Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

Kumare (2012, directed by Vikram Gandhi)

This is one of those documentaries that I think everyone should watch. For this doc, Vikram Gandhi (who later on gave this really entertaining and insightful TEDx talk about his film and his ideas behind it) becomes Kumare, this fake guru who gets genuine followers and no matter what he does it’s being looked high upon, as long as it seems spiritual. Deepak Chopra said this film is perhaps the greatest lesson a guru can teach. It is a film about how people in search for something more to life, and having a fascination of Eastern spirituality, are willing to follow just anyone who fits the imagery of an Eastern guru. And it’s about how little people understand or question. If it looks and acts like what they know a guru should look like and act like, then it’s all good. That is a lesson and something to think about.

The film, besides being daring and entertaining, also opens up many questions. Are these followers naive or simply desperate to find something? Or a bit of both? Is marketing Eastern spirituality making people mistake the image with the essence? What is actually a guru? What does genuine mean? Could you also believe in a Kumare?

I wanted to write about this documentary for a long time but I postponed doing it because I was planning to use it for something else, an article focused on the ‘making spirituality a product’ issue. When I moved to The Netherlands and I noticed that people put Buddha statues everywhere. Somehow Buddha has become some sort of garden gnome or a multi-purpose decoration meant to suggest peacefulness everywhere from people’s homes to massage salons and restaurants. And for a while I collected all sorts of relevant information on this subject, including the discovery of this horrendous hugging Buddha toy, only to discover that others wrote about this before (in Dutch) and also that there is a book telling the story I had to tell. So no article, but see the trailer below and here is a link to the film.

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