Opening this week

Film review: MSG The Messenger is the BDSM experience you were denied in Fifty Shades

This excruciating 180-minute propaganda exercise celebrates Gurmeet Singh as the one-stop solution to the world's problems.

Had Fifty Shades of Grey arrived in India on February 13 as scheduled, it would have faced competition from MSG The Messenger in the BDSM department.

Early on in the movie, a shadow looms over and covers the map of India, and neither nation nor narrative emerges from under that dark blob for the next three hours. The blob goes by the name Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, and he is in nearly every frame, hirsute arms in boon-granting mode, beatific smile on visage, and mouth ever ready to spout saintly solutions to our woes and anxieties.

Essentially a long recruitment video for his cult, MSG  stars the controversial head of the Dera Sacha Sauda as himself, a man of good thoughts and deeds, immense energy, rustic cool and superhuman abilities. He rescues young women from prostitution, plants trees, cleans up the streets, rehabilitates eunuchs, organises blood donation drives and de-addiction programmes, and solves physical ailments with the help of a version of the Kool-aid that American preacher Jim Jones fed his flock in 1978, killing a great many of them.

In MSG, the miraculous drink is called  “ruhaani jaam” but unfortunately the pink beverage isn't available to members of the audience. That, or another liquid laced with something more mind-altering, is necessary to endure this non-movie, which pays tribute to this one-man solution to the solar system’s problems by borrowing heavily from the movies. Gurmeet Singh’s multifarious feats are inspired by a range of sources, including the Matrix films and Rohit Shetty’s over-the-top action flicks.

The sight of Gurmeet Singh sailing through the air, single-handedly punching sword-yielding opponents, defusing a bomb, and repeatedly thwarting a Vin Diesel-lookalike who has been sent by the local drug mafia to kill the godman is actually not totally preposterous. Why should Bollywood have the monopoly on the anachronistic use of cultural signs and symbols, songs that drag down a narrative, special effects-aided miracles and an ultra-macho and invincible hero who throws punches and punchlines? If Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan, so can Gurmeet Singh.

Clothes maketh the man

Gurmeet Singh’s astute image management has already been visible in videos of his live performances, in which he belts out such songs as “Love Charger” with the aplomb of a Woodstock remnant. As is to be expected, in MSG, he does one better than the most flamboyant American funk stars and disco divas. The self-declared fakir’s gloriously colourful apparel is designed to challenge fashion police into upgrading their vocabulary of adjectives. There is simply nothing that Gurmeet Singh is incapable of, including donning all manner of accessories, from sequins and shells to lace and crochet, to adorn his robes, head gear, and shoes (some of which have levitation-ready flaps). Gurmeet Singh makes his appearance in a sparkly costume borrowed from an Arabian Nights fantasy, and his sartorial choices and incessant costume changes (sometimes mid-sequence) provide some distraction from the atrocious acting, risible dialogue, tacky special effects, absence of continuity, and sliver of a plot. No man would have deigned to wear a tiara of roses and spangled nighties, but then Gurmeet Singh is no mere man.

Beneath the endless piety and goodwill lies a thinly veiled threat. MSG isn’t just an audacious act of propaganda by a cult leader bent on expanding his flock beyond his traditional strongholds in Punjab and Haryana. The movie sends out the unambiguous message that the Dera Sacha Sauda will not suffer the same fate as Rampal Maharaj, who holed up with his followers in his ashram in Haryana last November to avoid being arrested on a murder charge. In MSG’s universe, of course, Gurmeet Singh will not need any help to tackle his armed opponents.

Whatever else MSG achieves, this excruciating and enervating experience has the potential to inaugurate a new sub-category in the Indian mythological movie genre – the godman hagio-pic. Indian cinema has produced films on religious icons, saints and movements. It won’t be long before dubious godmen put on the war paint, dust off their ochre robes, and rehearse lines and stunts for the camera. If Gurmeet Singh can, so can Baba Ramdev.



Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900

Fashion

If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.