Copyright 2001 The Times of India, All Rights
[ December 10th 2001 ]
Pictures' recent release Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
which demonises Hindu Gods is yet another example
of stereotyping of Hinduism by Hollywood, according
to a report in Times of India. Expectedly, the
film has drawn criticism from Hindu organisations
in LA who have threatened to sue the producers
if the offending portion is not expurgated.
partly at the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia,
the film shows statues of Hanuman becoming demons
and attacking the heroine of the film. Croft,
the heroine played by Angelina Jolie, kills the
demons with her guns. "Hollywood has always thrived
on stereotypes. But Lara Croft is not even an
intelligent way of demonising. It is sheer stupidity.
So I don't get offended by what they portray stupidly,"
says director Shyam Benegal.
stereotyping of Hinduism by Hollywood goes back
to 1939 when the film Gunga Din portrayed Hindus
as bloodthirsty "thugs" who worship Goddess Kali
and offer her human sacrifices in the presence
of an insane Hindu priest. "I know how stupidly
they demonised Gandhi (in Gunga Din) who was fighting
the British in those days. By the way, it was
a British film, not from Hollywood," Benegal corrects.
of the Hollywood films which have depicted Hinduism
outrageously include The Party, Indiana Jones
and the Temple of Doom, The Rains of Ranchipur,
and Eyes Wide Shut, Thirteen Women and Holy Smoke.
The Party revolves around an Indian doctor named
Hrundi Bakhshi, who is depicted as a blithering
idiot who stumbles at every step. Played by Peter
Sellers, Dr Hrundi is the centre of all humour
throughout the film.
Spielberg's Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom
depicted Indians as barbarians who eat snakes,
bats and monkeys. It showed how the Indian Maharaja
offers his white guests snakes and bats as dinner
and monkey head as dessert. And Stanley Kubrick's
Eyes Wide Shut shows sexual orgies amid Sanskrit
chants.Interestingly, Indiana Jones and the Temple
of Doom became notorious for creating a new PG-13
rating (before it there were only PG and R ratings)
which meant that anyone below 13 could watch the
film only if he or she was accompanied by an adult.
of Ranchipur and The Party, which also portray
relationships between an Indian man and a white
woman, show how drooling Indian men are doomed.
Films like Thirteen Women and Holy Smoke show
gurus and sadhus seducing white women.Not surprisingly,
Hinduism and its symbols have been used by pop
divas like Madonna and Alanis Morisette who have
vulgarised bindi, menhdi, and sanskrit slokas.