LOS ANGELES – Deepak Chopra has something to say about Hindu opposition to Mike Myers' new movie: Get over it.
The best-selling author and spiritual teacher is defending "The Love Guru," a comedy in which Myers plays an aspiring self-help guru who aims to achieve Chopra's level of popularity. Chopra posted an essay online in response to those in the Hindu community who say "The Love Guru" is offensive and mocks important tenets of their faith.
"The premature outcry against the movie is itself religious propaganda," Chopra writes, noting that the protesters based their views on the film's 2 1/2-minute trailer. "As viewers will find out when the movie is released this summer, no one is more thoroughly skewered in it than I am — you could even say that I am made to seem preposterous."
Chopra, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, said he and Myers have been friends for 15 years. The two appeared together last year in an episode of "Iconoclasts," a series of short documentaries on the Sundance Channel, and Myers wrote the foreword to Chopra's latest book, "Why is God Laughing?" — which explores the relationship between comedy and spirituality.
Chopra inadvertently inspired "The Love Guru." During a period of depression, Myers discovered Chopra's books and videos and began imitating his accent, Chopra said. Myers tried out his new character in New York comedy clubs and began to write the film.
"The teachings in this comedy are fictional and non-denominational," Myers told The AP in a statement. "They are based on a made up system called D.R.A.M.A. D.R.A.M.A. is Distraction, Regression, Adjustment, Maturity and Action. It's a mythical creation. It's like The Force in 'Star Wars.'"
The comedian sought Chopra's blessing on the concept and script before moving forward with the movie, Chopra told The Associated Press.
"He said, 'Listen, it's kind of a satire. It's a lampoon,'" Chopra said, recalling Myers' words. "He said on the surface it's like that, but on a deeper level, it's a tribute."
Myers "has the most profound understanding of Eastern wisdom, traditions and spirituality," Chopra said. "In the end, the movie is about self-esteem and love. It is about, in fact, love being the ultimate truth. He goes about it in a very silly, humorous way, but that's his style."
Rajan Zed, a self-described Hindu leader who has led protests against "The Love Guru," says the film "appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus" and uses sacred terms frivolously.
"People are not very well-versed in Hinduism, so this might be their only exposure," he told the AP in March. "They will have an image in their minds of stereotypes. They will think most of us are like that."
But Chopra, who cites various spiritual influences but does not consider himself religious "in the traditional sense," said the film is all in fun and could increase awareness of Hindu culture. He called Zed's efforts "a cry for importance" and "a sign of deep insecurity."
"It's a sign that your faith has become a cover up for all your insecurities because you can't even take a joke," Chopra said. "Mike is bringing attention to some very profound truths and these people haven't even seen the movie."
Paramount Pictures is set to release "The Love Guru" June 20.