Vikram Gandhi, a disillusioned Indian-American philosopher who’s followed gurus across India, returns to the U.S. to impersonate one himself. As Kumare, he collects followers in Arizona, trains them in his own form of yoga, listens to their problems and advises that the answers lie within. Along the way he transforms the lives of many of his devotees and is profoundly changed himself. Gandhi is the creator, director, writer and star of the wise and funny film titled Kumare.
How many references to Neptune can you find in the first paragraph? Film of course. And disillusionment is typical of Neptune, since its idealism can lead to illusions. While both philosophy and inter-cultural relations are often characterized by Jupiter, Neptune in this case is more appropriate. Vikram’s studies and research in the U.S. and India have given him information, but not faith. He seeks inspiration from gurus, who are supposedly on a spiritual path, and visits India only to be disappointed.
By impersonating a guru, Vikram takes on a Neptunian disguise and renames himself. He grows his hair and beard, walks barefoot, adopts his grandmother’s accent and wears flowing robes. Traveling to Arizona where he won’t be recognized, he attracts over a dozen followers who want to devote more time to learning yoga, meditation and a spiritual approach to life. Vikram as Kumare, after months in the role, becomes something of a mystic himself, always insisting that “I am not who I appear to be.”
The devotees pour out their hearts to their guru, as they each grapple with life’s challenges and find in him a willing listener and leader. Kumare takes them seriously, meets with them regularly and schedules individual sessions, apparently for no fee. As the devotees find inspiration, Vikram/Kumare becomes more earnest in addressing his followers’ needs, yet avoids interfering in their decision-making process. He has influenced them and they have influenced him in some ineffable Neptunian way. It’s almost as if, in coming together, the group has evoked what it needed; the faith of the guru himself somehow didn’t matter.
Over a month after the end of the seminar, having shaved his beard, cut his hair and returned to western garb, Vikram goes back to Arizona to reveal himself. His students are shocked and only a few are angry but most don’t care. One has lost 70 pounds, one has left an unfulfilling relationship to become a yoga instructor herself, and a stressed-out lawyer has grounded her emotions with her new practices. This is surely a Neptunian story all around, abounding in both deception and transcendence, and the film reminds us of the blurred lines between illusion and reality.
Kumare premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 13, 2011 with the Sun and Mars in Pisces. It was released on June 20, 2012 with Jupiter in Gemini and the North Node in Sagittarius both squaring Neptune in Pisces. See more about Kumare.