
It’s not uncommon for religiously charged movies to give the groups they are depicting or possibly offending a chance to view the movie in advance. The Catholic church gets to screen some of the best movies that way, from The Passion of the Christ to The Da Vinci Code. It’s an understandable move, however. If the potentially offending group can offer their endorsement, it gets rid of a world of trouble and opens a film for a wider audience.
I don’t think anyone ever expected to see Mike Myers on the same list as Mel Gibson’s Passion or Ron Howard’s Da Vinci, but somehow he is. His upcoming film The Love Guru has been targeted by the Universal Society of Hinduism, who have put forth the demand that the movie be shown to Hindu leaders and organizations before its release.
The request comes from a fear that the movie appears to be lampooning Hinduism while tossing about Hindu terminology frivolously, according to a press release issued by the group. President of the Society, Rajan Zed, stated that Hinduism should not be taken lightly, as the oldest and third largest religion in the world. Here’s the question though Zed: if people haven’t been too worried about lampooning the largest religion in the world, what makes you think the third largest has a shot?
I’m not condoning Mike Myers or his movie. I actually don’t have much interest in The Love Guru at all. I have this nagging suspicion that it’s going to be full of many of the same jokes that showed up in Austin Powers, which in turn were used previously in Wayne’s World. Don’t get me wrong – I laughed at them in both franchises, but I’m not sure I’d find humor in the same punchlines a third time.