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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 11:57 GMT
Protest at Tina Turner Hindu role
Tina Turner and Ismail Merchant
Tina Turner and Ismail Merchant visited India together
Tina Turner's appearance as a Hindu goddess in a Merchant Ivory film is proving controversial as pickets of cinemas are already being threatened.

The singer is to play Shakti, the divine mother, in the film The Goddess.

A petition is already in circulation in the UK, protesting about Turner, 64, being cast in the role.

Shaunaki Rishi Das, of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, says some believe a rock star is an unsuitable person to portray the revered goddess.

Hindu Human Rights, a UK-based Hindu organization, has circulated a petition to be presented to Merchant Ivory Productions, accusing the makers of turning the goddess into a "musical joke".

So that any person that plays Shakti, be it in a play or any representation, has to be very pure in their lifestyle
Shaunaki Rishi Das
"We have no quarrel with Turner as such, but because of her reputation as a 'sex icon' it is improper to cast her," the petition reads.

Mr Das told the BBC's World Service: "Any representation of Shakti, be it in any film or a picture or in deity form, is considered to be a representation of the goddess herself.


"So that any person that plays Shakti, be it in a play or any representation, has to be very pure in their lifestyle.

"In India, the Hollywood actresses, even though they may not be totally pure in their lifestyle, they know how to play the game enough," he added.

"They know the culture well enough not to offend the deity in their portrayal.

"And some people will be concerned that it could be the case that here is someone who waltzes in after a night on the town, plays the divine mother, and then waltzes back out for a night on the town and that wouldn't be acceptable to many devotees," he added.

The goddess Shakti is the personification of female divinity, power and energy, who wears a necklace of skulls.

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