If religion is the opium of the masses, godmen are the peddlers selling it on your street corner.
You might have heard about the paradox of gospel rock. While rock is the angsty voice of anti-establishment and rebellion, gospel is the ultimate happy system-embracing worship music. And Gospel rock is the subversive use of rock to package prayer.
The latest form to be subverted in pop culture is the stoner film genre.
Since the Censors and the culture police won’t allow a film that promotes drugs directly, directors Jeetu Arora and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh embrace the form of the stoner film, rather cheekily and subversively, to package the “truth” about His Highness (High is what you’ll feel through the film) and his run-ins with the drug mafia.
Stoner films are usually slacker films that tell you to smoke the peace pipe and laugh out silly in the middle of all the madness around you. MSG: The Messenger is an anti-drug stoner film that will please both who don’t want to do drugs and those who are on drugs, especially the latter.
Since the 30-second disclaimer insists this is a work of fiction, we must strictly evaluate only what’s on screen because any resemblance to any real people is co-incidental.
Think Punjabi Pineapple Express Man. Since the Hindi word for Man is Insan , it’s only fitting that this bizarre stoner hero, nay superhero, is not referred to as Spider-Man, Superman, Batman or Iron Man, but as Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan (Marvel Comics would have considered buying this except that the baap of What the Fatherness, Daddy Insan, is a marvel himself).
Yes, as all the girls call him Pitaji, an obvious throwback to the naughty phrase Who’s Your Daddy, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh plays a clownish Baba, more Sehgal than Saint, always ready to brandish a paedo-smile (Gandalf has company and black is the new white), sporting fancy pants possibly stolen from a travelling circus, and assorted larger-than-life toy replicas of cars and bikes. Imagine Speed done on a cycle (a cycle with a bomb and no brakes — mind blown?) or Ghost Rider taking an aerial route on his Harley towards a hot air balloon to defuse a bomb! Yes, that Lingaa climax on drugs. Epic was a word invented ahead of its time just so that we today know how to describe MSG .
MSG is the kind of surreal stoner spectacle with blinding colour and colour-blind bling that would make Baz Luhrmann light up a joint and give up films forever just so he could watch MSG on a loop till the sequel releases.
Because there’s so much going on in these 197 minutes of a mind-altering, giggle-generating, posterior-numbing trip, you can’t keep track of it all, especially the many talents of its leading man. The “Rock Papa” has rocked (stone is small, rock is big; hence rocked is a higher form of being stoned) in front of the camera (as actor, singer, dancer, wrestler, belly-dancer, cycle-rider, gilli-danda re-inventor, potter, gas-fighter, arm-hair farmer to name a few), behind the camera (as director, cinematographer, lyricist, composer, singer, costume designer, editor) and even inside the camera (don’t ask how, Baba can do anything, except use his yoga prowess to get rid of his pot-belly). The bad guys just don’t know what to do with him.
There’s also a Breaking Bad tribute in the middle of all this Insan -ity (a bald contract killer is named Mike) and an effective, suspenseful, subverted feminist spin on Reservoir Dogs (One of the girls in the ashram is a rat and there’s no way you can guess which one) that keeps us glued to the screen till the very end.
It’s only fitting that you watch MSG like James Franco, with eyes half closed, fully stoned. Jai Babaji Ki Beauty.