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The Love Guru: Nothing To Laugh At!

This Comedy Isn’t Funny, But Don't Take It Seriously!

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The Love Guru: Nothing To Laugh At!
Paramount Pictures
Mike Myers’ mocking comedy 'The Love Guru' opened in the United States amidst protests by Hindus that the film is offensive to Hinduism. Paramount Pictures requested the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) to view the film just hours before its release. 'The Love Guru' is "vulgar but not Hinduphobic", said Hindus attending this special preview.

About the Movie

The film depicts Mike Myers as the Guru Pitka, an American raised in India to missionary parents, who establishes an ashram in California seeking fortune as a self-help expert. The story follows the character as he seeks fame in bringing together a hockey player and his estranged wife. The film is portrayed as a satirical spoof of self-help coaches, referring to Deepak Chopra several times, but the film's main character is clearly inspired by Hindu spiritual leaders from India gleaned from the attire and mannerisms of Myers' character.

Reactions from the Hindu American Community

"The film was vulgar, crude and, in the opinion of many of our attendees, too often tasteless in its puerile choice of humor," said Aseem Shukla, member of the Foundation's Board of Directors. "Very few of the Hindus viewing the film, however, found it overtly anti-Hindu or mean-spirited, indeed no Hindu or Sanskrit terms beyond 'guru' or 'ashram' are ever used in the film. But given the costumes and overall concept of the film, Paramount would have done well to issue a disclaimer in the opening sequence that the characters and events are not based on Hindu spiritual masters."

Deepak Chopra's Views

New Age guru, Deepak Chopra, who himself appeared briefly in the movie, said there is nothing objectionable in 'The Love Guru', which could be a cause of protests. "It is a fun-thrilled movie for American audience," Dr. Chopra told NDTV. But he may not have found anything in it to endorse it proudly. After all, who knows the real meaning of 'guru' better than him?

According to a Survey

After the prescreening, viewers met to fill out a special survey and offer comments and criticisms. In their opinion, popular media's coverage of Hinduism does not accurately reflect the belief systems and practices of Hindus, and most agreed that the film will be widely seen as a satire of a Hindu character--though this is never overtly stated in the film. But the same majority of respondents denied that the average American viewer of the film will assume that the "teachings" of the Myers character are based on precepts of Hinduism. Take the Survey.

A Mockery of Hindu Philosophy

Mike Myers has done this before. In April 1999, he posed for Vanity Fair as a cartoonish Hindu deity, even as Newsweek declared "Maybe it's time Hollywood gave up the Hinduism thing". (See article) "This film was so over-the-top as a satire, that it could not be mistaken with real Hindu traditions," said Shyam Shivramakrishnan, a University of Minnesota doctoral student and HAF member attending the screening. "Those who ridicule Hindus based on this film would be using the movie as a pretext to exhibit pre-formed biases- it is unlikely to create new ones." Many expressed unease that since widespread understanding of Hinduism and its core teachings is so limited, this film does nothing to promote tolerance and pluralism, and may reinforce widely held negative and exotic stereotypes of Hindus and their spiritual leaders.

His Karma is Huge & Dharma is Drama!

The Guru Pitka has developed a system for healing emotional pain called "D.R.A.M.A." which stands for Distraction, Regression, Adjustment, Maturation and Action. That's D.R.A.M.A.! The Guru Pitka's teachings include 'Mini Sutras' that are nothing more than fortune cookie aphorisms borrowed from here and there:
  • When love goes wrong, nothing goes right
  • First reduce the greed, then reduce the need
  • Go from 'nowhere' to 'now' 'here'
  • An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind
  • There's no failure, only early attempts at success

No Reason to Smile

Does it make you feel proud when the world's oldest religion is mocked at in such a manner? Sure, no one takes such comedies seriously, but as Hindus, we are not amused! Such ridiculous caricatures of Hindus and Indians can mislead many, especially the present generation of Hindus being brought up outside a Hindu society, into believing that Hinduism is just fun and game. The Wall Street Journal says: “The road taken by ‘The Love Guru’ could hardly be lower, and leads nowhere.” The New York Times calls it "downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.” It's neither a comedy nor a satire, as The Washington Post says, "Satire seems a strong word for something so insignificant.” According to aintitcool.com, “With this film, Myers puts a shotgun in the mouth of comedy and kills it." And in the process he has managed to confuse the young and the impressionable. This ain’t cool!

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