Dera Sacha Sauda’s Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a self-styled godman who believes in the power of rock music over religious robes, cinema over crystal balls and glitter over gyaan, talks about his upcoming film MSG: The Messenger of God
THIS IS one godman with a difference. Not sticking to the ubiquitous robes of a preacher, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the self-styled guru of Sirsa-based non-profit spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda, sports multi-coloured T-shirts with glitter (which he admits to sticking on himself) and possesses custom-made motorbikes and cars. To boot, he is a rock star, and now a movie actor as well.
Talking with FE about his upcoming movie, MSG: The Messenger of God, which, incidentally, led to the resignation of Censor Board chief Leela Samson, Singh says this is a new way for him to connect with his followers. “As per our new vision, we plan to connect with the youth, which constitute 70% of our following. And what better way to connect with them than music and films?” says 47-year-old Singh, who has written, co-directed and even acted in the upcoming movie.
His experiments with the audio-visual medium are not new. Over the past two years, he has released six music albums that he classifies as ‘religious rock’. They include Thank For u That, Network Tere Love Ka, Insan and Lov Rab Se. His latest album, Highway Love Charger (released in April 2014), sold almost three million copies in three days, and has seen around 1.75 million views on YouTube.
Singh’s lifestyle is also of no ascetic. Expensive jewellery, high-end watches, designer clothes, Singh has them all. He travels in a fleet of over 100 cars, two buses, an ambulance and a fire engine along with several police vehicles. He also designs mini cars and bikes for himself—in fact, he will be seen driving quite a few of them in the movie.
The strategy behind the film, Singh says, is to package a spiritual message in a modern avatar. “The movie is aimed at generating awareness about various humanitarian drives. While the storyline draws quite a lot from real life, elements of action, suspense and drama have been added to make it more interesting,” Singh says. The movie, funded by Dera Sacha Sauda, has been co-directed by Jeetu Arora, who has in the past directed several television serials like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. “Singh is a one-take actor. His dialogues and emotions flow so naturally that you don’t even realise he is acting,” says Arora.
The movie, interestingly, couples religious discourse with nationalistic agenda. One of the dialogues in the film goes, “Humein maarna apne aap ko maarne ke barabar hai (Killing me amounts to killing yourself)”. Singh carries the Tricolour in several scenes, and even sings “Jiyeinge marenge, mar mitenge, desh ke liye (We will live, we will die, for the country).” That is just one of the seven songs in the movie—all written and sung by Singh himself. In fact, one of the highlights of the film is a sequence of a live concert that Singh held in Sirsa, which has been made a part of the film. “Guru-ji’s three-day concert at the Shah Satnam Ji Stadium in August last year was attended by around 1.25 lakh followers,” a Dera official says.
The film, which has found the BJP’s support, also stars actresses Flora Saini and Jayshree Soni, among other cast members, who will be playing not Singh’s love interests, but his ‘daughters’, he says.
For the shooting of the movie, which has been filmed in and around Sirsa (a few sequences were shot in south India as well), the crew camped on the Dera Sacha Sauda’s premises. “We are accustomed to smoking and drinking after we are done for the day. However, while shooting for MSG, none of us touched cigarettes or drinks,” a crew member was reported as saying in the media.
Before the movie, Singh composed music albums in a mix of Hindi, Punjabi and some English. Apart from his regular ‘naam charcha’, or discourse, sessions, he also holds concerts called Ru-ba-Ru Nights.
Through the movie, Dera Sacha Sauda also plans to reach the international audience. “MSG will be dubbed in several Indian languages and released in theatres across the country. For the international audiences, it will be dubbed in English as well,” Singh says.
So convinced is Singh about his strategy that shooting for MSG’s sequel is almost complete too, and that won’t be the last in the series. “Yes, there will be sequels, but that’s in the future,” he adds.