Padmavyuha, a film that aims to explore religious fundamentalism, has received online backlash for targeting Hinduism and the makers have now pulled down the trailer from YouTube.
Director Raj Krishna asserts his film is an exploration of faith at its highest level. The film, that was recently screened at the International Film Festival of Toronto, traces a religion studies professor who receives a mysterious late-night call. The caller leads him onto a mystic path of puzzles and symbols, taking him on a discovery of a global conspiracy that involves the history of Hinduism. Calling it a Da Vinci style religious, mystery murder, Krishna says “It is also an Indian-American co-production. Ninety percent of our cast was from San Francisco and LA. Pooja has the unique honor of being our Bollywood participant.”
The 40-minute film takes a close look at the fundamentalist nature of religion and those using religion to propagate political agenda and gain power. While Padmavyuha names Hinduism, it could be really about any other religion with Godmen and blind faith. However, it is now facing criticism and has been called a propaganda film against Hinduism. Twitter users have slammed the film, the makers and cast involved, claiming it is an anti-Hindu movie.
While Krishna admits that he is perhaps trying to find a connection with his own roots by making films like Padmavyuha, he claims that he’s done his research. “I read a number of books on the history of colonization and history of Hinduism. I also read about Orientalism – the concept that the west corrupted eastern narratives. I also took help from my father because he is into Hinduism. He was the one who came up with the name. I went deep down into Padmavyuha – the military formation. I went into versions of Mahabharata, Manusmriti, and the Vedas,” he says.
Responding to the backlash, Krishna says, “Over the last few days, the Padmavyuha team has had to endure harassment online as there has been a misinformation campaign across Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook to spread ideas about how our film is ‘anti-Hindu’, when it is, in fact, the opposite. Our film explores the beauty of Hinduism, and delves into the history of Hinduism and India, and explores how these histories have been corrupted by the West. Our intention as filmmakers is to shine a light on the rich mythology associated with Hinduism, and to explore the power of faith of all religions and cultures.”
Krishna still anticipates that the film will be widely available next year.