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Netflix pix: 'Kumare' 

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KUMARE (2012)

With Easter just passed, I've been thinking a lot about faith — why we need it, what purpose it serves, and just how devout many of the people who claim to be religious really are. It's a question for the ages, and will probably be debated until the sun goes supernova or language finally devolves into a series of squeaks and grunts, whichever comes first. A new documentary that tackles the question of faith and what purpose it serves in the grand scheme of things is "Kumare," now on Netflix Instant. It's a wonderful film, and one that should be watched by anyone who considers herself even the least bit "spiritual but not religious." It's the story of documentary filmmaker Vikram Gandhi. Born to Indian parents in New Jersey, Gandhi sets out — "Borat" style — to make a film about the whack-doodleness of those Americans who seek "New Age mysticism." To do that, he grows out his hair and beard, then remakes himself as Sri Kumare, a caricature of an Indian guru, who wears flowing robes, speaks constantly in half-baked parable, and carries a walking stick. After traveling to Arizona, Kumare soon attracts a group of Americans who buy wholeheartedly into his teachings. The problem is, these aren't actors dressed as hippie flakes. These are real people, with real heartache, and real issues. Soon, Gandhi comes to care for the people he'd set out to ridicule, and actively tries to help them find meaning in their lives while knowing all the time that, sooner or later, he's going to have to reveal himself as a liar and fake whose initial intent was to make them laughingstocks. At times a brilliant recitation on faith and the desire for purpose in a confusing world — not to mention a glimpse into why sane and rational people join New Age cults — "Kumare" turns out to be a very thought-provoking doc, capped with what might be the perfect ending for a story about faith, deception and perception. Check it out.

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