Sir Ben Guru

I got a quick phone interview with Ben Kingsley in ’05 before he turned up at Cinequest, the San Jose Film Festival. I listened raptly while he told a few stories about growing up in north England, playing in a skiffle band, seeing an Italian neo-realist movie and what not. I didn’t have room to print an anecdote of movie love when he was a child, seeing “that glorious lady with the torch at the beginning of a Columbia movie” (and I withheld the smart-ass retort “Yeah! She was the Three Stooges’ escort!”).
But at the end of the interview, even I was moved when he thundered in that thunderous stage-trained voice at the end of the interview…a ringing challenge to all who dare challenge the magic of acting: “I will not trivialize what I do!”
This weekend, “Sir Ben,” as Cinequest’s publicists referred to him, is playing, in The Love Guru, a cross-eyed divine called “Guru Tugginmypudha,” who pees in a bucket and makes his acolytes fight with wee-soaked mops. The blame for this switch should rest on Mike Myers’ round and diminutive shoulders, but since Kingsley presumably read the script before he signed the check, whom can we blame this particular act of trivialization?

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