THE LOVE GURU JERKS KNEES
There’s always someone ready with a jerky knee whenever a film touches
religion and The Love Guru is making jerks ahead of its release. Andrew L. Urban
looks at the jerks.
The Love Guru opens in the US mid June 2008, then in Australia in early July,
but awareness of the film has probably been lifted by the noise from “acclaimed
Hindu leader Rajan Zed” His words. Rajan Zed has sent me (and an undisclosed
multitude of others, no doubt) half a dozen lengthy emails since late April,
trying to whip up a storm of protest against The Love Guru, a Mike Myers comedy
In the film, Pitka is an American raised by gurus in an ashram in India who
returns to the US to set up a highly commercialised self-help business, riding
around town on a motorised carpet with a cell phone glued to his ear as he
mouths slogans dipped in oriental wisdom.
Rajan Zed is a Hindu chaplain from Reno who was invited to read prayers to the
Nevada Assembly and the Nevada Senate, as well as the United States Senate. He
also read the historic first Hindu prayers in the State Senates of California,
New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington. Clearly, he’s not a nutter. But he’s badly
misguided in seeking to impose religious censorship on filmmakers; it is always
counterproductive and it reflects badly on the faith being defended as being too
weak to withstand (in this case comedic) assault.
But Zed is unaware of this; he has even found a Rabbi willing to help his
lobbying. He writes in one of his emails: “A prominent Jewish Rabbi [is there
any other kind of Rabbi?] has called for boycott of upcoming movie The Love Guru
because it ‘lampoons Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy’ and
asking ‘who laughs at religious practices’.” Well, the Monty Python gang, for
starters, and their millions of fans for seconders.
Zed quotes Rabbi Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada, saying, “The Love Guru lampoons
Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy. While ‘Guru Pitka’ [the
central character in the film] states that he endorses no particular religion,
the movie clearly portrays him as a guru - religious leader of Hindus. It is
unfortunate that the comedy jabs at a culture of which many Americans are not
familiar. It leaves viewers with a distorted, sexually flagrant parody…In the
case of this movie, we owe it to our Hindu friends to speak out against this
misleading sham. Gross distortions of another culture do not lead to improved
relations, tolerance and understanding. They lead towards disrespect. Please
join me in a boycott of this movie.”
"it is not meant to be taken seriously on any level"
Zed and his friendly Rabbi should know that if a movie is clearly intended to
be ridiculous of itself, it is not meant to be taken seriously on any level. Not
being able to make this differentiation is a sign of profound immaturity and
Indian American Manu Narayan, who also stars in the film, has dismissed Zed’s
reaction as “a tempest in a teapot created by a self-promoting Hindu leader who
does not represent South Asians in the US and whose only frame of reference is a
short trailer. I'm proud of this movie and enjoyed creating the character of
Rajneesh,” said Narayan, who plays an Indian born apprentice of Guru Pitka, the
lead character played by Myers, of Austin Powers fame.
Zed’s alerts have reached Australia (other than my own email IN box). Vamsi
Krishna of the Australian chapter of Sanatan Sanstha, has apparently written to
the Attorney General asking him 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…” It’s beside the point, really, but neither Zed nor the Rabbi nor
anyone else on his bandwagon have seen the film before clamouring for its
banning or boycotting.
They can rest easy, though; Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion. It is
resilient and with a billion followers, it can easily and elegantly handle Mike
Myers without the help of Rajan Zed & Co.
Published June 5, 2008
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Mike Myers as The Love Guru