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Reel Docs Presents Decoding Deepak

By Jennifer Posner

Reel Docs is proud to launch our eighth season with the screening of Decoding Deepak. What starts as an intimate biopic becomes a deeper plunge into the meaning of identity itself.


Decoding Deepak
By Reel Docs
Fri–Sat, Nov 25–26, starting at 1pm
Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca
Reloj 50 A
Tickets are on sale now at the Teatro Box Office, so don’t delay

Filmmaker and journalist Gotham Chopra embarks on a year-long road trip with his father in an attempt to resolve the difference between the spiritual icon he is to the world versus the real man known to his family. From devoted disciples that range from Lady Gaga to lost souls searching for themselves in the red rock deserts of Sedona, Gotham begins to paint a raw portrait of his dad that only a son can. The film travels across the planet chronicling colorful Deepak activities—from a traditional monk ordination in Thailand to a literal decoding of ancient family registers in rural India. On the home front, Gotham also takes a closer look at the expansive spiritual empire his father has built over his 25-year career that initially was conceived out of Deepak’s own deep personal and spiritual dissatisfaction and a decidedly non-spiritual (and boozy) origin.

Ultimately, what emerges is a picture of a Deepak that, while reminiscent of other popularized Indian gurus, is more dad than demigod. Full of flaws, foils, intelligence, and irreverence, the decoded Deepak uncovered by his son’s honest scrutiny of him is a symbol of a world searching for answers in the most unlikely places and a deeper plunge into the meaning of identity itself.

Gotham Chopra said, “To do this project privately, I wouldn’t get the same material or the insights that I did.” The film captures “who Deepak really is because you can’t separate him from the public,” he added. “He has a need to be a part of the public conversation.”

Understanding one’s parents might be as difficult as fathoming the cosmos, but it’s something most of us try to do, in one way or another. Doing this through the lens of a camera for a documentary film allows the filmmaker to use the tried-and-true tools of the profession while also making a very public statement.


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