Weeks before its release, Mike Myers’ latest film, “The Love Guru” is raising flags and stirring up controversy. Scheduled to hit theaters June 20th, the story revolves around an American, Guru Pitka, who is raised by gurus in India. In this comedy, he returns to the U.S. to find fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality. Guru Pitka does not identify himself with any one faith or creed, yet the Hindu community feels that this new Meyers movie has the potential to ridicule many elements of their religion.
Rajan Zed, who was the first Hindu priest to open a session of the U.S. Senate when he recited a prayer on the Senate floor in 2007, and president of the Nevada based Universal Society for Hinduism (USH), told The Associated Press, “‘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. They will have an image in their minds of stereotypes. They will think most of us are like that.” Zed insisted that Paramount Pictures pre-screen the film for prominent members of the Hindu community before its theatrical release.
The Universal Society of Hinduism aims at providing worldwide Hindu identity, enhancing understanding of Hinduism, and fostering interreligious dialogue. Besides the USH, Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha, another Hindu group, has also reportedly expressed displeasure over the portrayal of Hindu characters as buffoons in the film.
Noting that the film features spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra and Hindu actor Manu Narayan, Paramount in its release said that, “‘Love Guru,’ which is not yet complete, is a satire created in the same spirit as ‘Austin Powers.’ It is our full intention to screen the film for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders once it is ready.”
As per MSNBC reports, Myers who is himself a follower and long time friend of Deepak Chopra, said, “He (Chopra) 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. The guru, he breaks down your barriers, gets you silly and gets you light so you’re in a place to receive love.”
With this controversy, “The Love Guru,” has gotten more publicity than it anticipated. If all goes well with the pre-screening of the film for Hindu leaders, come June 20th, one can expect to see many curious Hindu’s lining up to see for themselves what this controversial film is all about.
–written by Visi Tilak