By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Jan 10 (IANS) Be it on expensive TV commercials, internet space, popular social networking sites, posters, other audio-video mediums or his followers dressed in colorful MSG attire moving around in malls – he is all over.
As his first movie – “Messenger of God” or “MSG” – hits over 4,000 screens across the country January 16, self-styled guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is ready to unveil his new avatar as a film-star.
The hype over the release of the Hindi action-thriller is already building up, especially among the 47-year-old spiritual leader’s followers. And, if the authorities at his Dera Sacha Sauda sect are to be believed, there are over 50 million of them.
“It is for the first time in the history of the music industry that bookings of over 10 lakh (one million) audio CDs were made before the launch by Sony Music. The music is trending on several popular sites globally. It is among the bestsellers on Amazon and Flipkart,” Aditya Insan, an adviser and close aide of the sect leader, told IANS.
The sect leader is himself on a tight and hectic promotional tour of the movie country-wide. “MSG’ will also be dubbed in other Indian languages for an all-India release.
The idea of making a movie and projecting himself in rockstar fashion, according to Insan, was to “reach out to youth”.
“Guruji has been working for a number of social causes like drug de-addiction and preventing prostitution and alcoholism, among others. He said that the present generation of youth was not as inclined towards spirituality and was more into movies, concerts and social media. So he decided to reach out to them through an entertainment package,” Insan said.
“Vocals, lyrics, composition and direction by His Holiness Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan” is what the poster of MSG reads with a big photo of the sect leader clad in the figure-hugging clothes of a western rockstar and driving an expensive cruiser bike dominating it.
While “MSG” is releasing next week, the sect leader has “completed 80 percent shooting” of its sequel too, Insan said.
The movies were shot with Bollywood professionals and leading entertainment teams. A live concert, with over 125,000 followers was recorded in a stadium in Sirsa recently and will be part of MSG.
The sect leader, who has been mired in a controversy since 2001 and is facing murder and rape cases in courts, lives in his sprawling sect headquarters near Sirsa town in Haryana, over 250 km from here.
Being on the hit-list of Sikh terrorists, he enjoys Z-plus category security and moves around in a bullet-proof Land Cruiser SUV and other luxury vehicles.
Describing his music as of the “religious” genre and “gospel” in style, the sect leader completed a century of rock shows last year. His latest rock album was “Highway Love Charger”. His earlier albums include “Network Tere Love Da”, “Thank U for That” and “Insan – one who lives for others”.
The sect claims that millions of his music CDs have been sold, most of them being lapped up by his followers. His songs and music encourage youth and other people to keep away from evils like drugs, prostitution and alcohol.
The sect leader’s two rock shows last year in New Delhi saw the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and the Ramlila Maidan jampacked. These were rock shows number 101 and 102.
The titles of his songs are equally interesting: “Atom Bomb”, “Kya Khoob”, “Charge Me”, “Bhrashtrachar”, “Lov” et al.
Apart from encouraging people to keep away from social evils, the Dera Sacha Sauda sect has featured in the Guinness World Records for orgainising the biggest blood donation camp. The sect has rehabilitated prostitutes, transgenders, alcoholics and drug addicts and has led in disaster relief – from the 2004 Tsumani to last year’s flash floods in Uttarakhand.