Oppenheimer sex scene controversy in India explained

Chris Tilly
Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh in Oppenheimer

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has been a hit all across the world, but it’s become the subject of controversy in India over its sex scene – here’s a breakdown.

Oppenheimer – Christopher Nolan’s new movie about J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the birth of the atomic bomb – is shaping up to be one of the most successful movies of the writer-director’s career.

The film has received near universal acclaim, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. While early numbers have been huge, the period piece garnering Nolan’s biggest opening weekend for a non-Batman movie.

The film has also been a big hit in India, grossing around $3 million, compared to Barbie’s $1 million. But due to a specific scene in the movie, critics in the regions are calling for Oppenheimer to be trimmed, or outright banned.

Oppenheimer sex scene controversy in India explained

Christopher Nolan isn’t known for his sex scenes. But Oppenheimer features multiple such sequences, that play out between title character J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh).

In one scene, Pugh grabs a copy of Holy scripture the Bhagavad Gita, and tells Oppenheimer to read from it. Oppenheimer then says the quote he famously uttered during a TV documentary in 1965: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The scene has caused outrage in some quarters, with demands for the sequence to be removed.

Why the sex scene is considered offensive

India’s Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar posted a lengthy tweet that addresses Christopher Nolan directly.

“This is a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus,” Mahurkar claims, adding that the scene “appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces.”

The message continues: “We believe that if you remove this scene and do the needful to win hearts of Hindus, it will go a long way to establish your credentials as a sensitized human being and gift you friendship of billions of nice people.

“We urge, on behalf of billion Hindus and timeless tradition of lives being transformed by revered Geeta, to do all that is needed to uphold dignity of their revered book and remove this scene from your film across world.  Should you choose to ignore this appeal it would be deemed as a deliberate assault on Indian civilisation.”

As we write this article however, there’s been no response from Christopher Nolan or Universal Pictures. While Oppenheimer continues to play in Indian cinemas unchanged.

Check out our other coverage below:

Oppenheimer review | Ending explained | Epic runtime revealed | R-rating explained | Best way to watch Oppenheimer | Christopher Nolan on sex scenes | Cast and characters | Filming locations | True story explained | Is Oppenheimer streaming? | Nolan ranked by Rotten Tomato scores | Is it based on a book? | Age-gap controversy explained Robert Pattinson’s influence | How Oppenheimer died | Christopher Nolan explains strange script | Did Japan ban Oppenheimer? | Review roundup | Does Oppenheimer have a post-credits scene? | Box office | Was Jean Tatlock murdered? | What happened to Kitty? | Why did Lewis Strauss hate Oppenheimer? | Did Oppenheimer win a Nobel Prize?

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