Letter from New Delhi
By Kul Bhushan
Bhojpuri mega-star Ravi Kishan, plays the role of the enlightened master Osho, aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in a forthcoming movie titled Secrets of Love. The shooting for this movie was completed last year and it is due for release in the near future. The film is directed by Ritesh S Kumar and is inspired by some important events of Osho’s life, according to media reports.
A seasoned actor with over 650 films in Bhojpuri, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi, Ravi Kishan is a television personality and a politician as the current Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, from Gorakhpur. He works predominantly in Bhojpuri and Hindi cinema with a wider presence in South Indian cinema.
Playing Osho has been a challenge as he told Bombay Times, “When you are asked to play the character of a cult personality who is not only controversial, but also has a massive following, the responsibility is a lot more. In order to portray the role as accurately as possible, I had to read many of his books and do a lot of research. I had my director by my side to help me out, so it was easy, but still we were careful about everything and had proper research in place.”
Ravi Kishan also revealed that it was his eyes that got him the role. He said, “When I asked Ritesh why did he approach me for the role, he said that my eyes are very similar to Osho’s and he has seen the Osho getup on my photographs, which is very much like him.” Shooting for the film and playing Osho was a ‘good experience’. He added, “It’s intriguing how one could never interpret his calm mind. Unka shaant chith bilkul akhandit tha.” (His calm mind was total.)
Osho has been a favourite subject for many film producers and directors. In 2018, filmmaker Shakun Batra was reported to have embarked on a project based on Osho and his personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela. It was speculated that Aamir Khan would be playing Osho and Alia Bhatt would portray Ma Anand Sheela. But this news petered away.
In 2019, super star Priyanka Chopra Jonas announced during her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in USA that she would be featuring in a biopic on Ma Anand Sheela. Soon after, Ma Sheela denied giving permission for the movie.
Long-time Osho disciple and a movie director, Italy’s Lakshen Sucameli, has been working on a script titled Osho: Lord of the Full Moon for over seven years. An Osho disciple since 1978, Lakshen has lived in Osho’s communities in India and the US since he first met the mystic in 1978. Lakshen founded Navala Productions in 1992, and has directed two films, Blue Line and Zorba the Buddha, according to a fund-raising website set up for the biopic.
He roped in Kamlesh Pandey, another long-time Osho disciple and an award-winning scriptwriter for this project. Pandey wrote the screenplay for the hit movie Rang de Basanti which won numerous awards including one for the best script by Pandey who earlier wrote another hit, Saudagar.
Both of them approached well-known Bollywood producer-director Subash Ghai for this project as Ghai has been reading Osho for over 30 years and based his superhit film, Taal, on Osho vision of rising in love.
In the screenplay of Osho: Lord of the Full Moon, a female TV journalist puts her career on the line trying to examine whether the guru is a conman or an enlightened genius.
“I had always been meaning to make a film on the life and times of Osho but had decided to wait for the right time,” said Ghai. “I have been reading Osho’s writings critically for over 30 years,” he told PTI in an interview in the India Pavilion of the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. “Osho talks sense, he talks about the truth behind the truth, he talks about human values, traditions and laws and about man’s relationship with God.”
Pandey claims that famous Hollywood Al Pacino was approached to play Osho but this project fell by the wayside as the Osho commune in Pune denied permission.
The only successful Hindi film on Osho has been Rebellious Flower released in 2016. Directed by Krishan Hooda in his directorial debut, it was written and produced by an Osho disciple, Swami Jagdish Bharti and had the approval of Pune’s Osho commune. It presents Osho’s early years until he became enlightened and was well-received by his disciples and admirers. A low-budget film since it was mostly shot in villages and rural outdoors where Osho lived his early years, the film won Special Mention Jury Award at 12th Salento International Film Festival, Italy. After this success, Jagdish Bharti has written the screenplay for a sequel covering Osho’s life from Jabalpur to Mumbai, on the Pune and USA until he left his body. This would be a big budget film due to its locales and the number of actors needed.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what ‘secrets of love’ are revealed in the new movie.
Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi
* Published in print edition on 5 March 2021