Hindu film makers call St Bernadette’s message relevant today

07 Jan 2009

By The Record

PANAJI, India (CNS) – A recent film on St Bernadette Soubirous shows how ordinary people can make a difference, said the film’s producer and director, both Hindus from India.

bernadette1.jpgVR Gopinath, who directed “Our Lady of Lourdes,” said he made the movie because the saint’s modest way of living, dedication to her ideals and faithfulness to her call are “important messages to the present society.”
St Bernadette first saw Mary in 1858 in Lourdes, in southern France.
The movie, which premiered on December 21, 2008 in Panaji, capital of coastal Goa state, was shot in the southern state of Kerala, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
Ajna Noiseux, a 14-year-old girl of French origin living in Kerala, plays St Bernadette.
“The movie shows that an ordinary person, without money, can make a difference in the world,” said Kamalakar Rao, the producer.
“St Bernadette’s story is of selfless service.”
Rao told UCA News that personal visits to Lourdes in 2006 and 2007, and the encouragement of Archbishop Joji Marampudi of Hyderabad helped him complete the film.
Rao lives in Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh state, about 460 miles northeast of Panaji.
At the 2008 French film festival on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Mary’s appearances to St Bernadette, the film attracted rave reviews from the French media, particularly because it was made “by a Hindu,” Rao told UCA News.
In 2007, the movie won an honourable mention at the Accolade Film Awards in San Diego, and the audience award for best feature film at the Pause and Play International Film Festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Made in English, the movie also has been dubbed in French, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.
Rao said the movie has “universal appeal,” despite family and friends having criticised him for not making a commercially viable movie, while others argued he should have made a movie on Hindu spiritualism.
Though St Bernadette lived in poverty, she was born into a family with comfortable means. After her family fell on hard times, they lived in a former town jail. St Bernadette shunned the attention that followed the Marian visions.
She sought seclusion and entered religious life with the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction at Nevers, France.
She remained hidden from the world and died in 1879 of tuberculosis of the bone.