Hollywood star Julia Roberts' shooting at an ashram in Pataudi, Haryana for Eat, Pray, Love is making media headlines, but villagers are upset as they are not allowed to enter the ashram temple due to security measures.
Roberts, once the world's best-paid actress, on Sunday began the first schedule of shooting along with co-star Richard Jenkins at the Ashram Hari Mandir in this village, about 40 km from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.
However, the star's presence has also brought armed policemen, private security guards and bouncers to the venue, and the villagers are sore that they have been denied entry into their own hermitage on security grounds.
Apparently the whole ashram and the Pataudi Palace, where the 41-year-old star is staying with her three children, their nannies, the cast and crew, "have been booked", according to a security officer.
Shakuntala Devi, a middle-aged woman, on Sunday morning went to offer prayers at the temple with a group of women but had to return without their deity's 'darshan'.
"Entry for devotees is barred... We were not allowed to enter and pray in the morning by the security. Only those who could manage to sneak in did so but most of us were all sent back," Shakuntala Devi told IANS.
"It's Navratras and we must not be stopped from visiting a temple," she added.
Kailash, a 21-year-old resident, retorted: "I am going to barge in anyhow for the evening aarti. Let me see who stops me. What is it that they are shooting that we cannot even enter our own temple?"
When asked, a Haryana police official posted at the ashram replied: "God doesn't have to go anywhere... He is going to stay right here. They (the villagers) can visit him anytime later (once the shooting is over)."
The shooting is expected to go on till the first week of October.
Ashram officials were unavailable for comment.
"The temple has been closed and the staff have been given a temporary off... even swamiji (the head priest) left for Faridabad in the morning after giving auspicious start to the shooting," said a source.
Directed by Ryan Murphy, the movie is based on Pushcart prize-winning author Elizabeth Gilbert's spirituality-travel memoirs, Eat, Love, Pray, and features Roberts as Gilbert who travels to Italy, India and Indonesia in search of peace.
Among other actors in the film are Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Leca Argentero and Viola Davis.
Having already shot at New York and in Italy, the India part of the film will be shot at the Ashram Hari Mandir apart from an 'open market' that will be set up from the Pataudi Palace main entrance to the ashram, Pataudi market and the nearby Mirzapur village.
Roberts' shoot into the ashram had also reportedly created a stir among a section of Hindus abroad, as they were concerned about how their traditions would be depicted in the film.