The flashy guru’s feature length (and then some at 3+ hours) film, MSG: Messenger of God has been refused certification by the CBFC, India’s censor board. The censor board decided against certification after coming to the decision that MSG is not a feature film, but an advertisement for SGRRSJI himself and his organization. When the film was first rejected, the MSG team appealed, but the CBFC stood firm on their position and referred them to the appeal board, who now has the power to potentially overrule them, though that seems unlikely.
With MSG‘s rejection by the CBFC, the film is now ineligible to be played in theaters or on TV in India, and without that audience, an international release is not going to happen either. The news comes as a further blow to SGRRSJI, who is in the middle of being investigated over charges that he had 400 of his male acolytes castrated among other dubious acts. SGRRSJI’s followers are not deterred just yet, and in fact he has supposedly nearly completed shooting a sequel.
The controversial guru, who leads the Dera Sacha Sauda charitable organization, is one of many such gurus to whom many Indians pledge allegiance across the country. While secular India is growing in response to the rapid globalization of the country, the old stereotype of the ashram where ascetics practice is still alive and well.
MSG had already begun a massive international publicity campaign when the CBFC’s rejection hit them and now they are reeling. India has no shortage of religious filmmaking, and in fact, in decades past devotional films were big business, however, the difference with MSG appears to be idea that SGRRSJI is playing himself in the film, with his followers referring to him as Bhagwan (God). It’s a thin line that MSG is treading, and the CBFC’s decision to send the film to the appellate board shows, in no uncertain terms, that they are uninterested in certifying recruitment films. MSG supposedly shows the guru performing miracles as himself, which is giving the notoriously high-strung Indian religious community hives.
One thing is for certain, if the appellate board does reverse the CBFC’s decision, MSG will do far more business than it ever would have without the controversy. We shall see.
In the mean time, we’ll leave you with some promotional materials for the film and the guru’s live performance of his hit single “Love Charger”.