Mumbai: While a cacophony of protests rose against the anti-ritualistic attack on religion in Umesh Shukla's 'Oh My God', the film's leading man and co-producer Paresh Rawal remains unfazed.
The film is an adaptation of his Gujarati play 'Kanji Virrudh Kanji' and features him as an atheist.
"There was no fear of backlash at all. We were always very sure of what we were saying and doing on ritualistic religion and the way it controls the life of the common man," said Paresh.
"I had performed the same story in play form in front of a thousand audience for 150 shows in Gujarati and Hindi repeatedly. The play has also been performed in Punjabi and English. We never had any protests," Paresh stressed.
"A live audience could've easily expressed it's displeasure at our ideas in the play. Not once did we face any protest. So, I knew we were on stable ground with the film. There was no one throwing shoes in any of the shows. Audiences from the older and younger generations have appreciated the idea beyond the play," he added.
Paresh isn't bothered with the spate of protests against the film.
"Even in Punjab we've been able to release the film almost everywhere. The protestors are seeing and hearing what they want to. And if we are daunted by protests, we'd never be able to extend the reach and impact of the visual medium, be it theatre, television or cinema," said the 62-year-old.
Though the actor believes in God in real-life, he rues that religion is now being merchandised in the country.
"I believe in God. But the costly ways recommended to reach him are wrong. Just who benefits from all the showy rituals, I don't know," he said.
It is being said that the film's co-producer Akshay Kumar, who nursed a life-long ambition of playing God, pushed his way into the film. However, Paresh gives him a clean chit.
"It was really sporting of him to agree to feature in a film where a character actor like me played the lead. He believed in the theme," he said.
The critics have loved film, but Paresh doesn't see himself as a saleable star.
"I am not being modest when I say I don't see producers putting a 50-crore film on my shoulder.It may happen in the future. One never knows," he added.