|“When I first heard Indian music, I just couldn’t really believe that it was so great, and the more I heard of it, the more I liked it. It just got bigger and bigger, like a snowball.”~ George Harrison|
A Never-Before-Seen Look at The Beatles’ Visit to India!
In 1968, the world’s most popular rock & roll band, The Beatles, had achieved mass fame and fortune yet were searching for deeper meaning in their lives. Under the spiritual guidance of Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Beatles took a trip to Rishikesh, India to study Transcendental Meditation® and set out on a path of deep enlightenment that would change the world.
The award-winning feature documentary, The Beatles And India (Silva Screen Productions, Renoir Pictures), examines how Indian music and culture shaped the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo and in turn, explores how The Beatles served as ambassadors of this pioneering World music sound and cultural movement.
Drawing together an expansive archive of footage including contemporaneous locale shooting in India, recordings, photographs, and compelling first-hand interviews, The Beatles And India exhaustively documents this East-meets-West touchstone in pop culture history. Inspired by Ajoy Bose’s book Across The Universe – The Beatles In India, the documentary was produced by British Indian music entrepreneur Reynold D’Silva and directed by Bose (his directorial debut) and cultural researcher Pete Compton. The Beatles And India has been awarded Best Film Audience Choice and Best Music at the 2021 UK Asian Film Festival “Tongues On Fire.” The Beatles And India has also been nominated for Best Documentary at the 2022 New York Indian Film Festival, and will be the closing film for the festival.
The Beatles were first introduced to Indian music while filming their 1965 film, Help!, which featured Indian musicians in a restaurant scene. George Harrison would become a lifelong impassioned devotee of Indian music. He would soon buy his first sitar, befriend and study under sitar master Ravi Shankar and employ the instrument to revolutionary effect linking the worlds of pop music with Indian music on The Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood,” which appears on their Rubber Soul album. That song marked the group’s, and particularly Harrison’s, full-on immersion into Indian music, resulting in a raga rock sound heard on The Beatles songs, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Love You To” (Revolver), “Within You Without You” (Sgt. Pepper), and “The Inner Light” (B-side to the “Lady Madonna” single).
In early July 1966, while returning from shows in the Philippines, The Beatles made a quick stopover in New Delhi, India, marking their first trip to the country. Less than two years later, in February 1968, the group would return for an extended sojourn at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India where they would take a training course in Transcendental Meditation®. Their search for spiritual enlightenment would both shape their thinking and values and indelibly color the sounds of their expanding musical palette.
The Beatles And India is an unforgettable audio-visual experience that spotlights the legacy of that historic visit, chronicling The Beatles’ crucial role as avatars of a musical movement inspiring newfound societal and cultural awareness, weaving the fabric of pop and Indian music into a unified force of positivity and spiritual exploration.
– Interviewed for the first time, ace test pilot Rustom Captain. He flew the helicopter on the legendary flight over the Ganges seated between Maharishi and John Lennon where the latter was convinced the Holy Man would, “Slip me the answer”.
– For the very first time the story is revealed, “Rishikesh – the hotbed of espionage” as the CIA is accused in the Indian Parliament of infiltrating the Maharishi’s inner circle while the Beatles are there, provoking the KGB to rush its top spy in Delhi to the ashram.
– An eye-witness account from the host of the historic dinner party that brought George Harrison and Ravi Shankar together, forging a relationship that would last over four decades.
– India’s most pre-eminent photographer Raghu Rai reveals how he was smuggled inside the ashram to capture the very first image of the Beatles there, a photograph that went across the world.
– Extensive footage of the Maharishi ashram as it is today skillfully blended with images of the same locations while the Beatles were there over half-a-century ago to create a stunning walk through time.
– A widespread range of interviews with people who met the group on their trips to India, most with their stories unheard. From journalists to musicians to teenage girls, each has a unique tale to tell.
– Filmed across India at all the sites of the Beatles visits, Mumbai, New Delhi, Rishikesh and Dehradun.
– An array of unseen photographs, footage and interviews uncovered in India during research on the project including unseen 35MM footage from a film shot at the ashram but never released and an interview with George Harrison recorded with All India Radio in 1966 and unheard since then.