Christopher Nolan‘s latest film, ‘Oppenheimer,’ a sprawling biographical drama on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, has garnered positive reviews since its release in India. However, a particular scene in the movie has ignited a social media uproar, with users expressing their displeasure and demanding the removal of the sequence.
The film centers around J. Robert Oppenheimer, the renowned American theoretical physicist often referred to as ‘the father of the atom bomb.’ Oppenheimer had a profound connection to the ancient Sanskrit scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, having learned the language and finding inspiration in its verses.
One of the most pivotal moments in Oppenheimer’s life occurred on July 16, 1945, when he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Following this event, he famously recollected a verse from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” This verse, reflecting on the immense power and destructive capability of nuclear weaponry, held deep meaning for Oppenheimer.
However, it is precisely this verse that has sparked controversy in Nolan’s film. In a scene involving Oppenheimer and psychologist Jean Tatler, portrayed by Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh, respectively, the characters engage in a sexual encounter. During the scene, Tatler asks Oppenheimer to read a verse from a book resembling the Bhagavad Gita, with the infamous line, “Now, I am become Death, destroyer of the world.”
The portrayal of the Bhagavad Gita in a sexual context has not been well-received by a section of social media users, who consider it disrespectful and offensive. The film’s rating by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in India has further fueled the controversy. The CBFC granted ‘Oppenheimer’ a U/A rating, indicating that it is suitable for viewers above 13 years, after certain scenes were cut to reduce the film’s length.
In contrast, the movie has been rated ‘R-Restricted’ in the US, requiring viewers under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. This marks Christopher Nolan’s first R-rated film.
As the debate rages on social media, some users have called for a boycott of ‘Oppenheimer,’ expressing their disappointment at the handling of the sacred scripture. Concerns have been raised about the lack of sensitivity and accuracy in Hollywood’s depiction of Hinduism and its religious texts.
The controversy has divided opinions among viewers. While some Hindu audiences appreciate the inclusion of the Bhagavad Gita in the film as a reflection of Oppenheimer’s intellectual journey, others find the specific scene in which the verse is recited during a sexual encounter deeply inappropriate.
Amidst the heated discussions, actor Cillian Murphy, who plays Oppenheimer in the film, had previously praised the Bhagavad Gita during the movie’s promotional campaign. He acknowledged finding the text beautiful and inspiring, which indicates the filmmakers’ intention to respect and highlight Oppenheimer’s connection to the scripture.
As the film continues to draw attention and stir emotions, the controversy surrounding the Bhagavad Gita scene raises important questions about the portrayal of religious and cultural elements in cinema. The incident serves as a reminder of the significance of cultural sensitivity and accuracy in storytelling, especially when dealing with revered and sacred texts.
‘Oppenheimer’ has received acclaim for its portrayal of the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, but it has also courted controversy with its handling of the Bhagavad Gita. As audiences engage in passionate discussions, it remains to be seen how the filmmakers and producers respond to the criticism and whether any changes will be made to the contentious scene. The incident serves as a vital reminder of the responsibility of filmmakers to handle cultural and religious content with utmost respect and sensitivity.