'MSG - The Messenger' Review: An audacious PR vehicle!

'MSG - The Messenger' Review: An audacious PR vehicle!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Movie Title

'MSG - The Messenger' Review: An audacious PR vehicle!


Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and Jeetu Arora

Star Cast

Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan

It's quite tough to get over the beginning as you see the film’s writer-director-cinematographer-designer and lead actor Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan (SGRRSJI) singing a hip-hop number in a coat with lime-green fur, blingy sunglasses, a super-shiny jacket and what seems like a string of pearls jostling for space. This portly, middle-aged gent, with a benign smile and an even more innocuous voice, is the self-styled spiritual guru heading the Dera Sacha Sauda clan. He plays himself in the film.

As he lip-syncs, all you can hear is "You are my heartbeat". The rest of the lyrics, inaudible, pass by in a haze. In that one introductory song, we see our central protagonist do a sort of ramp walk, sit on a makeshift throne, and dance as computer-generated firecrackers burst over him. He has more costume changes than a Bollywood star, and most of his costumes are so over-the-top, they could make Govinda look minimalist.

Insan, who throughout the film claims to have a 5-crore following, speaks out and acts against all the possible ills in the world. From drug and alcohol addictions, to girls being forced into prostitution to thalassemia to terrorism. He positions himself as a spiritual messiah with god-like powers. So we see him perform stunts that could baffle Superman, raising a palm to absorb an electric shock, and stopping weapons mid-air with a hand gesture (like old-school Ramayana on TV) transforming them into a crown that floats and lands on his head!

Yup, modesty is not the guru's strongest suit. And that would have been fine, except that he is playing himself in the movie. And the disclaimer warns us that this is a work of fiction. But how does the audience separate the fluff from the fact in the event of a flamboyant spiritual head playing himself and performing miracles in a movie? It's very tricky terrain here.

For the film is relentlessly, tirelessly propagandist. It is a show-reel for SGRRSJI and the film has people call him a farishta (angel) and youth icon, while one character incredulously refers to him as god itself. One of his followers in the film sings him a "Papa the great" song, and he descends on his stage-show (called Rubaru Nights) in a hot air balloon with 'Rock-Star' written on it. A foreign media student appears in the film, who behaves like a love-struck pup, and says things like, "Can I make a documentary on you, please please please please please?" Whew, enough already!

Also it's belittling real, serious problems when we see SGRRSJI solve them in a jiffy, like miraculously producing water in a water-starved area.

The film gets even more outrageous in the second half as we are told that there is a threat to the guru's life. It turns briefly into a suspenseful drama where the film throws red-herrings our way and expects us to participate in the whodunit game.

The film takes a relatively progressive view towards several issues like respect for prostitutes, blood donation, rights of the third gender and cleanliness. In fact, the film brings forth an interesting perspective on street hygiene, saying that internal purity cannot survive in an unclean outer environment.

One would have appreciated this if it didn't come with an audaciously propagandist "film" that's more like an in-house documentary of, by and for SRGGSJI and his followers. The rest of us will be dazed while watching the film, and for a long time after.

Rating: One star

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