Movie Review - MSG: The Messenger of God

Reuters/February 13, 2015

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

Watching most Bollywood movies calls for a healthy suspension of disbelief, but if you dare make the trip to see the wonder that is “MSG: The Messenger of God”, make sure to leave behind every ounce of common sense or sanity that you possess, and submit yourself to the events unfolding on screen.

This is a movie meant for those who already believe that the protagonist, who is also the real-life spiritual leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, is God incarnate. If it hoped to convert others into believing so, it does a very bad job of it.

In the movie, the pot-bellied, hirsute hero who wears the most psychedelic clothes known to mankind can turn bullets into a crown, swords into rose petals, produce electricity from the palm of his hand; and while doing all this, gambol in meadows with bunnies as women dance in the background. Rajnikanth can take a back seat.

MSG is an unabashed propaganda film, one that never tires of telling us that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan (as the hero of this film is known) is God’s own child who has been sent to earth to rid it of evils such as the drug and flesh trade. It is also a film that bestows all kinds of powers on the leader of the religious sect that claims to have over 50 million followers and is headquartered in the northern state of Haryana.

Forty-seven-year-old Singh, who supports the ruling BJP party, is credited with numerous acts of goodwill in the film – from starting the cleanliness campaign in Indian cities (a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi), to asking for the transgender community to be recognized as the ‘third gender’ (The Supreme Court made a ruling on this last year based on a PIL filed by an NGO, not by Singh).

Numerous attempts are made to kill him, but predictably they all fail, thanks to the godman’s super-human powers. The ‘Messenger of God’ can read people’s minds, revive the dying, rap to songs that go: “I forget you never ever, without you my life never ever.”  Accompanying these songs are action sequences which would make the special effects in Alif Laila seem world-class.

Towards the end, after he has converted even the most hardened suicide bomber, Singh delivers a long sermon about his deeds to a teeming crowd of supporters, and invites all those who want to do good to join the Dera Sacha Sauda. Subtlety is not one of the things you’ll find in the film.

This is a movie that is so bad, it’s good. It is horrifying and hilarious at the same time. So what do you get out of it? Three hours of disbelief plastered on your face that you cannot wipe off, no matter how hard you try. Go watch it if you want to get astounded.

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