Oppenheimer sex scene featuring sacred Hindu text Bhagavad Gita sparks outrage in India

A sex scene in box office smash hit Oppenheimer has sparked outrage in India with social media users threatening to boycott the nuclear arms biopic.

The scene, featuring US physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (portrayed by Irish actor Cillian Murphy) reciting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita – a sacred Hindu scripture – before having sex has been branded a “scathing attack on Hinduism”.

Nationalist group Save Culture Save India (SCSI) Foundation said the scene should be “investigated… on an urgent basis” and called for those involved to be “severely punished”.

On the test ground for the atomic bomb near Almagordo, N.M., Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, University of California physicist, smokes his pipe as he contemplates the site on Sept. 9, 1945. (AP Photo)

Image: Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was dubbed the ‘father’ of the atomic bomb. Pic: AP

Fury on social media erupted after SCSI founder, Uday Mahurkar, wrote an open letter complaining to the film’s director, Christopher Nolan.

The letter, entitled “Oppenheimer’s disturbing attack on Hinduism”, said: “We do not know the motivation and logic behind this unnecessary scene on [the] life of a scientist.

“But this is a direct assault on the religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus, rather it amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community and almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces.”

Mr Mahurkar described the Bhagavad Gita as “one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism” which has inspired thousands of people to “live a life of self control and perform selfless noble deeds”.

He called on Nolan to axe the controversial scene, telling him: “We urge, on behalf of billions of Hindus and timeless tradition of lives being transformed by revered Gita, to do all that is necessary to uphold dignity of their revered book and remove this scene from your film across [the] world.”

And he warned: “Should you choose to ignore this appeal it would be deemed as a deliberate assault on Indian civilisation.”

(left to right) Rami Malek, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt,Florence Pugh and Cillian Murphy attend the UK premiere of Oppenheimer, at the Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square in London. Picture date: Thursday July 13, 2023.

Image: (left to right) Rami Malek, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Cillian Murphym Christopher Nolan and Robert Downey Jr attend the UK premiere of Oppenheimer

However, some people responded to the letter by suggesting the film was “just art”, with one person branding Mr Mahurkar’s claims “ridiculous”.

“These sorts of impotent accusations take away from the real issues happening to and within our community,” one said.

Another responded: “There is nothing morally wrong with the scene. Stop overreacting and treating sex as a taboo.”

Read more:

Christopher Nolan hits out at Warner Bros over shock streaming plans

How Oppenheimer’s legacy still impacts us today

The film stars Murphy as Oppenheimer, who oversaw the creation of the atomic bomb during the Second World War.

It has grossed around 600m rupees (almost £5.71m) since opening in India on Friday, according to Warner Bros Discovery.

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‘Nuclear weapon threat never goes away’

In the UK, Vue said it had the biggest weekend for cinema ticket sales in four years following the release of Oppenheimer and the Barbie film.

The cinema chain said on Sunday that a fifth of its customers purchased tickets to see both films in a social media inspired double-bill dubbed “Barbenheimer”.

Ahead of Oppenheimer’s release, Nolan told Sky News the film was “just a very, very dramatic story about how our world changed forever” and warned – “the danger never goes away”.

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