Reviews

MSG: The Messenger review - A test of devotion

A scene from the movie

A scene from the movie   | Photo Credit: 14dmcmsg1





Presented in the garb of a feature film, this is essentially a long, very long, promotional video of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan and the causes that his spiritual organisation Dera Sachha Sauda espouses. Alcohol de-addiction, blood donation, gender equality, rights of transgenders, uplift of sex workers, national integration, Singh stands for many causes including the cleanliness drive that has recently emerged as the pet subject of the Prime Minister.

But if you are devoted to cinema, the film doesn’t hold. It remains a string of messages loosely strewn together with songs and stunts spanning over 197 minutes. You need to be a true disciple of Singh to last this long. The motivation seems to be to generate a myth around the personality of the self-styled guru, who has a considerable following in parts of Punjab and Haryana.

There is very little about the making of Singh as an influential guru. He is presented as a modern-day saint, who descended through a flash of light to save humanity from the ills that plague society. There are loose references equating him with Ram and Krishna and then he is positioned as a youth icon, a rock star who can charge the lives of the youngsters through his Rock and Rap-based songs. He has even invented a game which is a cross between gulli dunda and baseball!

Singh might know many things and we are told that he has handled 12 departments in filmmaking, but his screen presence lacks the magic that he has brazenly woven in the script for himself. As for direction, self-aggrandisement drips from every shot. The stunt scenes become unintentionally funny because Singh doesn’t show the flexibility to execute them. If he wants to make it appear effortless, it doesn’t go with his claim that he is just a human being. Of course, he has the confidence to carry off garish costumes, expose his hairy arms and hold the mike. Indeed, he is not trying to ‘act’ but all this doesn’t add up to an engaging film experience.

There are several instances when Singh is shown flaunting his miraculous powers and his huge following. At times, the film issues mild threats that his followers will go berserk if their guru, whom they call pitaji, is confronted. It gels with the film’s central theme, which involves an international conspiracy to eliminate Singh. Since he is playing himself, the line between fact and fiction is deliberately left blurry.

It would have been fine had Singh been cast as a character, or if an actor was playing him. Many actors have played larger-than-life characters with godly powers in the past, but here we have a real life person, who is facing serious charges, playing himself in the film. It promotes blind faith because he not only performs improbable stunts to save his followers but is also shown to have the power to read people’s minds. The film opens with a disclaimer in English which says that it is a piece of fiction and that the lead character doesn’t have miraculous powers. It should have been in Hindi and Gurumukhi as well, for most of the followers of the self-styled guru are proficient in these languages.

It might still work for the devotees of Singh, but the rest can go by his advice, “Never Ever”.

Bottomline: Nothing more than a tacky promotional feature for a spiritual organisation.

Genre: Drama

Director: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Jeetu Arora

Cast: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, Flora Saini, Jaishree Soni, Daniel Kaleb

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 9:10:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/msg-the-messenger-review-a-test-of-devotion/article6891780.ece

Next Story