460 x 100 TIFFbanner

Hindus urge Cameron to handle upcoming Hollywood film "Avatar" "with sensitivity"

Press releases 2009-02-08


Expressing concern at the much-anticipated Hollywood movie "Avatar", Hindus have urged its director James Cameron to be careful when handling Hindu concepts and terminology.

Acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that "avatar" was one of the central themes of Hinduism and insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes results in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees.

With seasoned and skillful Cameron at the helm, we did not expect any problem, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said and added that they were just asking for more sensitivity towards faith traditions. If Cameron needed any expertise on Hinduism related issues, he or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide the resources, Zed added.

Rajan Zed explains that "Avatar", a Sanskrit term, means descent or incarnation. Hinduism is shaped by its traditional belief in the incarnation of Vishnu (the Preserver in Hindu trinity) into ten forms to establish dharma (divine law), which include Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki (believed to come at the end of present Kaliyuga). Hindus believe that without such intervention, the entire created universe would have gone into decline. Many devotees also regard their respective Gurus as incarnations of the Divine.

In chapter four of ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), Lord Krishna explains the reasons for God's descent: "Whenever dharma declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth". Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly, Rajan Zed points out.

Budgeted up to $300 million, futuristic "Avatar", an upcoming digital 3-D science fiction feature film currently under production, is directed and written by Canada born three Oscars winning 54-years old James Francis Cameron of highest-grossing and 11 Oscars carrying "Titanic" fame. In it, a band of humans, two centuries in the future, are pitted in a heroic battle against a distant planet's indigenous population. It is due to be released in France and Belgium on December 16 and USA on December 18 next.

Cast includes Australia born Sam Worthington (Somersault), Oscar nominated Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight), Zoe Saldana (Guess Who), Giovanni Ribisi (The Gift), Stephen Lang (Gods and Generals), etc. To be shot in Hawaii, California, and New Zealand; produced by Cameron and Jon Landau under Lightstorm Entertainment; and released by 20th Century Fox; it is Cameron's first work as director since Titanic (1997). Music in the film is provided by James Horner and editing by John Refoua and Stephen Rivkin. It is claimed to offer a groundbreaking mix of live-action dramatic performances and computer-generated effects. Cameron described it as "adventure with an environmental conscience".