Fake godmen! Bobby Deol, Prakash Jha hope to create an awareness through their ‘Aashram’

Jha and his lead actor get talking about their upcoming web series that speaks about exploitation by self-styled spiritual gurus

By Anannya Srusti

Bobby Deol in Aashram [2020]

Filmmaker Prakash Jha will be stepping into the OTT world with the web series ‘Aashram’. The series with an ensemble cast led by actor Bobby Deol would focus on the self proclaimed fake godmen who invest spiritual belief in the minds of innocent people only to con them in the name of religion and faith. Deol plays the leading character of Baba Nirala, who under the guise of a godman, exploits vulnerable followers – at least so the trailer suggests. 

History has shown that us that it is never been easy to bring dubious godmen/women to justice.  Once people begin to follow, a flood erupts. A dialogue from the trailer aptly summarizes the dangers of blind faith in the society. 

When asked is there any hope for objectivity to flow amidst this storm of blind faith, Deol replied, “It [web series] gives you a message and awareness about what is happening in the society and it is dealing with blind faith,”

Over the years, we’ve seen one too many controversial spiritual gurus, godmothers mushrooming, all having a strong following. Deol expressed how the vulnerability of people make them fall prey to con artistes.

“People make mistakes in their lives and they should learn from that. Blind faith takes you into a situation where you make mistakes without knowing. In the web series, you can see what is happening with yourself as it is based on what is happening in the society. So I guess that awareness will definitely make a lot of change.”

Jha, who is known to make socio-political films like Gangaajal (2003), Raajneeti (2010), Satyagraha (2013) and Aarakshan’ (2011), believes that the series would help people understand where to put their faith in and differentiate between enlightened, educated spiritual leaders and the tricksters.

When asked about pseudo spirituality becoming a money making business and if there is a way to discern the fake from the genuine master seeker, the filmmaker said, “Well it is difficult to find the master gurus and the seekers. They do not exhibit themselves. They do not live in public. They are constantly working and seeking and trying to align themselves with matters which are beyond us”

Jha adds, “The ones who are working in public, the (fake) gurus who are actually bringing disrepute to dharma and our gurus and our great treasure of spiritualism are the ones who are exploiting people under the guise of faith. They are criminals, so it’s not very difficult to discern them. “

Jha iterated that this series is about people who are actually bringing disrepute to the religion.

Many a fake godmen stand exposed but what about the divisive, abusive, hate [political] agenda that has been seeping into the social media. Can this flooding can be checked? 

“Thankfully, I am not on social media. I do not subscribe to this. It’s all reflective of our society, our mindset, and the times that we are going through,” says Jha. 

The filmmakers called upon all to be respectful and imbibe the virtue of compassion. 

“I think that there has to be better education,  better understanding, better values incorporated in our lives, better aims and more awareness. What we have lost is general human compassion. We have become very crude and rude,” explained the director. 

Jha reckoned that competition has perhaps made us lose our values.

“If you are asking me how do we stop these hate messages or hate treatment, I don’t really have a solution apart from the fact that I think you know we should all work towards it.  We should all keep on talking to each other. We should help each other,” quipped Jha.

Aashram is set to be released on  MX Player from 28 August.

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