November 18, 2007

bollywood moviestars worship - part 1

india, the country of philosophy, spirituality & religion; according to friedrich max muller (a german philologist and orientalist), the study of religion is incomplete unless it is studied with reference to india:
take religion and where can you study its true origin, its natural growth, and its inevitable decay better than in india, the home of brahmanism, the birth place of buddhism and the refuge of zoroastrianism even now the matter of new superstitions - and why not, in the future the regenerate child of the purest faith, if only purified from the dust of nineteen centuries?

max muller, 'india what can it teach us.' p.13.

india is also the cradle of hinduism, one of the world's most ancient religions, a colorful religion with a vast gallery of gods and goddesses. hindus could have as gods legendary divinities or as miserable creatures as rats & build temples for them. in this tradition and as a modern manifestation of it even bollywood stars have their idolaters in india!

a film scenario bring up a new divinity!

let's start with a rather old example taken from an article on goddess worship,

maha devi, is a powerful hindu goddess who could triumph over evil demoniac powers that even the gods (like brahma and vishnu) were powerless against. traditions in india assert that maha devi has the ability to manifest herself in infinitely many ways but that she is nevertheless one, one of these manifestations was the appearance of the goddess "santoshi maa" in the 1975 movie "jai santoshi maa"; of course before the film few (if any) people had ever heard of this goddess - but she became a major religious figure when the movie became a hit.

her devotees insist that she has always existed, and that there is no essential difference between her and other hindu goddesses. it is said that during public showings of the film, the theatre is:
... transformed into a kind of temple, and the act of seeing the film is often taken as an act of worship.

stanley kurtz, all the mothers are one: hindu india and the cultural reshaping of psychoanalysis, 18

do gods die?

the second case relates to riots in the city of bangalore following the death by heart attack of the south indian film actor rajkumar in april 2006; bangalore's streets on the 12th and 13th of the same month turned into a stage for tear gas, gunfire, burning cars and bloody street clashes between the police and 60 thousand of rajkumar's supporters. eight persons were dead including a policeman who got killed and strung up by outraged fans attempting to gain entry into their hero's funeral.

a little precision, the use of the term "bollywood" is inaccurate when talking about the films produced in the south of india, bollywood movies are those hindi-language films produced in mumbai in the north.
rajkumar was the face, hero and defender of the regional cultural identity. his rise coincided with the assertion of kannada language and culture, at a time when indian film was dominated by films from the north. he was an elder statesman and father figure who carried a burden much greater than that of film star. he represented a culture under siege.

stephen hughes, Indian film and culture scholar at the university of london's school of oriental and african studies.

end of the first part ... second part starts here