OPPENHEIMER, from left: Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2023. ph: Melinda Sue Gordon / © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

‘Oppenheimer’ sex scene involving sacred text sparks reactions in India: ‘amounts to waging war on Hindu community’

Updated: Variety added to reports that a nude scene with Florence Pugh in “Oppenheimer” was censored in a computer-generated black dress to secure release in India and the Middle East.

Before: A sex scene in ‘Oppenheimer’ is facing backlash and protests in India, where a moment where J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and his lover Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh) read a Hindu sacred text together in bed has sparked outrage and reportedly censorship.

“Oppenheimer” has been approved with a U/A certificate – meaning that children under 12 can view the film under parental guidance – from India’s Central Board of Film Certification. Christopher Nolan’s three-hour IMAX epic also performed well at the box office in India, where Nolan has a strong fan base. But now officials in India are calling for the film to be further censored despite now allegedly featuring a CGI-created suit superimposed over Pugh’s naked body during a post-coital moment later in the film. (IndieWire reached out to “Oppenheimer” Universal about this allegation shared online and apparently corroborated by the public residing in India as well as those in Indonesia.)

The scene criticized by Indian officials involves Oppenheimer and Tatlock midway through the report when he stops to pull a copy of the “Bhagavad Gita” off a shelf and asks Murphy to read a passage. He reads, “I have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds,” which occurred to Oppenheimer during the detonation of the atomic bomb he developed at Los Alamos. The ‘Bhagavad Gita’ is featured in the ‘Mahabharata’ and depicts the dialogue between a prince and the divine Krishna during battle.

In a letter addressed to Christopher Nolan shared on Twitter, Indian Information Commissioner and founder of Save Culture Save India Foundation and Hindu Nationalist Party affiliate Uday Mahurkar called the film a “fierce attack on Hinduism” over the weekend.

Mahurkar wrote, “It occurred to us that the film ‘Oppenheimer’ contains a scene that viciously attacks Hinduism. According to social media reports, one scene in the film shows a woman making a man read Bhagwad Geeta aloud while she forgets him and engages in sexual intercourse. She holds Bhagwad Geeta in one hand and the other hands seem to regulate the position of their reproductive organs. The Bhagwad Geeta is one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism. Geeta has been the inspiration for countless sanyasis, brahmcharis and legends who live a life of self-restraint and perform selfless noble deeds. We don’t know the motivation and logic behind this pointless scene about the life of a scientist. But this is a direct attack on the religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus, rather tantamount to waging war against the Hindu community and almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy of anti-Hindu forces.”

The letter concluded: “We urge, on behalf of billions of Hindus and the timeless tradition of lives transformed by revered Geeta, that you do whatever is necessary to uphold the dignity of their revered book and remove this scene from your film worldwide. If you choose to ignore this call, it would be considered a deliberate assault on Indian civilization.”

According to VarietyIndian Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur requested NDTV for the scene to be completely cleared.