Movie Review: ‘Kumare’



Davalyn Stepzinski

You’ve likely never heard of “Kumaré,” but it’s a movie you should definitely check out because I guarantee it will have you laughing all the way, even while helping you gain some spiritual insight.

Okay, so that sounds super lame, but hear me out.

I’m someone who enjoys seeing the odd movies, usually forgotten or unknown to the general public. I love things that make me think and see a new perspective. Therefore, having the chance to see a bunch of weird movies while I was in New York City for the summer was almost like being granted free pizza… or whatever your version of heaven is. Jokes aside, the evening I spent at the IFC Center to see this film was one of my favorite nights. For that reason, I wanted to review it officially.

Vikram Gandhi, director and star of this film, grew up in New Jersey and was raised Hindu. Despite his whole-hearted attempts to share his grandmother’s trust and faith in the religion, Gandhi never reached what he considered to be the peaceful trance that his grandmother had. To see if he could find someone to teach him what it was all about, he decided to talk with gurus and learn from the source how to reach what his grandmother had. What Gandhi discovered, however, led him to begin a social experiment where he becomes the wise (but completely made up) Indian Guru, Kumaré. With two friends to help him, he begins to start up a following in Arizona, to whom he eventually reveals himself while teaching them what he has learned.

The best way I can sum up this film is to call it “Borat,” but with human compassion. I was not fond of “Borat” when I saw it, and I am still not fond of it; knowing those were real people was not something that entertained me. Perhaps I missed something, but it still feels like exploitation of a specific group of people and a joke at their expense that should honestly not make anyone laugh. If anything, it brought to the attention of the world how close-minded and ignorant some people are of others, to put it lightly. If this film had done that, I wouldn’t have stayed, nor would I be recommending it so highly to anyone. It is true that Gandhi is exploiting people, but he’s not doing it so much to laugh at them, but rather to see how far a person is willing to go to find the inner peace that we are all looking for. At the same time though, he actually cares about the people who become his followers and what he does for them is heartfelt; he’s not out to swindle them of their pride. The message is clear throughout the film and while I won’t spoil it, I will tell you that it’s something you can relate to and definitely think about.

That being said, the entirety of the film is shot well, and for something that was likely not done with many cameras, everything is easy to follow and edited together nicely. The filming is a bit reminiscent of reality television, in that it has many interviews throughout with his followers or other people that have come into contact with him, from yoga instructors to psychics. There are also some wonderful camera panning moments to show Gandhi, dressed as Kumaré, reacting to certain conversations. Many of those are rather priceless and just begging to get a laugh.

There wasn’t a large audience when I saw sat in the dark IFC Center that memorable night with one friend, but with the volume of the laughter that met each joke I think we could have fooled anyone passing by outside. There are a few moments when you’ll question if you should really be laughing or not, but it’s a good sort of questioning. Gandhi has produced a film that will make you smile but leave you with a thought and an idea. Not a lot of films can do that these days, especially not in fewer than 90 minutes.

So while this film is not hitting theatres here in Ames, definitely consider checking it out on Netflix or when it hits a Redbox in the future.

If you’d like my vote though, I’d catch this on Netflix as soon as you can, especially if you’re just looking for a quirky comedy one night. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.