- A Fascinating and Troubling Film about Human Spirituality 3/19/2011 12:00:00 AM by JustCuriosity
The highly provocative film Kumare had its world premiere this week at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. The film was very well-received and created a lot of buzz, because of how it was made. Everyone was saying you must see Kumare and not surprisingly it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.
Kumare is fascinating, because it is somewhere between a documentary and a reality TV show. In the film Director Vikram Gandhi moves to Phoenix, AZ where he pretends to be a wise Indian guru and begins to recruit followers to his yoga sessions. He develops a group of followers and keeps the game going for months. Even though he is making it up, he finds that there are many people desperation for spiritual guidance that are easily convinced and willing to follow him. The film raises lots of questions about spirituality, human gullibility, and the role of spiritual leaders. He certainly shows how easy it is for those with ill intentions to build a cult-like following. The film crew took no money and Kumare attempted to teach a message of self-empowerment to his followers since he always intended to reveal himself to them. The content of the documentary was entertaining, provocative, and humorous. From an artistic point-of-view, the young documentary filmmakers should be commended for raising important questions about human nature and religion.
However, many in the audience seem deeply troubled by their methods of impersonating a guru and lying to people about whom they were and what their intentions. At times, the humor of the film was based on mocking the followers for how easily they were deceived by bogus chants and practices. It was also clear that many people told Kumare intimate details of their lives. While it seems that many of the participants benefited from his teachings of self-empowerment, some were clearly very angry at how they were deceived. While they didn't take money, they were using to advance their careers. There is something deeply exploitative in the way that they were deceived. Kumare raises a lot of interesting ethical questions that should be explored by those who are making documentary films. To put it simply, were the dishonest means that they used to achieve a worthwhile and interesting end appropriate?
- It's not what it seems to be 7/27/2012 12:00:00 AM by oysterbed
I just saw this movie, and I encourage you to see it if you're drawn to the subject at all. The premise sounds mean-spirited, and one would expect the movie to be all about poking fun at the gullible followers of the fake guru, but it's not like that. Surprisingly, the director (who plays Kumare) does not come off as a jerk who's looking down on the followers he's managed to rope in. He seems surprised, as the audience is, that it's so easy to be accepted as a fake guru, and there is a lot of humor surrounding that. But I thought the jokes were aimed at Kumare more often than his followers, many of whom come across as likable and even accomplished. In a way, the real stars of this movie are the followers, because it's their sincerity that makes the film something other than what it started out to be.
- Worth seeing 2/28/2013 12:00:00 AM by a-osta
The subject is a necessary truth and is right on time. The reason the rating is low is because someone gave the movie 2 stars based on personal disagreements rather than on the film's quality. There is no way this is a 2 star movie. I think it deals with a very important subject and there are fake gurus out there, and it just shows humanity's deep need for spirituality, as well as their profound gullibility. I have written a book about shamans and it sort of deals with the same side of the story. My book is called shamans and healers, if you are interested. In short, the movie is definitely worth seeing, and is more gutsy than I would be able to pull off. Good film.
- awesome movie 2/23/2013 12:00:00 AM by support-907-829691
Vikram Gandhi + Kumare = Great leader :)
watched it tonight and i gotta say I'm very amazed by Kumare. a great and moving picture that depicts the truth about all the fake or phony gurus or self claimed prophets they call them. i liked everything about the movie like how it first started as a joke and when it was closing it to an end it gave a really good teaching and Vikram Gandhi really did a great job on that. this movie is really a must see for everyone and especially those people who have indulged themselves with fake gurus and spent lots of money on them and in the end got nothing.
- Unexpectedly intense look at our yearning for spiritual and meaningful 8/28/2013 12:00:00 AM by FVMagic
Kumaré eludes simple definitions. It lies somewhere between a documentary and reality TV. Director Vikram Gandhi is fed up with all the trendy gurus who he has found out to be exactly like any of us. He sets out to create a fake identity for himself as Sri Kumaré, a mystical holy man from India complete with the hilarious exaggerated Indian accent, big beard, long hair and all the other outward signs of a spiritual leader. He quickly finds loyal followers who are all too willing to embrace his status without really questioning anything. However, he himself makes some surprising discoveries and changes during this journey that at times seems very close to getting out of hand.
I really like the handling of this very delicate subject matter. People confide in Kumaré blindly and many openly talk about their issues and private problems. Some of the stories are truly touching and heartbreaking. Still, you don't get the sense people are exploited. They come across as dangerously gullible but at the same time sincere and vulnerable. There are also hilarious moments when people do totally absurd things without realizing the ridiculousness of the situation.
Kumaré makes you think and challenges easy answers. Yes, some of the people clearly are not rational at all, and yes, it's obvious all the "forces" and "powers" that people feel come from within themselves. But isn't that true for all religions? How is this fake guru different than any other guru - or any religious figure, for that matter? It makes it visible how painfully we crave for understanding and meaning in our lives. To feel we are worth something.
The ending is brilliant and unexpectedly intense. It made me feel confused, awkward, compassionate - and other feelings for which I have no name to put on. Highly recommended film for everyone.