Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Let it be said that I admire Ms Robert's acting skills and the choice of faith and religion is a personal matter not to be debated by unknown netizens.
Just before the release of her film Julia Roberts has announced that she has embraced Hinduism. Fine. Why scream and announce it to the world, is my question? The forty two year old actress says, “It is not a gimmick. I have no intention of demeaning any other religion. It is because of my fondness for Hinduism.”
Wonderful! The truth is that the core values of all religions are the same. Right over wrong, good over evil, justice over injustice, fair over unfair and peace over war. Understood in this manner a change of religion becomes inconsequential for me.
Coming back to my query, how will Ms Roberts become a Hindu? Will she conduct havans, wear ochre, blow conchs, perform aartis, sing bhajans or maybe attend the next Kumbh mela? Julia might become a Jaishree. Who knows?

Okay, agreed, religion does not begin and end with rituals and changing names. It goes much beyond, more so, Hinduism which is ‘a way of life’.
According to Julia, now that she is a Hindu, she along with her family will ‘chant, pray and celebrate’. Surely celebrating, chanting and praying were possible even while she was with her previous religion; a Baptist with Catholic parents. Who was stopping her from praying or celebrating?

Perhaps she will become a better person by embracing Hinduism. Not, necessarily. Perhaps Ms Roberts, impressed with the Hindu mythology, will now read and follow the Hindu epics; Mahabharata and Ramayana. There is a lot to imbibe from the sanity and sweetness of Sita, from the heroic fortitude of Rama, from the righteousness of Arjuna and from the loving fidelity of Hanumana and Lakshmana. She can practice the core tenets of The Gita which the whole world is recognizing.

Having said that, these epics belong to the world and not only to India. For these epics teach the essential oneness of the human family. Anyone and everyone can derive spiritual strength from them to face trials with fortitude and faith. Hinduism is more than a religion. It is a culture which embraces one and all. The modern face of Hinduism has been advocated fiercely and packaged adequately by the likes of Deepak Chopra and Robin Sharma, narrating stories about safaris and monks.

My point is, why this hypocrisy of apotheosizing a religion just before the release of a film in a particular country. And to top it all, the movie hammers the myth that India is a land of snake charmers and elephants. Ms Roberts intentions in the movie appear gimmicky, as she gets weird messages from a Texan in an Indian ashram. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on which the movie is based is far more engaging than the movie.
If this conversion to Hinduism was out of pure love, then the same could be done privately. On second thoughts there might be a reason. Publicity! I am not sure. Perhaps I am being cynical. Perhaps her intentions are far more honest. Time will tell.


  1. Whoa lady, you are quite angry with Julia Roberts!

    Personally, I don't see any harm in it. She is a celebrity, whatever she does will hit the newspapers. Moreover, timing thing... yes it could be becoz of the exposure she got due to the movie.

    Also, how much as Hindus we do, i mean the rituals etc?

    Does she need a gimmick for her movie, I doubt, the book was hit and ppl were waiting for the movie.

    it's possible that movie didnot do justice to the story.



  2. Forget about what she will do.I am sure, we , indians will show our excitement for no reason at all.

  3. well I am a fan of her's she is a marvellos actor..

    but i do feel this that she has done is a publicity stunt.. well we will soon find out in a few months time when other news comes out ..

    and BK CHowla sir said we indians will show our excitement for nothing toooo .. :)


  4. @ A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart....Hey, I have nothing against her.In fact I admire her as an actor.The essence of God is the same in all religions. What ticked me off was the announcement coming around the release of the film which projects India as a land of snake charmers.As I said, if the conversion is what she wants, then good luck to her.

  5. @Bikramjit...I admire her as an actor too.
    It takes a lifetime to understand a religion. The subject is beyond my comprehension, even though I am a born Hindu. So her understanding of Hinduism is superficial. A few years down the line she might change her ideas. Till then, may she find Bliss!

  6. For actors whatever is personal is public and publishable. As far as faith is concerned, it should be a way of life, as you rightly said rather than a beautiful charm to be adorned on ones arms and flaunted.

  7. @Sh@s...Absolutely they lead a different life. I an not able to comprehend as to how change of religion is going to change her life.

  8. Maybe she will make ladoos for ganesh chaturthi? :) who knows??! its quite clear why people like Juila do this..like u said its publicity..but i absolutely HATE the way english movies potray India..i mean..does every Indian wear a turban!? or do they have that weird accent! So true alka! Bang on.

  9. Alka,

    A hardhitting but truthful post. I know that whatever a celebrity does, it becomes news but the timming of this sudden publicity does raise eyebrows.

    Take care

  10. It surely does look like a publicity stunt. Indians although wl go overboard and declare her as some "avatar" or smthng......

  11. @Jayanth...ladoos for Ganesh Chaturthi...ha,ha.Awesome!

  12. Haha...you're good!

    I think it wold take less than a second to understand what it is all about. I guess another incentive might be the Shiv Sena itself...you know they wont take shit from an american who gets texts from a texan in an Hindu ashram n all...thats lame I know, but think!

    I'd rather much read the book. And it watch the movie, then it would be in downloaded format n purely for Javier. :P

  13. @Cindrella...lol. Book is any day better than the movie..It is not easy to capture the essence of a book and make a movie out of it...Remember the dud Hindi movie called Hello based on Chetan's, One night at the call center.
    Thank you dear for reading ..

  14. My dear friend Cinderella is of the opinion that I should read you and thank god I came across your page.I am not qualified to say something like 'you are good' but I loved reading your post nonetheless . Thank you for such a wonderful read.

    About the post... Well, I think just as you have the right to dissect someone the way you want to, the same way, Julia has the right to chant whatever she wants to any time and anywhere. You are talking about commercialization and publicity stunts. You are talking about her doing all what she wanted in private and that she did not need to that in public- But is it any different from what you or any other writer on public forum is doing ? You could have written it well in your diary and kept it to yourself if you feel so strongly about it. Or you could have blogged and made the post private. But you did not. The point is the craving for social approval.We are no different from her and that does not make us a bad person. Aamir Khan cuts hair before the release of Taare Zameen Par and I have come to believe that religion ( or, the version of it that we have today ) is as irrelevant a thing as hair. You have to be as internally driven as Lance Armstrong not to do something for anyone else and still be happy about it and quite frankly, it is beyond most of us. Julia,if your accusations are true, is just an ordinary human being.

    Good that you brought up the Shiv Sena thing because I was going to mention it anyway. Well Shiv Sena says, why do you have to express your love on 14th of feb and that too in public parks- and people like you talk about independence and freedom of whatever-you-want-to and crib about it. You say it is their choice to express love and 14th feb is as good as any other day and no one can stop them. Here, you did not like her chanting about her Hindu avatar around the time of release of movie. How are you any different from Shiv Sena who are into moral policing and have issues with the 'timing'?

    Apologies for having spoilt the mood of the post but I personally do not adore criticisms until they go against public interest. Personal criticisms are never constructive and hardly do any good. But, again, you are wonderful to read and I am a fan of yours from now onwards...

  15. Yes its very obvious that celebrities do things to get to the lime light and grab the headlines. And i find it rather silly to read abt them. I really cudnt care less whether she's a Hindu or a Christian!!

  16. @sritatsat..Thank you for your constructive criticism. It is absolutely not spoiling my mood. In fact I am glad that my words have started a healthy discussion.
    It is a free world.To each his own.

    For some like me, religion is a personal matter, for some it is a matter of faith, for some it is a culture and for others it might be a style statement. But to say that it is insignificant is trivial. If religion is as irrelevant as cutting hair, according to you then why make a movie on it, depicting India in a parochial manner. If you have seen the movie, you will agree that the movie misrepresents Hinduism. Movies are a powerful medium and using religion as a tool for commercial gains is not in good taste. As I said if Ms Roberts is embracing Hinduism for anything other than a gimmick, then her actions are laudable.For she is searching for peace and happiness. Good luck to her with which ever religion she embraces. Anyways, I was not criticizing the decision, only trying to understand the significance of it all!

  17. @Ria...Absolutely. It is insignificant as to which faith she embraces. I am trying to understand the significance of changing religion, when the basic tenets of all religions are the same!

  18. @sritatsat....Forwarding a link..http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/entertainment/hindu-leaders-fear-roberts-eat-pray-love-will-bastardise-their-religion_100232944.html

    Visited your blog but was unable to comment on your post. Your writing flows beautifully.

  19. Thank you for undertanding that the intent of my comment was not to belittle your awesome efforts but to see that Miss Roberts does not go unrepresented. One sided stuff, as love, never does any good. So, just trying to make your post complete :)

    Yes, I have seen that movie and other than the bit about India, I did like it. But India/Hinduism is far greater a concept that can be belittled by some petty movie maker from west.I mean, Mahatma Gandhi is not great because say, 100 people told, "He is great". He is great because he actually is great-so, that portrayal of India did not cause me much trouble, infact, just a smile :)
    Your take on religion is respectworthy. However, as I said, the religion in its "current" version, is not more than hair or anything which is kind of...what we call,vestigeal. Yes, I would go on record to say that it is irrelevant :D - majorly because it is not what it started as. Way of life- we like to say so, but is it ? The very concept of religion was to put certain actions under that umbrella that could benefit the society as a whole and not just an individual ( that is in Quran somewhere ). It is the public component which is of far more importance than the private component. Yes, you can have personal faith but then that faith must do some social good- 'that' would be religion and I think that is what you believe too. Miss Roberts, I bet, can not think that much :P- and other than her acting skills, I do not think she has the faintest idea about things in the world. God ! I think we should meet her and ask what was going in her head when she said so :P

  20. Thank you for the link. We Indians are yet to get over the 'colonial mindset' as it seems. We get nervous as soon as some firang gets in sight and for some funny reason, his evaluation of our traditions seems authentic to so many people here. Funny it is !

    Sorry about the blog- I have disabled the comments because I have this habbit of getting into discussions and quite often, the person at the other end gets offended- not everyone takes it in positive spirit. So, have been keeping pretty much to myself you know... why find new avenues of anxiety :D :P- there already are so many :)

  21. @sritatsat...A healthy debate/discussion is welcome. As mature adults we can always agree to disagree.