Let’s keep aside the censor board controversy behind MSG. Let’s keep aside the unsubtle self flagellating of Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan. MSG Messenger of God is finally in theaters – so is it worth the hype?
The answer is a resounding, deafening, back flipping, motorcycle riding, dove tossing, fireworks exploding, lion roaring, Deol screaming yes.
The problem with most desi films is that they’re neither genuinely good, or bad enough to be entertaining. We get a Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyun or a One Two Three every now and then but these gems too few and far in between. Step aside and make room for MSG – it’s the granddaddy of them all – the Nazar Suraksha Kawach of these gems. It is not just a film, but also a crash course on so-bad-it’s-good filmmaking, and a thesis on guilty pleasure entertainment.
The story is pretty simple – Saint Gurmeet is the Borat of India. Except that he’s real, dead serious about how amazing he is and also a rock star. Think Nithyananda crossed with Aerosmith.
Our Saint, playing himself, is the alpha male, chick magnet, sports superstar, Grand Panjadrum and Dear Leader of Dera Sacha Sauda, a religious sect dedicated to helping helpless people in need of help. People lovingly call him Pitaji and seek his help by chanting ‘Dhan Dhan Satguru tera hi asra’. The chant works just like in Captain Planet and Pitaji proceeds to heal the unhealable, treat the untreatable, rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts, rescue prostitutes and get them married, save poisoned victims’ lives and create wells for destitute farmers. He does all this using magic, of course. The local drug lord realizes that Pitaji’s rehabilitating and anti alcohol abilities could quash his business, and the film is built around his attempts to assassinate Pitaji.
Three fourths of this three and a half hour film is made up of Pitaji parading around in outrageous clothes and performing wondrous magic. He also constantly does things that make MSG a stoner’s paradise – like standing on a lion with flapping wings, or doing pushups between two buses that are draped in the national flag colors, or headrocking in a car named ‘We luv Sat Guru’, or shooting electric laser beams from his forehead. It’s like Saint Gurmeet sat down one night with his creative team with a kilo of the blue stuff from Breaking Bad.
How can one make a sword fight more awesome? By turning the incoming flying daggers into rose petals falling over a smiling Pitaji. How about doing something with bullets more awesome than The Matrix? Let’s convert the incoming bullets into a golden Crown for King Pitaji and then make him whoop the gundas’ gonads. This is the kind of stuff Rajinikanth can only dream of, and Pitaji chews every ridiculous scene with the smile of a huggable teddy. Not to mention the truly epic song lyrics like:
Papa the Great, mere papa the great
Bas tum karte ho pyaar
Saari duniya karti hate
The consistently over the top style of MSG is only buoyed by the absolutely atrocious acting from pretty much everyone in the film. ‘Guwwwuujeeeee’, a gut bustingly untalented phoren actress in this desi movie asks, ‘can I make a documentary on you? Pleeeeeaaaaase? Please Please Please Please’. When Pitaji replies in the affirmative the girl screams in delight, as Bhangra music plays and random kids begin celebrating. Only Dev Anand’s last few films commanded acting, character development and direction as hilariously tacky as the stuff in this movie.
Behind the crackpot writing, direction and acting, MSG without a doubt, is a gigantic advertisement for Dera Sacha Sauda. How dangerous is this, you may ask yourself. These guys spent tens of crores to promote a controversial cult on a mainstream level as this great organization that benefits mankind. The Dera has millions of followers and heaven knows there are people dumb enough to actually believe all the magical tricks of their Pitaji. Keep your concerns at bay, because it’s great to have more movies which are bad enough to be fun rather than the ones that are so bad they’re terrible. Besides, why wouldn’t you want more movies featuring a Saint, with curly arm hair, in a rainbow costume, playing a guitar with both hands, while riding a bike, over a swimming pool, in the air, as two female fans in the pool cheer in awe?
Hilariously, Saint Gurmeet’s ginormous name is present in every single opening credit of the movie, sometimes in different lengths. It is reminiscent of the film Jigarthanda, in which a local gangster forces a filmmaker at gunpoint to make him a superstar. The third act of that movie is pretty much the story of MSG’s release and now a bridge between satire and reality.
Why the film faced any ban is a mystery. You can laugh with the movie, and more so at the movie. It’s a win win. I reckon the censor board wanted to ban the movie for being too awesome. There is literally no better way to spend your valentines day than taking your date to watch the Love Charger.
(First published in Firstpost)