Bollywood Film Under Attack for “Om” Song

Staying with Uttar Pradesh, the Guardian carries a short AP report about some unhappy Hindu holy men (link added):

Dozens of Hindu holy men in saffron robes torched CDs and posters for a new Bollywood film in northern India yesterday, saying one of the movie’s songs has language offensive to the faith and should be banned.

Some of the holy men have asked a court in Allahabad, a Hindu religious hub in Uttar Pradesh state, to pull the film from theatres.

…The film, Strings, is about a British man who tries to learn Indian spirituality by joining the sacred Kumbh festival.

Further details were provided by IndiaFM News Bureau a few days ago:

The song called ‘Mantra’ originally is a poem written by Baba Nagarjun 1969. It was however, banned for sometime in 1977…The lyrics though controversial, speak about the drawbacks in the democratic set-up.

Baba Nagarjuna was an Indian writer and convert to Buddhism and Marxism who died in 1998; his obituary in the Indian Tribune can be read here. The song contains the sacred word “Om“, which has caused particular upset; it can be heard on the website of composer Zubeen Garg.

The controversy will no doubt boost interest in a film which reviewers have found lacklustre. From IndiaFM:

The problem with STRINGS is that it rests on a paper-thin plot and the backdrop of the Maha Kumbh is of no significance to the storyline…STRINGS is more for the pseudo-critics than an ordinary moviegoer. It eyes the Festival circuit mainly, not even the multiplex crowd…None of the performances are worth noting…a poor show.

The New Kerala concurs:

The journey is at the most a half-baked vapid attempt to capture the chants and visuals of the Kumbh Mela in a presentable package.

The film fails miserably in keeping the faith alive. It instead strangulates the most cherished aspects of the Hindu religion, turns it ineffectual and weans our attention to scenes that are woven into awkward pastiches of spirituality… so hackneyed that the film could qualify as the stalest spiritual search since the invention of time.

IndiaFM describes the actual plot (square brackets in original):

Warren Hastings [Adam Bedi], a British youth, arrives in Nasik with Maya [Sandhya Mridul], an urban Indian girl. Warren is plagued by a sort of unfulfilled quest, for an understanding of the mysticism of India, beyond his realms of imagination.

Maya puts up Warren at Krishna’s [Tannishtha Chatterjee] residence. Krishna is the only child of a temple priest [Vineet Kumar], a widower. Warren and Krishna soon realize that they love each other and one day, Krishna sheds her inhibitions and succumbs to her feelings. In the end, Warren and Krishna realize that a deep bond has developed between them.

A short bio of the film’s director, Sanjay Jha, can be seen here.