Hindu Goddess’s Depiction as 21st Century Modern Woman Roils Indians

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“Waarrior Savitri,” the newest offering of Indian American film director Param Gill scheduled for release in India and the U.S. Aug. 25, has received considerable backlash for its depiction of the Hindu goddess as a modern, 21st-century woman.

Effigies bearing the image of the award-winning director have been burned in Raipur and elsewhere across India, according to local media reports.

Sushil Malhotra, president of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum, observed that the film “makes a mockery of a revered Indian goddess.” He said the film was “obscene.”

The Indian epic Mahabharata tells the story of goddess Savitri, who used the power of her dedication to her husband Satyavan to save him from being killed by Yama, the god of death. In Hindu mythology, Savitri is described as the epitome of a dutiful wife.

Gill and his team chose to depict Savitri as a strong, empowered, 21st-century woman, who practices martial arts to combat her enemies. Savitri is also shown in shots depicting sexual intimacy. She is also shown wearing sexy clothing, including cut-off shorts and bustiér-style tops.

The film is set in Las Vegas, Nev. Gill told India-West he was inspired by the 2012 gang rape of a young New Delhi student who died after the brutal attack. “I thought women needed to empower themselves, and learn martial arts to protect themselves,” he said.

Gill also pointed out that sex selection is rampant in India and women’s survival is at stake. Fathers, he said, should empower their daughters.

“More martial arts, fewer dance classes,” he said.