Gotham Chopra: Unpacking Deepak
In the documentary 'Decoding Deepak,' Gotham Chopra — filmmaker, journalist, and self-help cynic — traverses the globe with his father, Deepak Chopra, to uncover the man behind the myth, and find out why millions are drawn to his motivational message and teachings.
By Jessica Firger
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurHealthy LivingNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
FRIDAY, Oct. 5, 2012 — It's hard to ignore the impact Deepak Chopra has had on millions of people who strive everyday to lead better, healthier, and more spiritually fulfilling lives. They've adopted his tenets and teachings, most of which are based on ancient Eastern philosophies that the celebrity guru has crafted for the modern age.
Even so, it's easy to poke fun at him — and countless people have. Critics frequently call him a fake, a quack, and a snake oil salesman. He's written (so far) more than 65 books. At least 20 have been New York Times best-sellers, though most are frequently described as drivel.
As the son of a spiritual guru, filmmaker Gotham Chopra has observed and even shared this love-hate relationship America has with his father's ideas — one reason why the 37-year-old set out to make a documentary about him.
"Once I get past my personal cynicism of some of it, I see with my father, in particular, how he's helped people — whether it's with their relationships or whether it's with a sickness or a loss," he says. "That's pretty powerful."
A film about "papa"
Decoding Deepak, his documentary, currently in theaters and is distributed by Snag Films, was a labor of love for Gotham. For this project, Gotham traversed the globe with Deepak, moving from Thailand to Japan to Sedona, Ariz., to India, which was the only way to "catch him."
The ultimate purpose, says Gotham, was to reconcile the two images of him: The public man who has inspired millions and the "papa" who rarely showed up for dinner when he was a kid.
"Recently, someone came to my father and said 'I heard your son made a movie about you,'" says Gotham. "He looked at them and he said, 'No, my son made a movie about himself.'"
Gotham has already shown his film at SXSW, the popular independent film festival, and it was surprisingly well-received among the hipster set. "I think people responded to it because they saw it's a movie about families and fathers and sons," he says. "And that for me was always the intention: to go beyond the celebrity element of it and capture a larger audience."
Much like his celebrity father, the 37-year-old has already worn many hats in his short career. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Gotham worked as a foreign correspondent for Channel One News, a news network geared for teens, which sent him to war-torn regions in the Middle East and beyond.
The Los Angeles resident also authored five books, including The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes, an offshoot of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, one of his father's biggest bestsellers. Gotham's other books, he says, were also about spirituality, taking their cue from his father's philosophies.
Gotham says he arrived at the idea of making a film about his father in 2005, while helping to launch the online political channel Current TV with Al Gore. At the time the former vice president was in the throes of producingAn Inconvenient Truth, his documentary about the climate change crisis.
"I remember thinking to myself, here's this guy I know, and the world thinks they know. It reminded me of my father and the impression the world seems to have of him versus who I thought he was."
Blackberry worship and mind-body medicine
And soDecoding Deepakdepicts a larger-than-life guru who turns out really to be just like everyone else. That is, not without flaws.
"My father is full of contradictions and he's full of paradoxes," says Gotham. "He's not perfect, and he struggles with a lot of the same things other people struggle with, and to that extent he reminds me of myself."
Throughout the film, for example, Deepak's worship of his Blackberry is evident. Gotham frequently catches his father tapping away — writing emails, tweets, and Facebook posts, even while in full robe and garb at his ordination to become a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
But the film also paints a clear picture of how his father was able to capture the hearts and minds of millions of fans, and how his ideas have shaped America's wellness movement.
"My father was one of the pioneers," says Gotham. "I think he was one of the first people to talk about mind-body medicine. I remember growing up in Boston, Mass., a very progressive place, but yoga was considered pretty fringe. We had people saying that's devil worshiping, meditating was this weird practice." recalls Gotham. "Today we can't go five blocks without finding 25 yoga studios in New York City. Meditation is prescribed by physicians, and healthcare providers pay for it."
In 1996, Deepak opened the Chopra Center For Well Being in Carlsbad, Calif., which hosts spiritual retreats throughout the year. Though he's moved on to conquer bigger and better ideas like world affairs, social activism, and the ecology movement, the center has remained a place where followers stay connected to his message.
In Gotham's view, Americans have taken to the New Age movement out of frustration with traditional faith-based institutions that many feel haven't evolved with the complex modern world.
"I think the world is in desperate need of some guidance. I'm a huge data geek, and one of the trends I look at that I'm fascinated by is fewer and fewer people are going to church or their synagogue and traditional institutions of faith. And yet more and more people are visiting sites like Everyday Health, are reading books by my father, are attending what we call 'the Church of Oprah Winfrey,'" he says.
Video: Why Current Science Cannot Explain Consciousness? Ask Deepak Chopra!
Kate Moss steps out in London with her ex-boyfriend
How to Apply for a Design Patent
How to Make a Girl Blush
15 Plus Size Casual Outfits To Wear In Spring
Tips for Weight Loss in Hindi
These Supplements Will Help Improve Your Focus Tenfold
18 Winter Hair Color Ideas
MORE:15 Surprising Former Celebrity Couples
How to Read ePubs on Kindle Fire
Are Phytoestrogens Harmful for Men
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Color Hair at Home
Celebrity-Approved Short Hairstyles For a Round Face
Top 10 Fairness Tips For Dry And Dull Skin
Why Having Psoriasis Motivates Me to Give Back
How to Create an Amazon Storefront