• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Bollywood Jesus

    This Easter, I was surprised when watching Channel 4's The Passion: Films, Faith & Fury that they covered one Jesus film I had never heard of. Dayasagar, also known as Daya Sagar, Oceans of Mercy, Karunamoorthy, Karunamayudu and no doubt a number of other titles was made in 1978/1985 using Hindi actors and crew. Unfortunately, I've very little knowledge of the Indian Film Industry in general (other than the fact it's the second biggest film industry in the world), and the distinctives of Bollywood specifically.

    Anyway, I finally got hold of a copy in the post, and hope to watch it soon, and offer some thoughts here. However, there are a few articles around to read about the film which, thus far, has mainly been used for evangelism, (almost entirely inside India). The film is distributed in India by Dayspring International and they have a couple of articles on the film, including a "documentary" which features a couple of clips from the film. There's also a useful article at Christianity Today , and it has it's own website of sorts

    I've already had a few people contacting me to ask if I know where you can buy a DVD. There are one or two places, most notably indiaplaza.com. There's also an IMDb page which has very little information at the moment other than the filming locations which included Calcutta and Mumbai. There's also a few notes on the film at expressindia.com (under the heading "God Speed") including the following.
    Produced by Radha Chitra, in collaboration with Amruthrani Communications and Day Spring and CBN (USA), it's directed by Dr Vijaya Chander who also plays Christ. Earlier, he had also done a Telugu film on Christ called Karunamayudu in 1978...Dharmesh Tiwari, Suresh Chatural, Girija Shankar, Sana, Ashwini Kalsikar play key roles in this epic which is also being dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu.
    Finally, there will be a paper given on the film at the Fifth International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture by Dwight Friesen called "Karunamayudu: A Vision of Jesus in Indian Cinema".

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    • At 6:29 pm, May 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Hey, Matt

      It was good of you to post a note about my upcoming paper. Thank you. It will be quite short and part of a panel presentation, but if someone's going to be there, great. I missed the BBC special, so I'm not sure what was mentioned and what wasn't, but I'd like to make one clarification. The expressindia link that you make note of refers to a TV serial that was a kind of follow up to Karunamayudu (Telugu for 'Man of Compassion'; 1978)/Daya Sagar (Hindi for 'Ocean of Mercy). From what I've been able to gather the success of the serial was not as great as the film.

      The original film was produced by Vijay Chandar (who also played Jesus), directed by A. Bheem Singh, with screenplay by C. Coelho. Music was by Joseph Krishna and B. Gopalam.

      The story of its production is fascinating and rather convoluted and covers a five year period. It ran for a record 100 days in some cinemas. Contrary to what the IMDb suggests at the moment, it was not produced primarily by Christians or Christian actors although Coelho is a Catholic priest and there were some Christians involved. However, as noted, Dayspring now oversees its distribution for use in Christian witness.

      I plan to get a site up soon with some more details. Your blog is an inspiration. I've been compiling info on this film for quite awhile and hope something will be published on it soon, though I don't have precise publication details to offer at the moment. Will let you know when I know more.

      All the best,

      Dwight Friesen

    • At 10:10 am, May 23, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      I must admit that I'm a bit confused by the dates and the different version of this film. THe IMDB lists the film as 1985. Is that an error? My current understanding (based on what you've posted above and I've read elsewhere) is that the film was made in 1978, and was quickly follwed up by a longer series. Is that correct? And if so what does 1985 have to do with anything?


    • At 10:53 pm, May 25, 2006, Blogger D H Friesen said…

      I have not yet been able to trace a connection between Daya Sagar and the year 1985, as listed in the IMDb. At first I thought it might refer to the TV serial that was broadcast under the same name, but that was in the mid to late '90s, I believe. Not quite sure what to think. Still haven't gotten around to contacting the IMDb, but I should.

      Sorry I can't help more on that one, Matt.

      Dwight Friesen

    • At 9:35 am, May 26, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks Dwight - that clarifies at least that when we put a date on this film we are talking about 1978, not 1985 as I first thought.

    • At 12:09 pm, June 06, 2006, Blogger Matt Page said…

      There's a few details of another seminar Dwight led on this film From 2005

    • At 6:23 pm, March 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      In the academical journal Exchange 36/1 (2007), p. 41-64, I wrote an article about the two Jesus films released in India, Karuna Mayudu (1978), of which Daya Sagar is the Hindi dubbed version, and Shanti Sandesham (2004). Its title is: 'Shanti Sandesham, A New Jesus Film Produced in India: Indian Christology in Pictures'. I suppose that it can be downloaded from internet next month.


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