Hanuman — in amazing 3D

I happened upon this site — honestly, I guess I saw someone link to it on Facebook — late yesterday.

At the heart of things is a 3-D movie, clocking in at 11 minutes, that follows the lyrics to the Hanuman Chalisa. And made in India, apparently against the grain and what most people told the filmmaker was possible. She even started in her garage.

Here’s a description of the movie:

The film provides a metaphorical visual meaning to the verses of an ancient spiritual composition that has been sung and chanted across the globe. Our understanding of the divine has various manifestations but its true nature lies within the realization of one-self.

Hanuman serves the highest expression of devotional values and is the purest embodiment seeking god. He is presented as a perfect and appropriate example of being a seeker, a sage, a das, a disciple, a ‘servant of greater man and cause’, a believer, a doer, a warrior and his greatness lies in using his strength for the service of others. The “Hanuman Chalisa” (a devotional Hindu song) again underlies this belief system; this thought process, this devotion.

What’s curious is that I can’t quite figure out how to see it. (Here’s its IMDb page.) The end of the trailer above says it would be shown in late December in New Delhi, and other parts of the website make it clear it played in 2013 at various film festivals. But at the same time, the “first teaser” wasn’t released until September.

So, curious. I don’t seem to be able to just buy it!

It looks to be a very interpretative take on the Chalisa. Combing through the website, one description is this: “Hanuman as the protector of Ayodhya is represented by hands of fire guarding Rama’s kingdom.”

The animation does look awesome — it seems Hanuman’s story really calls out for illustration — but, I’ll reinforce this point: I don’t know how to watch it.

Posted by Steve

Take a trip ‘Into the Center’

Back in February, we pointed you to the preview for the following film. Now, “Into the Center,” a film by Robert Moses’ son, Satya, is finished and online. Here’s how he describes it:

In the Fall of 2012 I took an epic journey into the Brazilian Amazon with my bro Lee and friend and mentor Robert Svoboda. We spent 9 days with a tribe called the Yawanawa, participating in a traditional festival and learning about the Yawanawa, the jungle, ourselves, and the world. I created this film for my 2013 Senior Project. Enjoy!

You may recognize Svobada’s name. And you’d better recognize Robert’s by now!

Take a look:

Posted by Steve


The yoga movie that became the ‘fake’ guru documentary ‘Kumare’

I’m feeling a little better that my initial reaction to a new documentary featuring a “fake” guru — I compared it to Borat — seemingly wasn’t all that far off.

Vikram Gandhi, via the NY Times

In a story on the movie and its star/director, Vikram Gandhi, the New York Times pretty much leads with the same idea:

Mr. Gandhi said the inevitable comparisons of “Kumaré,” his first full-length movie (which opens June 20 in New York), with Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” didn’t bother him. Mr. Gandhi, now 33 and a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said he had already begun his transformation before that film came out — and besides, his documentary is 100 percent unscripted. In a recent interview with Kathryn Shattuck, for which he traded his character’s flowing attire for an untucked white shirt and jeans (he kept the beard), Mr. Gandhi spoke about his spiritual path and pretending to be what he was not.

The Times goes on with a Q&A that explores how a movie that started as a documentary about the yoga industry in America turned into an exploration of the role of the guru. A few quick excerpts:

Q. How did what began as a yoga documentary become “Kumaré”?

A. I was meeting tons of different spiritual leaders and teachers, and I’d be saying: “This person is just making something up. Why does everyone else think this is legitimate?” What I saw made me think: “What if I pretended to be one of these people? Wouldn’t that show something about the nature of why people are grasping onto things, especially if I’m going to be saying that what I’m teaching is not real and it’s kind of nonsense?”

Q. How did you progress?

A. I made up a name. My middle name is Kumar, so I put an “é” at the end.

Q. What about the yoga poses?

A. Anyone nowadays who thinks that they know what authentic yoga asanas are is full of it. India has a lot of scriptures, but it doesn’t have tons of diagrams of all these scorpion poses.


Q. After gaining the trust of these people, did you feel responsible for hurt feelings once you revealed yourself?

A. I was prepared mentally for everything. I already knew that there was no movie without the unveiling. I needed to display the mechanism of the guru and the mechanism of faith. And then laying all the cards on the table and telling them: “You’re making changes in your life, and you don’t need me because I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know anything at all.”

The movie premiered at South by Southwest, and it looks like limited release is set for June 20. Here’s the official trailer:

Along with the Krishna Das documentary, I guess this has to go on the “see” list.

Posted by Steve

The Krishna Das documentary gets a release date: June 17

I know I was a little skeptical about the release of the Krishna Das documentary, which originally was only “coming soon,” so I’m happy to report a date and place for the film’s release: June 17 at the Maui Film Festival.

You can click on the movie website for info or the film fest’s one. It looks like there might be a few Indian-themed films in the queue there; not sure if that’s a coincidence or not. That might be characterizing them too loosely. One film is called Samsara. Link to its trailer is here. There is a Borat-like take on a guru, Kumare. It may not be funny, though. There’s a documentary on Deepak Chopra by his son.

And there’s several films about surfing, no surprise. One is on the big-wave spot Jaws. Another is called Immersion, It looks awesome.

Posted by Steve