The Kumare Film: A Critical Analysis
“The Kumare Film” is a documentary film released in the United States in 2011. Vikram Gandhi, an American filmmaker, is the director of the film. Analyzing the film is crucial to comprehending how certain new religions emerged in the twenty-first century. As a result, it’s important to keep an eye on the work of American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, who used a social experiment to expose some of the region’s irrationality. These people he referred to as “blind religions.” In his impersonation of an Indian guru, he wanted to fly to Arizona, where he could persuade a large number of people from all walks of life. His experiment was a true reflection of the current situation of religion and that is what the director of the film wanted to achieve. Therefore, the film was meant to illustrate the level of absurdity of the blind faith within religion. Any audience who finds the time and watches the film will learn of what Gandhi religion have been formed in history and also in the 21st century. If Kumare managed to gather such a big following then this explains how human nature perceives religion and faith. How some of the followers after an impersonation, then how many “religious leaders” have managed to apply the same strategy and acquire fans as a result of the blind faith?
The film is an interesting documentary for different reasons than other usual documentaries. The film might not interest some sections of its viewers who might not see it as having interesting facts or be showing a picturesque landscape. However, it plays a major role in revealing a side of the Western culture that has been a brunt of criticism from many people but has never been adequately investigated. Therefore, Gandhi is portrayed as a typical American kid who was busy begrudging the manner in which his family was trying to their Hindu beliefs and practices on him. Just a few years of his graduation from college, he resorted to unveil how easy it was to pretend to be a guru from India and convince people to listen to his ideas. The film has provided a detailed explanation of his experience in his quest. Therefore, the documentary offers a plethora of thoughts that was provoking its scenes.
By using the character “Kumare,” the director made the film more comical, but later on, his actions in the film turned more serious than anyone could have seen coming. His original question was to determine whether the fabricated spirituality was in a position to incite a placebo impact on the people he was interacting with while in his mission. Almost everyone he interacted with had the belief that he was genuine. They believed so not only because he was looking like one of them, but he also appeared like a very introspective and an honest individual. By faking his Indian look and accent, many people believed he was Indian and had no doubt on his ideas. He was also aware that impersonation was the only way he could use to get followers. Therefore, he had to do it well that people could not easily detect. Apart from other people who also claimed to be gurus, most of the followers who “fell” for his trick were at a stage in their life where they were in need of some form of help; that was not a mere coincidence. The film is just a reinforcement of the belief that many people have become very vulnerable whenever they are emotionally unstable. Such are the people who always get brainwashed easily and get into fictitious religions and cults. The question that a viewer can ask is whether they also get to a point where they feel emotionally unstable and whether they could seek for the powers of the higher powers to feel better? An answer to this question might not effectively come out; however, it is an issue that happens in the modern societies, and there is a need to take it into account. Viewers who sweat to get details of whether they could resort for higher powers might not get what Gandhi intended to achieve with his film. His primary intention was to entertain his viewers; hence, people who get into details of wanting to determine how their personal lives relate to the film’s scenes might not be entertained.
The question viewers might ask is whether it mattered that the perceived “truth” in the film was a total lie. They might want to determine whether the responses in the film reflect people who supposedly follow “real” religions or faiths. Gandhi was very sure that that the replies did not mirror the actual situations within societies. Throughout the film, Kumare is seen speaking to his followers about finding their real “inner guru” and convinced that they did not need to look to other people, but rather, just take a look at themselves. Therefore, his contention was that no prophet/guru was more real than another and some of them were just believing in their lies. Therefore, one would want to know the reason that makes people who are well educated and are often very thoughtful fall for groups like that of Kumare and even in more mainstream religions on the one hand and the other hand in a potentially dangerous “cults.” It appears like those gurus who operate such groups also either sells their religion or their philosophy. Just like a salesperson who sells a used car may enamor his customer; most of the gurus insist on saying a lot of right things for them to establish trust with their clients. Therefore, that explains why it could be an inherently bad idea when the people who follow the acts and ideas of their gurus may always end up being hurt by the tactics employed them to gain followers. Many followers of religions have ended up following fake gurus without knowing. They eventually end up suffering for their blind faiths.
The film turned interesting when Gandhi seen beginning to notice how much he was being affected by his transformation. In the beginning, he was struggling to reveal his actual identity to his followers. Therefore, the struggle was an indication that whatever he said were all lies that needed to be premeditated before talking to his followers. There were many lies within his words and may a few truths. Viewers may wonder whether he was so invested that he also began to believe his lies or whether he was just overwhelmed when he experienced his initial hypothesis. Regardless of the answers to such thoughts, his experiment acted as an eye-opener that can prompt further investigations and studies into the religion phenomenon. At the end of the film, Kumare seemed to be posing more questions than answers in the minds of the audience, but that did not still take away its exceedingly magnetic components.
Something worth taking into account is determining there are some of the aspects of the experiment that were not revealed, hence, this forms another basis for curiosity. Could it mean that the produce was hiding something? However, that does not imply that there were some political ramifications. Every viewer needs to note that the film was organized to maximize its value to its viewers and entertain them even more. Therefore, his style of production should not be used against him as his views as he was producing the film were not the same to those of the viewers and some of his critics. Overall, Gandhi managed to shine a light on the subject of religion that always seen as a very sensitive area by many people. Additionally, he earned credit for doing so in the least invasive and in the most efficient manner possible, and it would be reasonable to expect other more future studies that would be seeking to unveil the same ideas of Gandhi’s experiment. Having an American man with Indian heritage conducts an experiment of its nature wondering whether he could manage to convince his followers. He was not sure whether he could manage to convince them that he was a ‘real guru” when speaking in an Indian accent and dressing in the Eastern clothes and quoting a lot of propounding-sounds full of nonsense phrases. But it finally worked. Many people followed him and quickly bonded with him over his made-up nonsense. Therefore, not every religion is always formed by real gurus, but some of them could be the likes Kumare. Just after watching this film, a viewer might be perplexed in an attempt to reflect on what could be the real definition of practice as either religion or just being spiritual. They could also wonder why spirituality is crucial to many people.
People who do not go to church do have a common phrase that can confuse someone who would want to know its real meaning. They always say, “I may not be religious but am always spiritual.” Therefore, in the credo of such people there seems to be a common trend among them. It could also turn out that people who had a religious upbringing always reach a point that they start questioning their faiths. What do the non-religious people want from their so called “spirituality” then they always do not require from religion? It could imply that people who seek spirituality rather than religion from the groups of those who are very vulnerable to be swayed by the likes of Kumare. Most of the individuals in the Gandhi’s experiment that got swayed by Kumare had various issues that they wanted to solve. Therefore, Kumare only needed to act as a “therapist” who had the ability to listen and give back his kind words, though very broken and nonsensical in their nature. To his followers, it was not his words that mattered, but they just felt the relief of finding someone who could listen to their problems that were always bothering them. Everything was consolidated and appeared more important though the use of rituals. Similarly, just the same as how his words were not important to them, the content of his rituals were equally not important to them. The most important thing to them had a ritual that they could follow and get them to the right mindset towards some introspective thoughts.
It can be confusing to determine the acts as being religious because there was no single point in the movie that the followers were informed that the teachings were from any holy tradition. There was holy books or worships and even a teaching on the creation story hence there was totally nothing that the viewers could see as an important part of any form of religion. However, the same film was also full of many aspects that relate to religion. The community and its therapeutic settings and even the Kumare’s rituals that convinced his followers to develop a strong connection with him and his practices. Therefore, it becomes tough to conclude that the acts in the film were religious. The producers framed it in a way that he could easily convince his fans that the movie had nothing to worry about. To him, he was only after entertaining his audiences, and he achieved his mission.
The main difference between religion and spirituality is the level of organization and reliance on different supernatural expectations. Many religions always depend on the explanations that appear to be supernatural in nature as they always put their faiths in a god or gods and pray. On the other hand, spirituality may just contain some elements like in the religion, but it is not necessary that it fits under the category of becoming “spiritual.” Religion is always more organized and does have various institutions with leaders and hierarchies, rather than just existing and relying on the perspectives of someone’s mind. Kumare’s case was a pure issue of spirituality and not a religion, and there are instances where such cases always turn to become a religion. As the followers as such an individual’s grow, he/she may be convinced to form a religion and declare himself the leaders of such “religion” and such cases are so many in the 21st century.
In summary, the film portrays a lot of cases that could be happening around the globe in regards to how some religions are formed. The people in the film were fooled very easily to believe everything that Kumare told them. Therefore, the actual importance of religion and spirituality in the modern societies has been to offer people the easy way to bond with one another in a close way. They find an alternative of getting someone that they can talk to and share their problems. These problems can make them become desperate and can make them blind to any form of manipulation. Therefore, some “real gurus” can use this to their advantage and get many followers to create cults within the society.