India has a majestic spiritual past that is recognized and very well respected in the world. The country that has gifted Bhagavad Geeta to the world has never produced a movie that deals with spirituality and after-life in its full glory. Several French and Hollywood movies have attempted such movies, mostly adapting the concepts of Hinduism and Buddhism into drama, action, adventure, philosophical and surrealist movies. But our very own filmmakers lack the knowledge or don’t put effort into making such movies. The Indian films have always been adapting the concepts of Hollywood, while their research breaks into our spiritual past. Someone who lived within India and has been listening to the concepts of spirituality and philosophy of Hinduism can make more profound movies based on these concepts.
We have descriptions of many hells that are situated above the Garbhodaka ocean in Puranas such as Bhagavata Purana, Garuda Purana, and Vishnu Purana. Apart from Hindu scriptures, the descriptions of hell are found in many mythologies around the world and fiction literature. Several religions reject the existence of heaven and hell, and some believe in a single place where the souls dwell afterlife. The Brahma Kumaris consider Kali-yuga as hell. The migration of the soul to hell is also not the same in all cultures. Some believe that the soul would be carried away into hell after death, and some believe that the people are reborn into hell. Overall, spirituality is to see beyond birth and death.
The concepts of soul, birth and death cycle, reincarnation, hell and heaven, near-death experiences, enlightenment, etc have never been explored in Indian cinema in the light of spirituality. We have several Telugu movies that make fun of reincarnation, hell, spirituality and scriptures for the sake of comedy. Some filmmakers make movies just by slightly modifying old movies without putting much effort into them. They never bother to read Puranas to research the subject. After tens of movies made on Lord Yama, the God of death, we have only 3 movies ‘Yama gola’, ‘Yamudiki Mogudu’ and ‘Yama Leela’ that are genuine scripts, almost all others are made by rehashing or rebooting these movies. The only effort they put into the stories is to mock some characters for cheap humor. They don’t experiment or see the philosophy inherent in these scriptures.
While the West has been making even video games about the journey of the soul after death, Telugu filmmakers couldn’t think of anything better than the protagonist reaching ‘Yama Loka’ after his death and manipulating ‘Lord Yama’ into giving him a second chance at life. At the very least, they couldn’t think of another version of hell like that of Dante’s or from Egyptian, Greek, Celtic, Slavic, or Sami mythology or any other version. The filmmakers’ perspective of heaven is a bunch of drunk guys dancing with hot girls and enjoying forever (similar to pubs and bars), and that of hell is people lining up for their turn to receive punishment (similar to the judiciary). The concepts of the multiverse, multiple dimensions, other planets, spiritually higher or lower life forms have never been dealt with. We need at least some filmmakers attempting to shed light on our scriptures to present the concepts of spirituality to our next generations.
We have several movies made on the concept of rebirth, but none of them are spiritual. At best, we have philosophical movies dealing with after-life concepts such as ‘Aa Naluguru’. Almost all of our Telugu movies are centered around and glorify life which is the opposite of the concepts of spirituality that consider life as a prison term on Earth before the soul attains ‘moksha’. Life and experiences are said to be a result of ‘Maya’, the illusion that makes us strongly believe in material life. It is not easy to make a film on spirituality and convince the audience, but the filmmakers have to experiment and come up with such innovative movies instead of churning the run-out-of-mill scripts for decades.
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