Hollywood film on how Christ fought caste in India
- New spin: Christ fought caste in India
From Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, New Delhi:
Hollywood is to fill in The Bibles "missing years" with a story about
Jesus as a wandering mystic who travelled across India, living in
Buddhist monasteries and speaking out against the iniquities of the
countrys caste system.
Film producers have delved deep into revisionist scholarship to piece
together what they say was Jesus's life between the ages of 13 and 30,
a period untouched by the recognised gospels.
The result is the Aquarian Gospel, a $20 million movie, which portrays
Jesus as a holy man and teacher inspired by a myriad of eastern
religions in India. The Aquarian Gospel takes its name from a
century-old book that examined Christianity's eastern roots and is in
its 53rd reprint.
The film's producers say the movie will be shot using actors and
computer animation and will follow the travels of Yeshua, believed to
be the name for Jesus in Aramaic, from the Middle East to India.
Casting for suitable Bollywood and Hollywood actors has begun.
"The Bible devotes just seven words to the most formative years of
Yeshua's life saying: `The boy grew in wisdom and stature'," points
Drew Heriot, the film's director, whose credits include the cult hit
The film, which is due for release in 2009, sets out to be a fantasy
action adventure account of Jesus's life with the three wise men as
his mentors. Although the producers say the film will feature a "young
and beautiful" princess, it is not clear whether Jesus is to have a
The producers say they are hoping for commercial and spiritual gains.
"We think that Indian religions and Buddhism, especially with the idea
of meditation, played a big part in Christ's thinking," said William
Sees Keenan, the producer.
"We are looking at new themes. In our story Jesus was loyal to the
untouchables (in India) and he defended them with his life by saying
that everyone could read the Vedas (Hindu holy books)," said Keenan, a
The Catholic church in India dismisses the film as just "Hollywood
filmmakers in search of a new audience rather than the truth". Aware
that religious passions are easily inflamed, after the Da Vinci Code
film sparked protests among Indian Christians, its spokesman said that
a movie about Jesus in India was plainly "fantasy and fiction".
"I have personally investigated many of these claims and they remain
what they first seem: fiction," said John Dayal, president of the All
India Catholic Union which represents 16 million churchgoers. "I am
sure it will make money but I do not think it will displace thousands
of years of Biblical thought."