Meeting The Beatles in India – one GTA man’s story of a lifetime
With new and vivid first-hand details and over 40 personal photos never-before-seen in any other movie about The Beatles, Emmy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman shares an extraordinary life experience in a new feature documentary, Meeting the Beatles in India. Presented by Gathr Films, narrated by Morgan Freeman and executive produced by iconic filmmaker David Lynch, the film is now in select theatres, and will be available on PPV in October.
In 1968, with the eyes of the world upon them, The Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India, to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in a remote ashram on the banks of the sacred river Ganges.
Those few short weeks became one of the most prolific and creative periods of their lives, as they wrote 48 songs in approximately 48 days (some experts say 30 songs) producing such iconic sixties anthems as Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Dear Prudence; Bungalow Bill; Across the Universe and Julia, many of which later featured on The White Album formally titled The Beatles.
It was also the beginning of an explosion of global interest in peace, love and meditation, which continues to attract younger generations to this day. Once home to a handful of saints and holy men, Rishikesh is now considered by many to be the world capital for spiritual seekers. Eight million visitors a year are drawn there to find inspiration and enlightenment.
Also present at the ashram during those few short weeks was a young Canadian filmmaker named Paul Saltzman, there to heal a recently broken heart, while seeking his own path to understanding and enlightenment. Arriving without knowing the Beatles were there, he had to wait outside the gates for eight days. Finally, allowed in, he was taught meditation. It took less than five minutes, and his first 30-minute meditation was ‘a miracle’ that healed the agony of his heartbreak.
He soon met John, Paul, George and Ringo, who took him into their informal group of the four of them; their partners, Pattie Boyd, Cynthia Lennon, Maureen Starkey and Paul’s girlfriend, Jane Asher. Also, in the group were Mia Farrow, Donovan, Mike Love and the Beatle’s roadie, Mal Evans.
Paul spent the next week just ‘hanging out’ with these famous folks; and in the informal and relaxed atmosphere of the ashram, and their warm welcome, he captured some of the most famous and intimate photographic portraits ever taken of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
When Paul returned home to Canada, he was keen to share this magic of meditation. He was also broke, and fortunately a leading magazine wanted his story and some of his images. After finishing writing the story, he decided to put the pictures away. He actually forgot about them. Out of sight, out of mind. Until 32 years later his daughter, Devyani Saltzman, reminded him he had these images and suggested he do something with them. Gallery shows and several books followed.
Now an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, with over 300 productions to his credit, Saltzman shares this very personal and intimate first-person story, as he revisits those magical times. Looking beyond the frenzy of media attention that surrounded the Beatles time in India, he asks important questions: Exactly what did those four young musicians from Liverpool experience entering the depths of meditation, that caused such a creative outpouring? What are the dynamics of meditation, within the human mind, that connects enlightenment and creative genius; and does transcendental meditation provide the “Within You/Without You” key to creativity for everyone?
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film weaves together archival material, including some stills and film footage never before seen by the public; along with interviews with long-time practitioner of transcendental meditation, film director David Lynch; Pattie Boyd; Jenny Boyd; pre-eminent Beatles historian, Mark Lewisohn; journalist and editor Lewis Lapham; film composer Laurence Rosenthal, Hariprasad Chaurasia; and the real ‘Bungalow Bill’.
Along with his own personal memories, Saltzman creates a magical mystery tour of one of the most important and influential cultural events of the 20th century, and reveals how vital the exploration of our own inner self is, not only for artists of all generations but also for each and every one of us.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.