British filmmaker Andy Lawrence follows up on his 2011 documentary “The Lover and the Beloved” with this profile of the Nath Yogis of Northern India. As with his earlier film, Ragive McMullen, an Indo-Canadian research scholar at Punjab University, is the on-screen investigator into the pursuit of Hindu theology.
While McMullen is something of a dull on-screen presence, the yogis profiled in this film are highly entertaining raconteurs, and their observations and anecdotes run the gamut from the profoundly mystical to the refreshingly salty – although one yogi’s tale about an encounter with a mystical little girl may discomfort some people. And all of these wise men are politely amused by McMullen’s strange fascination with the heavy earrings that they wear.
One of the most intriguing sections of the film – at least for many Western viewers – involves a discussion on the possibility that Jesus studied in India during the 18-year gap in his New Testament biography. One yogi insists that ancient records of someone known as Isa Nath is actually none other than Jesus – and the arguments used to show the similarities between Jesus’ ministry and the yogis’ focus is quite fascinating.
Viewers who have limited knowledge of Hinduism and who did not see Lawrence’s earlier film may find this offering fairly confusing – Lawrence and McMullen dive quickly and deeply into the subject, with relatively little explanation of the subject’s rich complexity. But for those who are well-versed in Indian culture and religion, this nonfiction journey can be rewarding.