The new documentary is based on a chance meeting of its director, Paul Saltzman, with John, George, Paul and Ringo at the guru’s ashram in 1968.
Fire is scary in California, as threatening as Covid-19, at the same time as in the streets of Los Angeles social protests are stirred replicated throughout the country as in 1968. While the outside smells of smoke, locked as we are by the pandemic, its inhabitants get used to seeing life pass through the screens. Luckily this week the GATHR platform world premiere a new documentary, Meeting The Beatles in India.
In the film, the 1968 civil rights demonstrations, which now sound familiar, are hardly an initial social landmark because the action quickly moves to Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganges. There you see how Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr arrive at the ashram of the famous guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, to seek inner peace, practice transcendental meditation, and write the songs of The White Album.
“What happens when a 23-year-old Western man realizes he needs to change, goes to India in search of himself, and finds the Beatles?” the actor asks in his deep voice Morgan Freeman. The canadian Paul Saltzman, director and star of the documentary, now a two-time EMMY-winning television director and producer, then it was that disoriented young man who decides to travel to India on a spiritual quest, after his girlfriend leaves him with a letter that breaks his heart.
Suddenly, Saltzman finds himself at the doors of the ashram having to wait eight days for Maharishi to invite him in. There he befriends a journalist who comes to look for the story of the moment: the BeatlesAway from the noisy siege of their fans, they meditate and write their songs under the watchful eye and supervision of the Indian guru.
Just because Paul Saltzman was not a pimp but a young man who happened to be in the right place and time, the foursome allows you access to their table for a week and they encourage him to take the photos of the meeting that are famous today. The director says that he put the negatives aside for 32 years, until one day his daughter saw them and suggested that he do something with them.
Forty unpublished photos populate the documentary, iconic moments that reflect the Beatles as a band of friends trying to unplug. Saltzman, who has continued to practice transcendental meditation until now, travels to Los Angeles to seek participation dfilmmaker David Lynch, professed cultist and promoter of the Maharishi method.
“In ’68 it seemed to me that the Beatles in India was a passing fad; spirituality was not my thing“Acknowledges the creator of Twin Peaks. Until one day, unexpectedly, you realize that happiness is not something that is outside but inside you. After the credits, and to give an extra gift to those who tuned in, put her interviews to. Paul McCartney already Ringo Starr talking about the Maharishi and his meditation. “He always smiled; He conveyed his joviality to you “says Paul. “It’s about stopping your thoughts and letting your heart flow,” explains Ringo.
“Arrive without traveling, see it all without looking, ”says Harrison of his search for inner peace in another documentary, George Harrison, Living in The Material World, of Martin Scorsese. It was he and his wife at the time, Pattie, who dragged the rest of the group towards the Maharishi. Saltzman recounts how one afternoon he came face to face with George in a room, and the two meditated while Harrison played his zither. The beatle told him that he discovered the instrument on the set of the video for Help and that later he found a teacher, Ravi Shankar, who taught him to play it and understand what it was much more than an instrument musical.
In Meeting the Beatles Also participating is Rikki Coooke, who was studying with her mother with the maharishi at the ashram and one day came telling how she had hunted a tiger. John looked at him soullessly. “The destruction of life is the destruction of life,” Maharishi told him.
And because this is a story of transformations, Rikki went from hunter to conservation photographer from National Geographic. But he is still a bit ashamed that because of his violent act he ended up being the protagonist of Lennon’s song The continuing Story of Bungalow Bill.