This film lacks a compelling narrative, but it’s worth watching because it gives you a nice comfy seat to view the world’s largest gathering of humans. The parade is totally wild. Every 12 years pilgrims in India congregate on the beach at the confluence of two holy rivers. This meeting is called the Kumbh Mela. Officials estimate up to 70 million people came to bathe at the last Kumbh Mela in 2001. 70 million is larger than 95% of the countries of the world. Among those millions of pilgrims are tens of thousands Sadhus, holy hobos, wandering saints, faith healers and naked misfits. Every guru in India and beyond sets up a camp and side-show tent. There’s too much of everything. The event gets an instant infrastructure to accommodate the largest city on earth for only several weeks. There’s dust, constant loudspeaker noise, weirdness everywhere, It’s sort of like Burning Man, but enlarged 100,000 times. I attended the Kumbh Mela in 1977, before it was “popular,” when a mere 14 million souls turned up. It’s pretty gritty (imagine the sanitation problem) but also the cheapest way to visit another planet. This film captures a tiny bit of that alien weirdness. Hopefully this is not the last film to grapple with this incredible spectacle, but right now it’s the only one I know of.
Short Cut to Nirvana
Directed by Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day
2004, 85 min.
$3, Amazon Instant Video rental
Read more about the film at Wikipedia
Rent from Netflix
Available from Amazon