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Theatrical release poster
Directed byVikram Gandhi
Produced byBryan Carmel
Brendan Colthurst
StarringVikram Gandhi
Purva Bedi
Kristen Calgaro
Narrated byVikram Gandhi
CinematographyKahlil Hudson
Daniel Leeb (India unit)
Edited byAdam Barton
Nathan Russell
Music byAlex Kliment
Hisham Bharoocha
Sanjay Khanna
Future Bliss Films
Disposable Television
Distributed byKino Lorber
Release dates
  • March 13, 2011 (2011-03-13) (SXSW)
  • June 20, 2012 (2012-06-20) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$132,160[1]

Kūmāré is a 2011 documentary film directed by and starring American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, who posed for a time as an Indian guru in Phoenix, Arizona, to satirize the American New Age movement.


Vikram Gandhi, the child of observing Hindu immigrants to America, became increasingly skeptic of religion as he grew into adulthood. After noticing the growing popularity of yoga in the United States, he decided to make a documentary about the New Age gurus who were referring to ancient Indian teachings to build credibility for their practices. Finding them and the gurus in India to be equally phony, Gandhi came up with the idea of impersonating a guru and building a following, only to reveal himself, as a way of showing that spiritual leaders are unnecessary, and the focus of the film shifted.[2]

Gandhi transformed himself into "Sri Kumaré", an enlightened guru from the fictional village of Aali'kash, India, by creating a spiritual philosophy centered around the ideas of illusion and self-empowerment, growing out his hair and beard, and adopting a false Indian accent. Accompanied by a friend and a yoga teacher, he traveled to Phoenix, where he investigated the local New Age scene and built a group of followers.[3][4] As he got to know and like the people who responded to his teachings and practices, Gandhi became troubled by his deceit and increasingly nervous about the idea of unveiling himself. When he finally did, the members of his core group of followers disagreed with his methods to varying degrees, but most still agreed with his message and chose to remain in contact with him.


Kumaré premiered at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW), where it received the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.[5]

The film received fair reviews upon its release. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, in a positive review, reported that its message is: "It doesn't matter if a religion's teachings are true. What matters is if you think they are."[6]

Many reviewers criticized Gandhi's deception as being immoral, though this criticism was often tempered by an acknowledgement that the experiment eventually grew beyond his control. The film was also often compared to Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic documentary/mockumentary Borat (2006), in which Cohen similarly posed as the title character in interactions with non-actors.[7]


  1. ^ "Kumare (2012)." Box Office Mojo. 7 February 2013. 9 May 2013.
  2. ^ Kumaré: A True Film About a False Prophet. Time. Event occurs at 00:51–00:57. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  3. ^ Melissa Bell (16 March 2012). "'Kumare' film examines blurred lines of virtual identities". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  4. ^ Bryce J. Renninger (16 March 2011). "SXSW '11 | "Borat" Gets Religion: An Interview With "Kumare" Director". indieWire. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  5. ^ Dave McNary (22 December 2011). "Kino Lorber nabs 'Kumare': Gandhi pic won Audience Award at SXSW". Variety. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Kumare." Roger Ebert. 8 August 2012. 9 May 2013.
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Finding Some Principles by Telling Some Lies." New York Times. 19 June 2012. 9 May 2013.

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