'Direct assault': Hollywood movie scene triggers online outrage in India

'Direct assault': Hollywood movie scene triggers online outrage in India

Many including right-wing group leaders demand removal of intimate scene from Oppenheimer movie quoting scripture

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) – An intimate scene in the Hollywood biopic Oppenheimer featuring a verse from Hindu scripture is drawing fire in India, with a senior government official calling it a "scathing attack on Hinduism."

The movie, a biographical drama about US physicist Robert Oppenheimer, opened in India last week, and was co-written by its director, Oscar winner Christopher Nolan.

In the movie, one section features a love scene between Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, and his lover Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh. During the scene, Murphy recites a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, which has been called “The Song of God,” and is considered one of the holiest texts of Hindu scripture.

The scene, however, has angered many in India.

Uday Mahurkar, a senior official at the Indian government’s Central Information Commission, wrote to Nolan saying that the scene makes "a scathing attack on Hinduism."

"We do not know the motivation and logic behind this unnecessary scene on life of a scientist. But this is a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus, rather it amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community and almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces," he said in his letter.

"We urge, on behalf of billion Hindus and timeless tradition of lives being transformed by revered Geeta, to do all that is needed to uphold dignity of their revered book and remove this scene from your film across world."

He added: "Should you choose to ignore this appeal it would be deemed as a deliberate assault on Indian civilisation."

Vinod Bansal, spokesperson for the hardline Hindu organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said the scene has hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community.

"The way sentiments are being hurt is very concerning," he said. "The makers of the movie should apologize to the people."

He also criticized the Indian Central Board of Film Certification for giving clearance to a movie containing such a scene.

- Call for boycott, questions about certification

In India, many users have tweeted with the hashtag #BoycottOppenheimer. The movie is doing "extremely well" at the box office, according to local broadcaster India Today.

The quote in question from the Gita was in fact cited by Oppenheimer, in connection with his emotions from seeing a nuclear test, but the setting the film uses for the quote is apparently fiction.

Local media also reported that India's Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur has sought an explanation from the Central Board of Film Certification, which clears movies before release. The board has been rated by the board as U/A- caution to give parental guidance for under 12.

Thakur asked the CBFC officials to get the filmmakers to remove the specific scene, while action could be taken against those who cleared the movie, local English daily The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

It is not the first time that leaders in India and people from right-wing Hindu groups have accused movie makers of hurting religious sentiments.

In 2021, Tandav, an Amazon web series, faced cases for promoting enmity and causing public mischief.

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