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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound teaching wrapped in a social experiment
Watched this last night with my husband who follows his own Eastern guru, so the irony was not lost on either of us. ;-) Part interesting social experiment, part art project, part truth-seeking, from my perspective. I thought it was artfully done and thoughtfully filmed, considering the hoax being perpetrated on some particularly sensitive, spiritually-minded folks...
Published 20 months ago by Anja

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is truth?
No Spoilers:
The premise of this documentary is that the "author" (Vikram Gandhi) is going to pretend to be a spiritual leader to see if he can hook any possible believers. In the documentary he does hook some folks who continue to come to his classes or teachings.

I have a different take on this Doc. What if the joke is on us, you and me? What if the...
Published 14 months ago by Will O


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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound teaching wrapped in a social experiment, January 13, 2013
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This review is from: Kumare (DVD)
Watched this last night with my husband who follows his own Eastern guru, so the irony was not lost on either of us. ;-) Part interesting social experiment, part art project, part truth-seeking, from my perspective. I thought it was artfully done and thoughtfully filmed, considering the hoax being perpetrated on some particularly sensitive, spiritually-minded folks. Regardless of the filmmaker's motives, which I'm sure were complex based on his own life experience, and viewpoint as an artist and truth-seeker himself, my take-away was that the positive experience of the participants was no less authentic because their teacher was a "big faker," and his method was made up. All of our rituals and beliefs are made up anyway, and the only real reality is that elusive place beyond language and identity we all know is there inside us, and leaves us at some level feeling like something is missing in our lives if we don't connect with it regularly. (Through a blue light meditation, maybe? ;)) Seems like some of the participants found that place of inner truth through Kumare, so does that mean he was a real teacher despite himself, or that the students were their own gurus, as he was insisting? I think it's a bit of both. Watching it unfold was a little gut wrenching, and I was nervous to see the unveiling, since I was already aware that not all the students were appreciative of the method with which they were taught (or victimized depending on their perspective). I'm glad to see that many were understanding and even found it the ultimate teaching, having made a real connection with Kumare, Vikram's "ideal self," who may have started out as a persona, but became something much more.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Hilarious! Courageous! Empowering!, December 15, 2012
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This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
OUCH! Having spent the last 15 years immersed in the US yoga scene, this excellent and insightful documentary hits painfully close to home. Vikram delivers a profound and positive message through the use of light-hearted humor and satire. He manages to expose the irony inherent in the guru industry, while endearing the individual seeker to the viewer.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Watch!, December 19, 2012
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This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
I was eager to watch Kumare after Ghandi appeared on The Colbert Report in July, but the limited runs of this documentary sent it to the back of my mind until a friend brought it up in conversation as to whether or not I had seen it.

I must admit, as a yoga practioner, I was thoroughly moved and impressed at the insight of Ghandi to even set a plan like this into motion. I think it should be watched by all, not just the more spiritually astute or "walkers of the path". It speaks VOLUMES to how desperate the Western society has become for "enlightenment" that they will attach to anyone/thing.

MUST WATCH!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The biggest Faker of all, January 10, 2013
By 
Hotglass (Omaha, Nebraska United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kumare (DVD)
I watched this film knowing full well it was about an Indian man who pretends to be a "Guru." His goal is find that part of American society that so desperately clings to their words and actions purely because they are "Indian" or are "Eastern."
There is an implied thought process that people living in these countries or who declare themselves as "Gurus" are somehow more in touch with their own spirituality and thus can take a poor soulless Westerner under their wing and help them find happiness and peace.
Kumare actually both debunks that myth, as well as showing it to be true. How? you might say. Vikram Ghandi is as American as one can get. But he too wonders about these people who declare themselves to be spiritual guides and willingly accept money and more from those seeking some kind of peace. Are they legitimate He goes to India to find out.
It turns out that its not a stretch for him to pass himself off as "Kumare," especially physically as he grows his hair and beard long. He wears clothing of a "Guru" and carries a staff made up of a design of his own.

He and as he and his helpers begin to introduce him to the yoga centers in Arizona. He is amazed at how easily people are willing to follow him and validate their belief in him so quickly. But he also tells them the truth in his "teachings." Many times he declares himself a "Faker" yet his audience believes his is using a metaphor and not actually revealing that he is faking this persona. He has the Indian accented English down pat, as he explains that he remembers his Grandfather's mode of speech.

Ultimately he must reveal himself as he really is and of course some of "Kumare's" followers are devastated. Yet others , I was astonished to see, were not angry with him, were not hurt at being deceived. Once they realized how quick they were to believe in him, they are insightful enough to question why and still enjoy the company of the man now named Vikram Ghandi.
And Ghandi himself learns a thing or two about the very people he led as a Guru. He finds that a bit of truth actually exists in what he's said as Kumare. But understand that this is also a cautionary tale and you will find yourself wondering as well.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary documentary, January 2, 2013
By 
This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
This is a documentary that works on at least two levels. I found myself unexpectedly moved after watching it.

I'll try to write this without spoilers (well, no important ones).

At its most superficial, and especially in the beginning, Kumare is about people naively believing in gurus, or rather in handing their lives over to other human beings as imperfect as themselves, but who go around wearing fancy robes and dropping Sanskrit jargon.

A brief aside. This phenomenon, the whole guru trip, is an important subject that I have written about elsewhere. While it cannot be denied that there are a small number of truly saintly individuals (Sri Ramana Maharshi being the best known but not the only one), they are a drop in the ocean compared to the huge number of gurus inverted commas who, whether through deliberate deception (which seems to be rare) or genuine self-delusion (thinking themselves having attained a status of "enlightenment") set themselves up as spiritual teachers. Especially in the West, they gather followers, and from there you have to be incredibly pure not to be pulled in by the lure of power, money, or sex. Incidentally, unlike all of these gurus in the West who are looking for students, those very rare authentic teachers never looked for followers, asked favors, or set themselves up above everyone else.

Now, I can only speak of gurus from the perspective of a westerner, for whom all this Hindu and Buddhist stuff is exotic and appealing, because it is so different. But Vikram Gandhi comes from a Hindu culture, and for him the whole hide-bound religiosity of the phenomenon was as absurd as the equally hide-bound literal Christianity or Judaism is be to a free-thinking Westerner like myself. So for him it is astonishing that Westerners are so taken by this stale religion stuff that was forced on him (the only person he has any respect for, and who comes across as a genuinely inspiring figure, is his grandmother). Meeting gurus both in the West and in India he finds them to be nothing but fakes (there is one particularly creepy western guru who sexually takes advantage of his female disciples). So he grows his hair long, puts on orange robes, affects a really authentic sounding Indian broken English accent, and - by now a really striking figure - sets out to be a fake guru teaching fake practices. The purpose, to prove the absurdity of blind religious belief (but without the sexual and financial abuse that drives the guru phenomenon in the West). This part alone is a gem in its brilliant expose of the naivity of people who follow gurus without really questioning their credentials. The implication is glaringly obvious: if people were so quick to follow Vikram, despite him not having any credentials or any authentic yogic knowledge or realisation, it is no wonder that pop gurus, creepy and otherwise, have become a whole industry unto themselves.

But what is amazing, and totally unexpected, is what happens next, and here we go to a whole new level. As soon as Vikram gets involved with people who were taken in by his story, decent people with real problems, looking to him for answers and for help, that he quickly realises that he is in way more deeply and intimately than he ever bargained for. At that point, what started as a funny prank cum social experiment cum expose of human religious gullibility becomes a real journey of discovery for everyone involved.

And it is quite fascinating to see how at this point Vikram's teachings go from bring schoolboy pranks to an authentic giving and receiving on a very profound level.

And all the time, there is the dilemma, how is he going to explain all this to these people who have come to trust him and depend on him? I was watching the documentary and the whole time I was thinking, god, how's he going to get out of this? How are these people going to respond?

At one point Vikram, the (pretend) guru says to his (genuine) followers: "You have each become my greatest gurus"

If more actual fake gurus had that attitude, then maybe they would themselves be able to grow spiritually, and would be less fake and more genuine.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intellectual honesty at its best.............(spoiler alert), February 16, 2013
By 
Keith Dunlap "bachanon" (the woodlands, texas, usa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kumare (DVD)
Intellectual honesty, objectivity, are inside you and are required to transform your behavior (manifest change through free will). Without objectivity we remain bound to self-deception or deception from others. Kumare had a chip on his shoulder about religion and attempted to disprove faith itself. C.S.Lewis tried to disprove all religions objectively. In the "honest" process of truth-seeking Kumare saw the transforming power of belief for the first time. Through relationships he was transformed. Faith was born in Kumare. It was Kumare's awakening that made me cry for half an hour. Call it what you wish, "the gentle wooing of the Holy Spirit" or an "awakening" or "enlightenment". We know it when we see it. His motives may have been cynical but his mind was intellectually honest and as either Lewis or Tolkein said "truth will always out". Notice that the new age posers never spoke to him again. Their self-deception was revealed. They couldn't look in the mirror. The objective seekers, on the other hand, intellectually honest, were empowered by the unveiling. They saw possibilities and hope, their faith in "seeking" was confirmed and bore fruit.

True enlightenment changes behavior going forward. Mental awareness of a thing (like knowledge of Scripture) is not enlightenment. The truths in Scripture exist even if Scripture did not. When belief and universal truth meet, lives change direction.

Kumare is empowering. I questioned the honesty of the followers more than that of Kumare, when he begins to doubt his method and hesitates to reveal the truth about himself, he finds a greater truth. I will revisit this movie experience again and again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, March 14, 2013
This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
It's getting low rated because of the ethics of the situation, people don't like how the group was misled even if it was for their own benefit as well. But I really urge you to watch this movie for yourself and make up your own mind, it's really worth it.

In the beginning, he sets out to expose many gurus as frauds, that pray on people seeking answers, for money, fame and even sex. He dons a beard and an AWESOME walking stick, and begins defining his teachings and seeking pupils.

When he actually gets followers, he is shocked how fast they tell him their life stories, considering he says very little at all. Some critics were appalled at this part and think it exploitative, but I would point out these people already signed a waver to be filmed, so they knew their outpourings of emotions were not just going to be heard by him but whoever saw the documentary. He didn't manipulate them into talking about themselves, they were fine with the whole world seeing it.

What's surprising in this movie is how many times he tells them as frank as you can get that he is a fraud, and they still don't believe him. It really makes you think about how other religions got started. In the bible, Jesus is frequently asked if he is the son of god, to which he always replied he was the son of man. Parallel here? It's easy to see how these things get started.

What he tells them as teachings are not morally wrong either. He tells them that they are normal, beautiful people. They don't deserve to dwell on their mistakes and be miserable, and they have the power to do it themselves. People turn to religion because it's much harder to turn to yourself and say, "I'm okay, I'm a good person, I'm a strong person", we seek validation by other people and deities to back up this thought. It's hard for most people to be selfish, even for their own good.

The documentary maker changed a lot himself during this process. He goes from wanting to expose gurus, to understanding why people seek them out. He genuinely cares about his followers and chickens out of revealing himself a few times.

Even after the reveal, some followers insisted he had physic powers, and that says it all. Some people were still not strong enough to believe that a teaching can come from a normal, everyday person, or themselves, and had to believe it came from someone with supernatural powers.

All in all, a very interesting look at religion, morality and faith. What he does and the way people react can easily be held up as a mirror to any of the major religions. It makes for some very interesting inner questions and topics of discussion for friends.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is truth?, July 11, 2013
By 
Will O (Spokane Valley, WA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kumare (DVD)
No Spoilers:
The premise of this documentary is that the "author" (Vikram Gandhi) is going to pretend to be a spiritual leader to see if he can hook any possible believers. In the documentary he does hook some folks who continue to come to his classes or teachings.

I have a different take on this Doc. What if the joke is on us, you and me? What if the documentary is a total hoax and film makers are really looking to see if they can fool the audience? It all looked too slick; the camera angles too perfect, that there are multiple camera angles but you never see the other camera from your current view. No one in the doc seems to notice that there are cameras there or in any way acknowledges them. People talk very personally to the "guru" while on camera.

The "doc" was an interesting premise and it held my attention all the way through although early on I was beginning to look at the camera angles because of my suspicions. The guy who plays the guru (Vikram Gandhi) is excellent. If you met him in his alter personna, you would believe him.

Also, there will be a question in your mind like, "He is fooling these people about their spirtual beliefs -- how is he going to explain himself later on without totally demoralizing them?" Well, he does have an "exit plan" and does implement it. Watch that part of it closely and see if you think the majority of the participants would react in the manner as portrayed in this doc. The "exit plan" also seemed too contrived to me; it seemed too slick. In the end, the "exit plan" seemed to be what the movie was all about. What started to be a documentary about faith and belief turned out to me to be almost a thriller with a suprise ending.

An interesting movie. You should watch it and let me know if I'm crazy or not. I'm not sayin' it's not true. I'm just thinkin' it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming the lesson, January 21, 2013
By 
This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
Initially one sees a trickster attempting to prove how ridiculous the guru nation is. It is like Bill Mahr's "Religulous" but Vikram Gandhi does more than just poke a stick at the superficial side of spirituality. He prods and scrapes at it until breaking through the surface and falling into it himself. At the same time he brings along real people on their search for meaning and fulfillment. This is a multi-faceted expose' but more significantly it is a leading edge artumentary into the next revolution in human experience... realizing we create EVERY slice of our lives and finally take full responsibility.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous and Profound, March 31, 2013
By 
Susanne (Chapel Hill, NC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kumare (Amazon Instant Video)
I loved this documentary. I was a student with a teacher for many years who was a fraud. He was good at "the show" and charismatic, but in the end he harmed many followers. He was egotistical and focused on money and in the end I learned in a very difficult way to focus within. It was heartbreaking for me, but I survived with great insight. What I appreciated with this documentary was the ways in which we give our power away and seek authority outside of ourselves. Vikram, as Kumare, was always telling the truth and giving the power back to the student. My teacher took advantage of the power differential and his ego got the best of him. Kumare never sought to harm or take advantage of anyone. As Vikram, it was clear he deeply cared about all the people in this film. It was a beautiful testimony to the student-teacher relationship when it is from the heart. I don't care that he took the form of Kumare, he is a teacher teaching the truth...that your power lies within you and not with a external guru or teacher. I am only sorry that those 4 who left in hurt or anger at Kumare (Vikram) will appreciate the great lesson down the road. It was courageous and profoundly healing for me to watch this. While the method is radical the teaching is priceless. Thank you Vikram Ghandi! I appreciate your willingness to mirror the truth. Great Masters walk among us in many forms.
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Kumare
Kumare by Vikram Gandhi (DVD - 2013)
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