The Beatles and India An Enduring Love Affair: Film Review
The Beatles' love affair with India is well known. But how much do we really know? How do we distinguish which is fact from fiction?
Was George Harrison the first Beatle to get exposed to Indian music? Maybe not! Some accounts have Paul McCartney. What happened between the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the band after the retreat in Rishikesh, India in 1968? The band referenced that experience in some of their songs in the White Album, most notably Sexy Sadie and The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill. Was there a falling out with the guru after allegations of sexual misconduct and opportunism against him? These are some of the questions that this new documentary entitled "The Beatles in India" is trying to answer.
Directed by Ajoy Bose, the film offers an insider's look into the relationship between the Fab Four and Indian Culture. It is loaded with footage from the band's interactions with the Maharishi in Rishikesh, Bangor, and even Sweden. The film also breaks down how the band and the country culturally influenced each other.
There are insightful eyewitness interviews with local Indian commentators and personalities and Beatle history experts like Mark Lewisohn. Some of my favorites include:
Commentary by Patty Boyd - Her first-hand accounts of what happened in Rishikesh, especially her birthday party in the ashram, is priceless.
Commentary by the former caretakers of the ashram.
Interview with the helicopter pilot who flew the Maharishi and John Lennon above the Himalayas.
First-hand account of how Ravi Shankar and George Harrison at a dinner party.
Interviews with Indian artists describing how the Beatles changed their lives.
I also love how the director juxtaposed footage of the band in the ashram in 1968 with current footage.
The Beatles in Rishikesh is a critical period in the band's life. They wrote a number of songs there that eventually ended up in arguably their best album ever: The White Album. Songs like Dear Prudence, Mother Nature's Son, Sexy Sadie, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, and Blackbird. The film changes how you listen to these songs or the whole album because it gives you a peek at the band's state of mind during that time. You can say that The White Album is the band's 1968 diary.
The Beatles and India is a must-see for Beatle fans who want to get an in-depth look at the impact of Indian Culture on the band and pop culture in general.
Watch the Trailer below:
The film has been on the festival circuit and getting rave reviews.
Official Selection - International Film Festival Gent
Official Selection - Valladolid International Film Festival
Official Selection - Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Winner Best Music Award - Tongues On Fire: Uke Asian Film Festival
Winner Audience Award Best Film - Tongues On Fire: Uke Asian Film Festival
You can watch the film on DVD and streaming platforms. Visit the Beatles and India website for more info.