"Stream My Reels" is a weekly column that will feature one recommended streaming title from many different sources (Netflix, OnDemand, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.).
This week's film is one that follows in the recent trend of what I like to call "involvumentaries"... or documentary films wherein the filmmakers are conducting a social experiment that they are very much involved in. Other entries in this genre are films like Super Size Me, Borat (to some extent), and Religulous. This growing trend in documentary cinema has been a refreshing one, allowing viewers to follow along with the action instead of witnessing a dissertation (of sorts) long after the events have transpired.Kumaré operates in a similar manner and uses this device to debunk the idea of religious figures or gurus. The film follows an American filmmaker named Vikram Gandhi who has been fascinated by the subject of religion and religious figures since his childhood. Growing up in an intensely religious household and yet never believing in the teachings led him to study religion in college, where he grew increasingly more disenchanted. With the recent yoga trend spreading rapidly across the country and all of these so-called "gurus" along with it, Vikram decides to transform himself into a wise Indian guru.
Vikram takes on the psuedonym Kumaré and begins preaching his teachings in Phoenix Arizona. By becoming Kumaré he hopes to prove the insanity of giving yourself over to blind faith. However, as his number of followers grow he begins to doubt his own ability to give up the ruse and whether or not he can actually do good as the false guru Kumaré.
Kumaré won South by Southwest's Audience Award last year and the reason why is immediately self-evident. Vikram is never false in his portrayal and is always a pleasant and humble narrator. In a situation where he might very easily become cynical or pompous towards those around him he is instead open and honest. The film has next to no bile and wears its heart on its sleeve at all moments. What is also a delight is that it quickly subverts expectations and ends up coming to a very different conclusion than what you might initially assume.
"Kumaré" is now available for instant streaming on Netflix Watch Instant.