Oppenheimer has sparked controversy in India over a sex scene – here's why

Oppenheimer has sparked controversy in India over a sex scene – here's why

Cillian Murphy stars in Oppenheimer alongside Emily Blunt (left) and Florence Pugh (right)

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

One of the most famous lines in Oppenheimer is when J. Robert Oppenheimer, the protagonist, thinks of the Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita when the first bomb is detonated during tests.

Oppenheimer’s line “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” is, apparently, true to real life.

It also appeared in the Bhagavad Gita when the god Vishnu is trying to persuade Prince Arjuna that he should do his duty and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says the same words.

Now, it turns out some members of the Hindu community in India are upset about how this quote is first brought into the movie – when he is having sex with Florence Pugh’s character, Jean Tatlock.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

While in bed, she gets up and goes to his bookshelf, taking a book written in a language she doesn’t know. Presumably, we can interpret this to be the Bhagavad Gita.

Then, she asks him to read it while they continue having sex, feeding the scientist’s ego and further inflating the god complex he has over his own intelligence.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some on social media aren’t too happy about their holy book being read during a sex scene.

Uday Mahurkar, an Indian journalist and founder of the Save Culture Save India Foundation, called it a “direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus” in an open letter addressed to Nolan.

The real life J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the US' development of the A-bombExpress Newspapers/Getty Images

The post argues that Hollywood is deliberately “very sensitive” about Islam and asks why “the same courtesy” can’t be shown to Hindus.

It adds that if Nolan does not remove the scene from the film, it will be interpreted as a “deliberate assault on Indian civilization”.

News outlet Variety reports that Oppenheimer got a “U/A Certificate” from India’s board of film certification, which is roughly equivalent to a 12A rating in the UK.

The publication also reports that Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut originally contained a song on the soundtrack with a line from the Bhagavad Gita during an orgy scene. Warner Bros. later removed the scene and issued a public apology.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)