Audio-visual media as a means of spreading a message - not a novel idea, and not a controversial one either. It is, after all, a free country, or so you are told, and therefore, when a certain spiritual leader decides to use the medium to spread his message, it should not be as big a deal as it is being made out to be. Is it a movie worth watching, though?
To begin with, the name of the movie is confusing - does it stand for Messenger of God, or Messenger, or Messenger of the Son of God? Not that it matters, once it is clear that this is a movie with a message.
Guruji (Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan) is, as expected, a spiritual leader, but he is also much more than that. He is a man trying to adapt his teachings to a modern world, and trying to get rid of some of the more harmful aspects of a modern lifestyle - such as alcoholism and drug addiction. He is multi-talented/faceted, and very popular, but not everybody sees him as a saviour.
Guruji's message is very clear - like most preachers, he believes in spreading the love of humankind, and that itself should transcend all religions and petty disputes. He has a dedicated following, from all across the world, and he declares himself the messenger of God. The constantly increasing addition to his followers, however, does not go down well with certain people.
You see, Guruji has cured many people of their dependence on drugs and alcohol. The numbers are too large to be ignored by the anti-social elements who depend on the sales of the same for their living. Guruji has become too big a thorn in their flesh, and he needs to be eliminated. And his biggest enemy has a plan that involves recruiting one of Guruji's trusted devotees.
Will Guruji figure out who the traitor is? And will his enemies regain control over the weak and the easily tempted? Well, in MSG Guruji is no mere mortal to be so easily threatened.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan is the director, producer, lyricist, music director, actor and many other things in the film. It does not make much sense with this one to concentrate on the story and other technical issues that make a movie, because this is a movie like no other. MSG is a message, literally, that tells you about Insan, who may preach the message of brotherhood, but is also a superhero of sorts. He plays football, hip hops, sings, flies (almost), and is filled with sublime humility through it all. He is beatific and comforting, trying to make life easy for the rest of the world.
MSG also tells you that although all foreigners are not evil (like in the days of Tom Alter and Bob Cristo), you can never really trust them. They need to make their place in your heart before you can lend them your hand in support and friendship. Because, as you know, India and her history are envied by many.
Insan is effectively the only actor in this, because this movie is all about him, and also because he is in each frame - almost. His acting skills are nothing to write home about, but his intentions seem sincere, even if he portrays himself in such a larger-than-life avatar. And since he is the only subject in the film, the other actors pale in comparison - even seasoned ones such as Gaurav Gera, whose role is not very well-defined.
No expense has been spared in the process of this movie making an impact, and it does, with its production design. The sets are large and gaudy, and it is obvious that money has been spent. Ditto for the costumes, although Insan insists that he dresses like the common man. The abundance of bling is blinding, to say the least. The cinematographer revels in the action sequences (yes, there are quite a few stunts), but seems lost otherwise. Ditto for the editor, who lets MSG drag on for over three hours. As for the songs, they are average, and not very catchy, but the lyrics will haunt you for a while (written by Insan, of course).
MSG has received plenty of flak for various reasons, and is not a movie that you would want to spend time on normally. On the other hand, it may be fascinating enough to change the way you perceive cinema. You cannot ignore the film, and you cannot write Insan off either. Be warned.