A sex scene in the Hollywood movie Oppenheimer featuring a line from a Hindu holy scripture has sparked online outrage in India, with one official calling it a “scathing attack”.
The biographical drama about US physicist Robert Oppenheimer, played by actor Cillian Murphy, opened in India on Friday to positive reviews, reportedly raking in more than $3m at the box office there in two days.
The film tells the story of Oppenheimer, who is often credited as the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in producing the first nuclear weapons.
Religious text quoted in sex scene
One scene showing Oppenheimer with his lover Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh, has sparked outrage online.
The scene features the protagonist reciting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, considered the holiest of Hindu scripture, just before sexual intercourse.
Murphy reads the line, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”, the quote which Oppenheimer reportedly recalled when the first nuclear bomb was detonated.
In various interviews, Oppenheimer, who died in 1967, spoke of his interest in the religion. He had also learned Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism.
‘Assault on religious beliefs’: Official
“This is a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus,” Uday Mahurkar, a senior official at the government’s Central Information Commission, wrote to the film’s director, Christopher Nolan, on Monday.
“It amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community,” Mahurkar said in the letter, a copy of which he posted on Twitter, and urged Nolan to cut the scene.
Hashtags such as #BoycottOppenheimer and #RespectHinduCulture have been trending on Twitter.
Harris Sultan, an author, said Hindus were “left angry and perplexed at the blatant disrespect”.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a prominent right-wing Hindu organisation, said the movie was an attempt to “launch an attack” on Hindu society and demanded the scene be cut.
“The makers should apologise to the Hindu community all over the world whose sentiments have been badly hurt,” spokesman Vinod Bansal told the news agency AFP.
Hindus are the majority in India but minorities, including Muslims, form a significant part of the population.
Critics say religious intolerance has been growing in the world’s most populous country since the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.