Outraged Villagers Crash Julia Roberts' Private Eat, Pray, Love Temple
Julia Roberts was supposed to be the one who restored Hollywood's reputation in India, bringing her tasteful adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love this week to a country still stung by the West's one-two punch of The Love Guru and Slumdog Millionaire. She had been held in high esteem there since a recent visit to the Taj Majal (bindi spot and all!), and her tale of a woman finding herself through travel and Hindu spirituality would unite cultures, heal souls and sow respect for years to come. And then she started filming.
According to a report, Roberts' crew and security detail -- totaling 350 in all -- closed down the Ashram Hari Mandir near Delhi, where locals had gathered to begin nine days of worship known as Navratri. Nobody outside the production gang could come and go, and the villagers were furious. "I am going to barge in for the evening aarti (ritual)," said one. "Let's see who stops me. What is it that they are shooting that we cannot even enter our own temple?"
Hello? Eat, Pray, Love? National bestseller? Oprah's Book Club? Anyway, here's hoping the aggrieved worshiper avoided guards' "strict instructions" not to allow any riff-raff into the ashram, and that things return to normal soon. After all, none other than famed Hindu spiritualist Rajan Zed -- who famously sentenced Mike Myers to 1,000 years in hell for his role in The Love Guru -- has endorsed Roberts' serious study of and respect for the Hindu faith to this point. It's all a big misunderstanding, not unlike that time Roberts' category-5 romcom Valentine's Day knocked out power to half of Burbank for an afternoon. These things always work themselves out.