“Waarrior Savitri,” the newest offering of Indian American director Param Gill scheduled for release in India and the U.S. Aug. 25, has received considerable backlash for its depiction of the Hindu goddess as a modern, 21st-century woman.Effigies bearing the image of Gill have been burned in Raipur and elsewhere across India, according to local media reports.
The Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum sent a letter last month to Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagatre questing permission to burn an effigy of Gill. A copy of the letter was forwarded to IANS by the director.
Sushil Malhotra, president of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum, wrote in the letter to Bhagat that the film “makes a mockery of a revered Indian goddess.” Malhotra stated that the film was “obscene.”
The Mahabharata tells the story of goddess Savitri, who used the power of her dedication to her husband Satyavan to save him from being killed by Yama, the god of death. In Hindu mythology, Savitri is described as the epitome of a dutiful wife.
Gill, chose to depict Savitri as a strong, empowered, 21st-century woman. In a trailer available on the Youtube Web site, the goddess is shown practicing martial arts to combat her enemies. Savitri – played by Niharica Raizada – is also shown in shots depicting sexual intimacy. She is also shown wearing sexy clothing, including cut-off shorts and bustiér-style tops.
The film is set in Las Vegas. Its stars include Om Puri, Lucy Pinder, Rajat Barmecha and Gulshan Grover.
In an interview, Gill told IANS he was inspired by the 2012 gang rape of a young New Delhi student – known as Nirbhaya – who died after the brutal attack. “I thought women needed to empower themselves, and learn martial arts to protect themselves,” he said.
Gill said he feared going to India for the film’s release next week. He said he has received threatening letters from various Indian organizations exhorting him to self-ban the film. “There is a general pattern of intolerance throughout the country now,” said Gill.
YouTube video of Gill’s effigy being burnt at Raipur