As a mushroom cloud of controversy threatens to overwhelm Oppenheimer‘s run in India, social media as always offers an insight into public opinion. A sex scene featuring a line from the Bhagavad Gita has caused official outrage with Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur pulling up the Censor Board for passing the scene and demanding it be deleted. The scene that has caused offence shows protagonist Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, in an intimate moment with Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh; she opens his copy of the Gita and asks him to read from which he does.
The line of scripture used in the scene is one that is famously associated with Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” He is believed to have quoted it while watching the atom bomb he created detonate in a test. Exactly why director Christopher Nolan opted to use it in a sex scene in the film is unclear – there seems to be no good reason other than creative licence.
On Twitter, folks are mostly baffled, their outrage perhaps tempered perhaps by the reverence that Christopher Nolan commands among Indian fans. As a tweet points out, the filmmaker behind movies like Inception, Memento and the Dark Knight trilogy is not known for sex scenes. Some tweets called the placement of the Gita quote in a sex scene “awkward and avoidable” and “absolutely unnecessary.” The general consensus is that this Nolan creative choice makes little sense.
See some of the tweets here:
Remember when I noted that most Americans only know the Gita from Oppenheimer’s quote? Turns out he reads it in Nolan’s only-ever sex scene.
— Shava Nerad – @firstname.lastname@example.org 🌻 (@shava23) July 25, 2023
Alright so if Christopher Nolan’s research can confirm that Oppenheimer read Bhagvad Gita while being intimate, it is okay and he should share the proof.
But using creative liberty to disrespect a holy text is not what I expect from a legendary director @OppenheimerFilm.
— Janamejay (@Janamejay_B) July 24, 2023
#Oppenheimer is a magnificent watch. Excellent narrative and acting from all fronts. #CillianMurphy and @RobertDowneyJr are the standouts here. You leave the theater shaken and stirred. The Gita scene was absolutely unnecessary though.
— Joydeep Bharadwaj Hazarika (@hazarikatweets) July 24, 2023
Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist, found inspiration in the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian scripture. As he witnessed the power of the atomic bomb, he famously quoted, ‘Now I’ve become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ But definitely not as shown in #OppenheimerFilm
— Rishabh Gupta (@Rishabh38977761) July 24, 2023
Nolan did this wrong. Oppenheimer recited the Gita mostly in situations of anxiety and guilt of making this deadly weapon, reminding him of performing his duty, not while having sex. This does not even make sense! #Oppeneheimer
— souvikhaldar.eth (@s0uvikhaldar) July 24, 2023
In my opinion if Nolan has shot the Bhagavad Gita scene during fbi interrogation when Oppenheimer tells about Gita and it’s teachings it can be a memorable scene but his choice in this movie is awkward and totally avoidable. #Oppenheimer
— sam sudeep (@samsudeep93) July 24, 2023
Over the weekend, Uday Mahurkar, Information Commissioner with the government of India shared this press release from the ‘Save Culture Save India Foundation.’
MOVIE OPPENHEIMER’S ATTACK ON BHAGWAD GEETA
Press Release of Save Culture Save India Foundation
Date: July 22, 2023
It has come to the notice of Save Culture Save India Foundation that the movie Oppenheimer which was released on 21st July contains scenes which make a scathing… pic.twitter.com/RmJI0q9pXi
— Uday Mahurkar (@UdayMahurkar) July 22, 2023
Oppenheimer, which has received glowing reviews from critics and will likely generate Oscar buzz, documents the making of the first nuclear weapons. In addition to Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh, the stacked cast features Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr and Matt Damon. Oppenheimer opened last Friday and made over Rs 48 crore in its first weekend in Indian cinemas.
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