- The use of a sacred Hindu scripture during the “Oppenheimer” sex scene is sparking outrage among India’s right wing.
- Reading from the Bhagavad Gita occurs during an intimate scene featuring Cillian Murphy’s Oppenheimer and Florence Pugh’s Jean Tatlock.
- India’s Information Commissioner condemned the scene and called it “a scathing attack on Hinduism.”
The use of a sacred Hindu text during a sex scene in “Oppenheimer” is drawing backlash from India’s right-wing groups.
The historical drama, directed by Christopher Nolan, tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist known as the father of the atomic bomb. The film stars Cillian Murphy in the titular role, with Florence Pugh playing his lover, Jean Tatlock.
“And now I am become death, destroyer of worlds,” Oppenheimer says as they resume sex.
The use of the Bhagavad Gita during the sex scene has caused an uproar among right-wing groups in India, with one politician demanding the scene be removed globally.
Uday Mahurkar, India’s Information Commissioner, called the scene “a scathing attack on Hinduism,” per a statement that he posted on Twitter on Saturday.
“A divine gift to human civilisation by Bhagwan Sri Krishna, the Bhagwad Geeta, is one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism,” Mahurkar said in the tweet. “One is perplexed as to how the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) could approve the movie with this scene.”
In an open letter to Nolan posted on Twitter on the same day as the previous tweet, Mahurkar goes on to say that the scene “amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community and almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces.”
He calls for Nolan to remove the scene from the film around the world: “Should you choose to ignore this appeal it would be deemed as a deliberate assault on Indian civilisation.”
Mahurkar’s tweets have sparked a flurry of replies. While some support his stance, others think his claims are blown out of proportion.
A Twitter user responded by saying that the scene “merely dramatized the perversity of Oppenheimer,” and that “no one in their right mind who saw a 20 second reference to a Sanskrit verse will take it a slur on Hinduism.”
Despite that, India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur is looking to take action against the Central Board of Film Certification for failing to “safeguard the interests of the public,” The Times of India reported.
Apart from the sex scene, the quote from the Bhagavad Gita is repeated several times throughout the film. Oppenheimer was deeply interested in the scripture, and it had, in part, helped him make sense of his actions.
Murphy told Indian film critic Sucharita Tyagi in an interview last week that he had read the Bhagavad Gita in preparation for his role.
“I thought it was an absolutely beautiful text — very inspiring,” Murphy said. Referring to Oppenheimer, Murphy added: “I think it was a consolation to him, he kind of needed it and it provided him a lot of consolation, all his life.”
This is not the first time that India’s right-wing groups have taken offense over a scene.
In 2020, some Hindu nationalist politicians were outraged at a kissing scene between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man at a Hindu temple in the Netflix series “A Suitable Boy,” per CNN.
Universal Pictures and India’s Central Board of Film Certification did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.