Bombay (AsiaNews/Ucan) "Undoubtedly, it is a visually violent film. However, its universal message of non-violence, forgiveness, tolerance, harmony and peace warrants that it be seen by all people, including children," said Anjan Srivastava, a Hindu censor for the Central Board of Film Certification, after seeing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ".
Srivastava, together with 4 other members of the same government office, have proposed that the film be rated "U/AA", India's equivalent of a "unrestricted" viewing for general audiences. Such a rating that would allow even small children to see the film if accompanied by adults or educational institutions.
Previously the film was rated "A", that is, restricted for "adults only". Yet after the team of film censors previewed the film, they are now in common agreement that the "Passion" sends moviegoers a message of peace and thus deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
The film will debut in India this May 15. In the meantime, heated debate is heard across the nation.
According to Srivastava, the film is "most relevant also to educate the fundamentalists bashing minority communities in the name of religion." In India numerous attacks on Christians and Muslims by Hindu extremists have been reported recently.
Mahesh Bhatt, an important Indian film director, believes that every Indian in the country should see the film, "because the nation is being torn apart by sectarian violence and religious intolerance."
However, not everyone is of the opinion that 'The Passion' will bring about further peace among the nation's different creeds of faith.
Some weeks ago, an editorial appeared in the March 7 edition of The Times of India, in which the writer said Christ Himself would be against Gibon's depiction of His Passion, criticizing it as an indictment against the Jews for the Crucifixion. The author, speaking for Christ in the first person, asks: "Why are they doing this? Why must I suffer this agony over and over again? Why must I suffer that worst of all sufferingsthat others suffer in My name?", referring to history's innumerable accounts of violence and bloodshed in the name of religion.
Meanwhile news is spreading around the world of people who have been inspired after seeing the film, including numerous accounts of men and women who have made heroic choices afterward: a neo-nazi confessed and denounced his actions, a man who murdered his girlfriend surrendered to police, countless individuals have been moved to a deeper spiritual view of life and show more compassion for others.
Many agree with Bhatt, who said, "the story of Christ is an extraordinary tale of tolerance, brotherhood, and forgiveness, superbly captured by a talented film maker."