The release of the three-hour drama “Oppenheimer” on July 21 was met with both critical acclaim and commercial success.
The film delves into the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist pivotal in the development of the atomic bomb, and boasts an impressive all-star cast.
However, it seems that the movie’s journey to success hit a major roadblock, as a particular scene has caused uproar among some viewers, leading to calls for a boycott.
The controversy stems from a scene in which the real-life Oppenheimer’s fascination with Hinduism is portrayed.
Allegedly, he translated the Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit to English and revered the religious text during his lifetime. However, in the film, this aspect is depicted in a sexually explicit context that has offended some Hindus in parts of India.
Uday Mahurkar, a journalist and founder of Save Culture Save India (SCSI), expressed his concerns in an open letter to the film’s director, Christopher Nolan.
He voiced objections to the scene, claiming it is an attack on Hinduism and disrespects the sacredness of the Bhagavad Gita. Mahurkar, speaking on behalf of “a billion Hindus and timeless tradition,” urged Nolan to remove the scene worldwide to uphold the dignity of the revered scripture.
The backlash gained momentum as social media echoed these sentiments, with Twitter users expressing disapproval of the scene and calling for a boycott of the film altogether.
Interestingly, Cillian Murphy, one of the film’s stars, had previously defended the explicit scenes, describing them as “powerful” and an intentional choice by the director to achieve a certain rating. He praised his co-star Florence Pugh’s remarkable performance, acknowledging the impact she brought to the film.
Amid the controversy, “Oppenheimer” managed to make a significant mark at the box office, grossing an impressive $80.5 million from 3,610 theaters in the US during its debut week.
This success is noteworthy as it marks Christopher Nolan’s biggest non-Batman debut and one of the best starts for an R-rated biographical drama.
Despite the film’s financial triumph, the public’s response to the controversial scene and the subsequent boycott movement have been impossible to ignore.
Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” which also premiered on the same day, experienced its own share of success, claiming the top spot in North America with a whopping $155 million in ticket sales from 4,243 locations.
As the debate surrounding “Oppenheimer” continues, the film’s creators and supporters are grappling with the ethical implications of artistic choices and their potential impact on cultural and religious sensitivities.
The true test lies in whether the film’s captivating narrative and performances will be able to outweigh the controversy and maintain its footing in the competitive landscape of cinema.