Dr. Gregory House frequently referred to overt acts of philanthropy and generosity as underlying symptoms of a disease. In his vitriolic style, he mocked people for having the “God Complex”, while it can be debated that he had one too.
Various God-men around the world seem to be having this delusion that they have special powers or abilities that promote them to a pedestal that is higher than that of us mere mortals (I think that’s what makes them excel in their line of business). Now, it’s good to have faith in a guide/teacher/guru and have a direction in life, it has helped many a men realize their potential (in movies, mythology, and real life) but I’d rather respect an unassuming inspirational teacher like John Keating (and various other real life ones that I had in school) that makes me yell “Oh captain, my captain”, instead of somebody who uses changing attires, pyrotechnics, and light & sound to mesmerize audience with his theatrics.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insan, as he calls himself (you can’t miss the mass appeal there) happens to be this socio-religious (and I think political as well) leader in India that has a huge following. His ‘fans’ claim that he is a do gooder who is trying to rid youth of the nation from the evil clutches of drugs. He carries out blood donation drives, and his many followers unquestioningly tread on the path illuminated by him. Why should anybody have a problem with such a man who is working for the society?
But then, he decides to make a movie and star in it as a (super)hero. The promotional trailers of MSG-Messenger of God are on the telly and some people like me who are on a highway to hell by India’s religious standards are having a good laugh. His fans have come out all guns blazing on various social media platforms, silencing the detractors and rooting for their babaji. They counter the arguments by asking questions that are only beaten in absurdity by the movie itself.
Those supporting the movie (most of whom are followers of the baba) innocently question that when other movies can show miraculous escapes and stunt scenes, why can’t Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s movie show him performing miracles?
Second. more important question is that when other movies get away with questioning religion in the name of ‘freedom of expression’, shouldn’t the makers of MSG be allowed to have their freedom too?
Both these questions look valid, but there is a difference that I can only highlight with a question(s) of my own.
If the supporters of MSG want to compare it to other mainstream movies then they must answer my questions:
Q1. Is the movie a fictional story about a fictional character who does things on screen only for entertainment of the audience and money for the production houses?
If the answer of Q1 is yes, then Gurmeet Ram Rahim is just an actor playing his part, and the character that he plays on screen is as fictional as Jai, Veeru, and Gabbar. If you answer no, then please help me by answering Q2.
Q2: Is the movie a factual account of the powers vested in baba Ram Rahim, like a biopic on the lines of Gandhi?
If the answer is yes and that the man has such powers, then this is a real life story and it should be first proven that he is in fact capable of performing miracles and I will enroll in his brigade instantly.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim can either be an actor playing by the script in front of the camera or a God-man looking to cash in on popularity and create more naive followers, of which there is no dearth in this country.
If he is an actor then the movie should begin with the usual disclaimer that the story is fictional and has no resemblance to any person living or dead…and so on but if it is not fiction and is in fact a misleading documentary about a man in the profession of religion who in some way will aggrandize himself and his abilities in front of those who are waiting to cling to the next bright ray of sunshine then there should be deliberation before the movie is screened publicly, because then you are setting a precedent that isn’t much different from Nazi time propaganda movies or those created by Islamic radical groups. You may counter by saying that it’s not the same thing and he is a man of peace, but it is; the underlying motive is to push an ideology supported by debatable facts and special effects to highly impressionable people especially in the times when religion is more volatile than ether.
I can say with enough certainty that if Baba Ramdev, Shankaracharya, some Imam or the Vatican funded a movie where these messengers of God played themselves with some miracles and superpowers thrown in for impact then there would be a big hue and cry and people will take to the streets and the same circus would be repeated for the nth time.
But if you are one of those who still want the movie to be screened without any opposition then just admit that religion is a form of entertainment for the elderly, and the naive and let’s have popcorn together at the interval (can I please drink while watching the movie?).