'Decoding Deepak': A documentary about a guru, who is just a man
Gotham Chopra shows viewers his father, up close and personal ... very personal.
Wed, Oct 17 2012 at 8:30 AM
Photo courtesy of Snag Films
Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and plenty of other high-profile megastars consider Deepak Chopra a spiritual guru. But what does he look like to his own children? It must be a weird existence for Chopra's son, but that's what "Decoding Deepak" is all about. Gotham Chopra, who calls himself "wayward," has made a remarkably revealing and up-close look at the internationally famous author, doctor and philosopher, revealing him as an incredibly normal and human man (surprisingly, he's obsessed with his Blackberry and Starbucks' coffee, and runs for the subway in NYC).
The film gives us bits and pieces of Chopra's past (he studied yoga, but doesn't seem to practice it anymore; his relationship with Michael Jackson; his appearances on Oprah, CNN and Fox News), but this isn't a biopic, but more of an-hour-and-fifteen-minute-long profile.
Chopra's son, while obviously loving and respectful towards his father, is also skeptical about some of what he preaches: In Thailand, Gotham says over shots of clogged traffic and young prostitutes, "My dad's a master at wrapping philosophical poetry around terrible visions of human depravity." Gotham, frankly, seems more concerned about these inequities than his father is. What is pushing Deepak? His son says, "He's driven by an insatiable hunger to be relevant." But he does admire him: "He has an ability to move people in a way that I find admirable," says Gotham.
Check out this video snippet below:
Who is this man, who has published more than 50 books that have been translated into 35 languages and has such influence? "As with everything else, he weaves his cosmic poetry around the frames of the film we've begun shooting. Right now he wants this film to be a meditation on the contradictions of life. But the biggest contradiction I'm seeing is him. The spiritual guru who grows restless without his followers."
This makes me trust Gotham's viewpoint as creator of the film; while I have found many wonderful ideas and ways of thinking in Deepak's books, I am also very skeptical of their connection with reality. And in many ways, my reflection on the film is that it seems that Deepak struggles with what we all do. As Gotham says, "Detachment is a lifelong specialty of my dad's; the only thing he can't seem to give up talking, traveling, writing, emailing and lately, Tweeting." (Wait, that could be me!)
"I think of myself ... as an explorer of consciousness," explains Chopra. At the end of the day, aren't we all?
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