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The god of bombastic

In his latest outing, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh plays a Rajput warrior who fights aliens using Vedic tools.

In his latest outing, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh plays a Rajput warrior who fights aliens using Vedic tools.  

Spiritual leader and filmmaker Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is back with the third instalment in the Messenger of God series

With a cavalcade in tow and flanked by an army of bodyguards, matching up to the spiritual leader’s Z-level security status, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh marches into a suburban five-star hotel room. Better known for his rather hirsute personality, Singh now sports a clean look, complete with waxed arms and a sleeveless T-shirt to show them off. Singh has, however, retained his beard. “Bhagwaan ne de di, humne rakh li (God gave me this beard, so I kept it),” he says on being questioned about it.

His white sleeveless T-shirt is splattered with red lines and layered with a generous amount of glitter. His black, body-hugging trousers and velvety shoes of the same colour have shiny little buttons embossed on them. He designs his own clothes, Singh informs us, in life and in his movies. But this is just one of the 30 roles he played in the making of the third edition of his viral sensation MSG The Warrior — Lion Heart.

Singh is the popular head of the socio-spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda, which claims on its website to have over 50 million followers worldwide and 40 ashrams nationwide.

Not new to controversy and scandal, the leader most famously wore a dastar like Guru Gobind Singh in 2007 for an advertisement, triggering protests from the Sikh community. Despite tendering an apology that was eventually accepted by the Akal Takht last year, Singh has been attacked on numerous occasions, leaving several of his followers injured.

Fighting lustful aliens

Singh’s latest film, which was shot in 25 days, releases this Friday, and will see the spiritual leader play a fictional character for the first time. In his previous two films, Singh played himself, sparking numerous protests. This time, he plays a Rajput warrior, and will be seen going back in time and fighting aliens using Vedic tools — all this in a bid to “save the dignity of Indian women and to promote women empowerment”.

Ironically, the only time you prominently see a woman in the film’s trailer is when Singh’s love interest is giving him a foot massage. “Par film main chaar yodha main se doh ladkiya hain (Of the four warriors in the film, two are women),” says a defensive Singh, who notably has a series of criminal cases against him, including charges of sexual abuse and castration of cult members. He says they are conspiracies started by “the drug mafia”.

Since the film aims at promoting gender equality, we ask the spiritual leader his opinion on homosexuality, which is widely opposed by spiritual gurus in India. Singh takes a pause, shakes his head and says gay women and men can change themselves through willpower, which can be brought about by chanting “guru mantras”, while referring to homosexuality as a “bad habit”.

Tackling the trolls

It’s not a wonder then that Singh is the butt of a barrage of jokes on social media. Be it for vociferously advocating against non-vegetarian food, or for bringing down a UFO with an arrow in the trailer of his latest film, Singh has risen to an enviable notoriety online. The trailer of MSG The Warrior — Lion Heart garnered its fair share of laughs and mocking comments, but Singh remains unaffected. “Jo youth mazaak uda raha hai, ho sakta hai ki woh drug mafia se jude ho, ya drug mafia unhe uksa raha ho (The youth who mock me could either be part of a drug mafia or are instigated by one),” reasons Singh, who strongly believes his active campaigning against drug abuse has attracted unforgiving wrath from the drug mafia in Haryana and Punjab.

Produced by Hakikat Entertainment, Singh has claimed credit for not just acting in MSG The Warrior — Lion Heart (in a triple role), but also for directing, script writing, composing music, singing, and designing costumes, among two dozen other roles. Bursting with curiosity, we ask Singh about his expertise in single-handedly performing all of these tasks. Singh proudly responds that he was never formally trained in any aspect of filmmaking. but after he meditated for over a decade, he was blessed with an overload of talent. “Sant hokar main jhoot nahi bolta (Being a saint I don’t lie)”, he declares.

Upon prodding further, Singh admits that he merely oversees these tasks, while the work is done by a set of professionals, all of whom are credited with the tag ‘insaan’ behind their names, as done to all of his followers as well.

The MSG effect

As part of his philanthropic endeavours, Singh promises to donate a part of his earnings from his new release for stem cell research. He claims to have previously donated Rs. 40 lakh to start a skin bank for acid attack victims. With the earnings of his first film, the spiritual leader says he steamrolled research on thalassaemia.

But he feels that his biggest contribution towards society is through his films and their social messages. We chase that with a prompt query: “How successful has that been?” The result, he says, is apparent in the dramatic increase in youths attending his satsangs. He aims to cure drug addicts in his gatherings by making them chant mantras, and after the release of his first film, he claims to have cured more than 25,000 such youngsters.

Taking on Hollywood

Singh hopes to continue altering the minds of the youth through his movies, and this time by upping the ante. He says his upcoming film, titled Online Gurukul, will be on par with well-known Hollywood productions. “Jo VFX kar rahe hai yeh film main, unhone ‘Lords of Ring’ and Spiderman 2 ka VFX kiya hai” (the person who has done VFX for Lord of the Rings and Spiderman 2 has done it for my film too),” says Singh, adding in typical hyperbole that the visual effects in his film will be better than both the Hollywood films combined.

Apart from questionable promotional tactics, Singh’s blasphemous positioning in MSG: The Messenger and MSG-2: The Messenger caused violent protests for hurting the sentiments of Sikh and tribal groups, leading to a rising chorus for a ban on both the films. But Singh says this time around, since he is playing a character and not a guru, he got an easy clearance from the Censor Board.

Skirting all controversies, the spiritual-leader-turned-actor is now looking forward to the premiere of MSG The Warrior — Lion Heart.

The screening will take place in Delhi and over 10,000 people have been extended an invitation. But here’s the catch: only half the film will be screened. This is in order to send out a strong message against piracy, in tandem with Singh’s beliefs. As bizarre as this may be, at least this time around the solution isn’t all about chanting mantras or blaming the drug mafia.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 1:23:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/The-god-of-bombastic/article15159182.ece

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