Now playing: Love Charger Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in and as Insaan

  • Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2015 12:24 IST

He is larger than life on several fronts, but the latest, if not the biggest of them all, is a film where he's the director, producer, lyricist, music director, choreographer, and even the director of photography. That he is also lead actor of the film is hardly a surprise then.

It is a given then that Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh thinks he's a man of many talents, a set of gifts that makes him eligible to feature as a real-life hero in MSG – Messenger of God, a film that has set-off a chain of events that threaten to go out of control any time. Already, India's censor board has all but collapsed, with all the members quitting from their posts, in protest against the government's meddling in their affairs. The Mumbai film fraternity, otherwise mute bystanders for most issues, is mincing no words to criticise the government's interference.

None of this seems to have fazed GRRS. His composure is intact. In fact, he is raring and kicking, quite literally. News has it that the godman-actor is already into the production of MSG Part II; who cares if the first film hasn’t got the preview certificate yet!

The relatively bigger babas in India have a penchant for showmanship. They take their nom de guerre seriously. Most of them use Maharaj as a prefix, and live like one. Not GRRS. He is radical and has opted for Insaan, in absolute contrast with his counterparts. And why can’t an Insaan live life king size?

Indeed, he gave a sneak peak into his king size following at the hugely downplayed MSG premiere in Gurgaon on February 16. Within minutes of his grand entry at the Sector 29 venue, worthy of any big-ticket filmstar, one thing was evident: That this was one spectacle you didn't want to miss. Still, none of the non-followers at the venue had the faintest idea of what is about to unfold.

Huge cutouts of GRRS making no attempt to play down the controversy the film has generated, I could see thousands flocking towards the ground which I initially thought was a bus stand (What else would you think if you see 50 buses parked in a ground). Given the crowd, a stampede was always a danger, but the sizeable posse of Gurgaon police was a confidence booster. It was never a far-fetched idea though. Women, children, elders, youngsters marching towards the carnival looked nothing less than hypnotised as they chanted ‘dhan dhan satguru tera hi aasra’. The tension was writ large on every policeman's face, but even then they didn’t forget to greet the crowd. Were they also the Dera followers or were just easing it off?

A surprise was waiting inside the first tent which appeared relatively silent though one could sense growling from outside. It grew and suddenly the first glimpse of people dancing like crazy flashed. The scene also fetched attention towards the second giant size screen I spotted so far. There you go. Rockstar Baba was singing Never Ever. Good that he was still not there as the devotees would have blocked the view. Men in suites, young girls in trendy clothes, women with carefully put lipsticks were part of the crowd. I was better off moving to another arena than questioning their sensibilities and IQs.

Have you ever been to a jagran? Amplify the charged atmosphere manifolds, sans the ‘Mata’ chant, and you know what it was like in the adjacent tent. This is the closest I could get. Clueless Bhangra dancers, stressed waiters and uninformed delegates didn’t know the schedule and it remained so for another 15-20 minutes, before a big roar juxtaposed the volume of enormous speakers playing MSG trailers.

The moment had arrived, and before anybody could move, a cavalcade of black SUVs screeched to a halt in the media tent. Men with GRRS’s tattoos on their faces were fixing the stage for him, but the procession crossed pass the venue as he preferred to greet the masses first in the first tent. Soon, the convoy was back, with all the drama intact.

The presser began with tough but anticipated questions, and GRRS addressed everyone ‘beta’ and ‘beti’ while dodging off the tricky ones. Though the outgoing CBFC chief referred the film to the reviewing committee for being too promotional, GRRS denied any fresh knowledge about it. Interestingly, he said that he doesn’t even know about the film’s premiere that whether it is going to happen or not. But, that didn’t mean the ‘bhakts’ will go home with an empty feeling. We can always do a concert, he said. He doesn’t need anyone as he is the actor-singer-composer-everything. The crowd kept cheering and jeering throughout the presser.

He didn’t say anything different from what is already reported, but he grabbed the moments of exhilaration. The high point arrived when he said, "All the parties come to me to seek my blessings and I bless them." Doesn’t it sound like a person who is aware of his source of strength, but his face looked as innocent as any other person present there. Also, it’s difficult for lesser mortals to figure out somebody’s inner thoughts hidden behind a thick beard.

Then, who exactly, is working against the film and GRRS in particular. "May be someone who is selling less liquor now," he announced to rapturous reaction. It's here again: GRRS never spares a chance to pronounce himself as the crusader against drug mafia and prostitution.

Watch: MSG trailer

Press conference set the stage for him to raid the stage with mike. Also, he was not left with any choice as it was quite evident by now that no screening of MSG is possible now. But, there was one man who still expressed ignorance about the development regarding it. You guessed it right, none other than GRRS himself.

Is the climax on the way without a melodrama overdose? He sang and the crowd of people wearing MSG shirts danced, like a passionate herd. He stopped – heard the MSG, MSG, MSG chanting – and continued. He paced back and forth until a 20 something girl was invited to sing with him. She cried and prompted other eyes to go moist and the ‘concert’ continued. But, by now, I was almost at the exit.

I wonder, was it the show of strength or a genuine concern for the followers? Has he fooled everybody into his so-called enigma or, we are judging him just because he is another ‘godman’? What about the criminal cases filed against him? Why can’t a godman feature in a film? Also, you’re free to not watch it. Is it actually like looking forward with more communication oriented spiritual leaders or he is hell bent on self promotion? Can he really be so naïve to not know about the censor certificate? Are we watching another baba who is bargaining with political parties? Can spending some millions on a film achieve him the publicity he couldn’t have garnered by funding billions to political parties? Time will answer, but before that brace yourself for the MSG release which seems very much possible now. (Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha)

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