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I found this movie profoundly moving. Although the initial impetus seems to have been to expose the venality of so-called gurus plus the credulity of their followers, once people started following “Kumare”, the protagonist heard so many stories that were so personal that he seems to have realized that with bona fides or not, he was truly helping people, and that they had become somewhat dependent on him. I’m sure he had not expected this. I found it very moving that so many people just needed to be heard, to be asked to state their goals, and to have their self-esteem reinforced to the extent that they were able to work towards those goals, despite this advice coming from a “fake” guru, although there may not be any other kind. It as a trick played on these followers, a deception, and a violation of trust, but most of the followers found they’d gained many benefits from this association. I do hope they’ll learn some actual yoga poses though. The chanting might or might not be better with authentic chants/mantras. This was an unexpectedly wonderful film. It took such dedication to make. Talk about method acting! I highly recommend this movie.
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.
The "phoney" teacher taught fact; all the answers we seek lie within our mind.
The only job of a "Guru" is to teach us how to develop our own connection with our Inner Guidance - however we describe that (God, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha,Holy Spirit, etc.) Our only responsibility to a Guru is to be grateful. If a teacher/guide/Guru/minister/priest, etc. asks anything else of us, they do not understand their role.
OK...I'm off my little bitty soapbox...
Having been in a cult and gotten out, I especially enjoyed this film
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2012
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.
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2012
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.
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2015
A unique and wonderful movie. Funny and enlightening at the same time. Theme: Boy of Indian decent, born in U.S.. Parents have him partake in Indian customs celebrating milestones so that he learns of his heritage. Boy decides that all the Geru's are false prophets. Grows up and decides to prove his thesis that anyone can call themselves a Guru and attract a large group of followers: Grows beard, travels to India, learns Yoga and invents himself as KUMARE. The film is actually real life, hilarious. What follows is eyeopening. I won't give away the ending but both Kumare and his followers develop unexpected emotions. Kumare shows that what people are looking for is a relationship with an authentic person who gives unconditional love. A must see! Truly unique.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2016
This is a really interesting film, what starts out as a skeptical exploration of guru culture, with shades of Borat, becomes something quite real and quite moving with genuine bits of wisdom thrown in.
Welch ein Film! Die Menschheit ist wie sie ist: Einerseits zu dumm um wahr zu sein, andererseits ist diese Doku so witzig mit ernstem Hintergrund, daß sie auch zum Denken anregt. Jeder kann Guru... und damit werden auch so manche altgedienten Religionen entzaubert: Der einfache unaufgeklärte Mensch sucht geradezu verzweifelt nach einem höheren Glauben, und er wird bedient: Angebot und Nachfrage. Jeder kann Guru. Vieleicht stecke ich mir auch einmal eine Feder irgendwo hin, tanz wirr um ein Lagerfeuer und dann werden mich schon ein paar simpele Seelen folgen. Dieser Film entzaubert jede Religion. GENIAL!
Sollten sich alle Leute anschauen, die sich als spirituell Suchende sehen ! Zeigt sehr gut, wie einfach es auch ist, Leuten vorzumachen, man seie ein spiritueller Lehrer und wie die Leute, selbst wenn sie die Wahrheit erfahren, immernoch an der Überzeugung festhalten, der angebliche Guru seie etwas "Besonderes"
Il faut le montrer à tous les consommateurs de New Age... Seul défaut pour les francophones, il est assez difficile de suivre les dialogues en Américain car ils sont brouillés par la musique. Il faudrait une version sous-titrée en anglais et bien sûr si possible dans d'autres langues.
What this man did is audacious, and the experience must have been eye opening for himself first and then of course, for others. That's the kind of documentary that goes right in the heart of it's topic and a very honest one. I bought it because of my previous deceptions about gurus. And it made me laugh really. So voices were hard to understand under the sometime overthroning music, but still, it was not unpleasant to rewind a couple of times to listen more closely, it actualy add to the realism of the movie.