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“MSG: The Messenger” is much, much worse than we thought it would be

Even before Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s MSG: The Messenger was released, the verdict was clear—the film is terrible.

But, the question all along was: how terrible?

By all accounts, MSG: The Messenger is a work of propaganda—for, of, by and about Singh, the head of a controversial spiritual group, Dera Sacha Sauda. He projects himself as the ultimate saviour of mankind in the film in which he has done it all: from direction and production to acting and composing music.

The film was earlier denied release by the censor board, which argued that it was not a film, but an advertisement that promoted blind faith. However, the government insisted on its release, causing a shake-up of the entire censor board panel. The chairman and nine other members resigned on grounds of political interference.

The controversy is now behind the film as it hit theatres on Friday (Feb. 13), but Indian film critics clearly aren’t in love with this celluloid wonder.

Raja Sen, Rediff.com

A whopping 197 minutes long, this is a poorly assembled, terrifically tacky and tremendously ill-conceived showcase for a self-styled spiritual leader — self-styled because no costume designer in the world could match up to this man. Never ever…

Rating: NO RATING. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE.

Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in

Had Fifty Shades of Grey arrived in India on February 13 as scheduled, it would have faced competition from MSG The Messenger in the BDSM department.

Shubhra Gupta, Indian Express

Oh my eyes. I was at last night’s premiere of ‘MSG, Messenger Of God’, and I’m still to recover. The Dera Sacha Sauda chief who appears In and As in the movie, was right there, amongst us lesser mortals. And I was hard put to figure where there was more glitter, off or on screen.

But make no mistake, ‘MSG’ is no movie. It is a lavish home video shot in a very homely style (‘coz silly sophistication would ruin it, no?), fashioned cunningly like your old-style Bollywood potboiler, for the delectation of his vast number of fan-followers.

Suprateek Chatterjee, The Huffington Post

… a hilariously terrible film which unfortunately falls just short of so-bad-it’s-good perfection on account of being bad at being bad (I am aware that this might be the weirdest sentence ever written in a film review).

… It is supremely preachy and wears its regressive biases on its sleeve by being cheerfully sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic enough to make even Sajid Khan blush. For heaven’s sake, it is barely even a film – for the most part, it simply comes across as a Bollywoodised PR statement that glorifies the colourful life of its 47-year-old protagonist.

Suhani Singh, Daily O

Bollywood filmmakers have been criticised for taking audiences for a ride with shoddy scripts and wafer-thin stories. But here is a film which doesn’t bother coming up with either of two key elements needed in a film. In his final monologue, devoted to lamenting about how his goodwill is misconstrued, Insan repeatedly says, “Humne koi galti toh nahi kar di?” I could only think, “Maine yeh film dekh ke galti kar di”. But then what do I know. A sequel is already in the works. Reportedly, 80 per cent complete.

Rohit Khilnani, India Today

Action scenes are hilarious and so are the dialogues. There are way too many songs which come back to back with all kinds of social messages in your face. The duration of this film is three hours and seventeen minutes but trust me there is never a dull moment.

We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

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