Shiv Sena leader makes film ‘Satya Sai Baba’
Posted by robertpriddy on November 28, 2014
UP-DATE: What must be very near to being India’s least successful film in recent years is the long heralded ‘Satya Sai Baba’ by Atman Films with Anup Jalota as a self-satisfied Bollywood and bowdlerised version of Sathya Sai Baba’s life and message. It appeared as a trailer review (8 mins. 15 secs, which was more than enough. Videos were to be found with ‘First Look Launch’ of the film, and it was claimed that in May 2014. Who knows where? Two years later, we are now told by The Asian Age that it will be released shortly. What the right-wing fanatical Shiv Sena has to do with it is anybody’s guess. Perhaps they bought it for a song. Previously I wrote:-
The Sai Baba imitator Anup Jalota talks in Hindi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LcCF0ZiGcI and apparently says “We made this film with zero percent pressure. I’ve known Baba for 50 years, I saw him, met him, went with him, I was so happy to make it with Baba’s blessings, I didn’t act, the director didn’t direct, it was all Baba; this film is like a meditation, we made a beautiful film…” It is of poor technical quality with major dropouts of colouring and missing sound track problems. As a former follower, I am almost sorry for the remaining devotees that their god should be so thoroughly destroyed filmatically. While Hollywood could distort reality and over-romanticise everything, this film has managed to pervert the “godman’s” extraordinary life and times into a gaping emptiness of false sentiment, ham acting, cloying schmaltz and superficial portrayal. The main actor Jalota looks like a pakora-fed version of Sai Baba with nothing much else but similar gestures, a somewhat dead presence with a voice (speaking Hindi rather than Telugu) hardly reminiscent of Sai Baba’s high-pitched tones. Some short clips of dancing with rows of houri like ‘devotees’ lined up before the Avatar – artificial and pseudo-sexy – in my time there could well have got them rounded up in the proper and correct ashram and hounded out unmercifully… at least during my times there up to 1998.
Former privileged long-term Prashanthi resident but now totally disaffected US devotee, Eileen Weed, comments on the film::-
“Wow – what hilarity! It is a wonder that this film was made with such a low budget that the ‘special effect’ miracles are laughably pathetic! The acting is stiff, the dancing weird, the dialogue necessarily full of cliches. Furthermore, the sound of the trailer seems to go out at 2:22 until the end. Where was the Trust with their massive finances to make it a testament to Divinity?” The actions of the ‘sb’ cannot help but show closely what sb did in real life: wave his hands to pretend to create objects, bless people, speak spiritual clichés, and not much else.”
That such commercial interests, totally unconvincing as regards spirituality should release this, is akin to tramping on the grave of Sai Baba. No doubt, Bollywood false acting has its many adherents among Indians nonetheless, but those who may like this live in a bubble of unreality far removed from the message Sathya Sai Baba said he wanted to convey. Judging by the trailer, to say that this film is a wooden turkey would be to show disrespect to the entire species of wooden turkey films. Sathya as a child is unconvincing and his mother is far too glam. The travesty continues with overacted parts as devotees. With all respects, had Sathya Sai Baba been so dull as shown, he could never have attracted anyone, at least certainly not from abroad. The only bits that ring true are the short clips taken from films and videos of the actual Sai Baba and devotees, mixed in to help out. Interestingly, only three Western devotees appear on the trailer – shown in the front row at darsan; all three Norwegian ladies who as leader in Norway I knew well for years, and all of whom left Sathya Sai Baba around year 2000 in sheer disgust due to his sex abuses!
The immediate mid-air materialisation miracles during the Vedic yagna ritual as contrived on film were never witnessed as such in the real events – sheer invention! Some outward shows of emotional ‘spirituality’ – beloved of so many Indians – could not even be compared to a Disney fantasy on a truly awful day. Fake wigs are in evidence – but then Sai Baba sometimes wore then too.
Not unexpectedly the film avoids the many hidden truths about the real Sathya Sai Baba and the gruesome and humiliating aspects of end of his life, drugged, starved down to ca. 30 kgs, kept alive on life support until satisfactory for propaganda and security. The trailer is now to be seen on YouTube (http://youtu.be/n_5QIyjCa6U?list=PLjLZwhxKjNfYMohlf09nZ3P-P0o6kglgI).
The film is not for foreign release, the paucity of non-ethnic foreigners ensures that. And where is the confabulating ex-millionaire Isaac Tigrett? Where is the Prashanthi Christmas procession and choir, or the classical David Bailey. What became of the armed security guards and their metal detector entrance gates? Guess why there is no mention of the great devotees Idi Amin, Bettino Craxi, Rolf Harris and other famous criminals? And are even the all-dancing-all-singing Professors Anil Kumar and G. Venkataraman missing? We shall see whether the film eventually becomes a roaring hit in India… in which case it would forever warn any normal person off the self-proclaimed Creator of the Universe and Deity of All Deities to reconsider his claimed omnipotence yet again.
A genuine and live film which shows Prashanthi Nilayam and Sathya Sai properly was the BBC’s documentary ‘The Secret Swami’ (see overview here and watch on-line here)