Many people described Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling travel/self-help memoir Eat, Pray, Love as good or great, insightful, interesting and funny. Many others described it as silly, narcissistic, hokey, a new-agey piece of trash, neo-colonialist, disastrous, cloying and according to the NY Post, “the worst in Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture, assured in its answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers.” In case you don’t worship at the Temple of Oprah, Eat, Pray, Love is about Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia after a bitter divorce. She eats in Italy, meditates in India, and has some kind of romantic liaison in Indonesia. The book was released in 2006, and got a huge bump in 2007 (when Oprah selected it for her book club) and remains a big bestseller. The movie rights were snapped up by… Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company. Julia Roberts quickly signed on to star – and it’s filming right now. The film production is about to make it’s way to India very soon – which is what has people worried.
According to Page Six, it seems the backlash against the book and the film production has already begun in India. Hindu scholars are worried that Julia will attempt to make ancient devotional duties somehow pretty and Hollywood-y, and many fear the whole film will “incorrectly depict” Hindus and the Hindu faith:
INDIAN yogis and Hindu leaders are in a huff over fears that Julia Roberts’ upcoming movie, “Eat, Pray, Love,” will bastardize their religion and portray yoga as a crock of New Age mumbo jumbo.
Roberts is in New York this month filming scenes for the screen version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, which details the author’s efforts to find spiritual enlightenment in Italy, India and Indonesia after she’d gone through a nasty divorce.
But shooting is scheduled in India for the third week of September, and has sparked concerns about whether the film will portray Hinduism and yoga authentically.
Most prominent among the skeptics is Rajan Zed, the head of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who’s led Hindu prayers in the US Senate. He said in a recent interview, “Hinduism and its belief system are quite often misunderstood and incorrectly depicted outside India.”
Zed added, “The people of India will be anxious to see how perfectly Roberts does her job of cleaning ashram floors as a part of her devotional duty, trying to recite 182- verse Sanskrit chant, and going through grueling hours of meditation, while being feasted on by mosquitoes.”
Producers have already disclosed that they won’t shoot “Eat, Pray, Love” at the same ashram where Gilbert studied, but instead will use one near Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is near the hotel where Roberts will stay.
The book was derided by The Post’s Maureen Callahan in December of 2007 as “narcissistic New Age reading” and “the worst in Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture, assured in its answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers.”
Javier Bardem, James Franco and Billy Crudup are also on board to star. A rep for Sony said the studio had no comment.
[From Page Six]
I didn’t read the book and I have no desire to see the film, so my general feeling is “meh” on all sides. Do I think Hindu scholars have every right to worry, and to speak publicly about their concerns? Yep. Do I think the film’s portrayal in general of Hinduism (and Julia’s performance specifically) will be offensive? My guess is that if the book offended you, the film will offend you. If you thought the book was amazing, the film will probably be your wet dream (I imagine the Oprah audience, a sea of white, middle-aged, upper-middle-class women, screaming “JULIA!!”). You know what I mean? If anything’s offensive, it’s the source material, not the film. In any case, by making a big deal about the film, the Hindu scholars are ensuring that the India section will be more watered-down, aiming to offend no one.
Julia Roberts and James Franco are shown on the set of Eat, Pray, Love in New York on 8/4/09 and 8/9/09. Credit: Fame Pictures and WENN.com
Written by Kaiser
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