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BMZ Review: Mystic India
By Ann Coates


Mystic India
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 9, 2005


Category: Reviews

The single nation of India is as large as all of Europe and populated with enormous geographic and cultural diversity.  Utilizing the story of Neelkanth -- a young boy who travels India for seven years as a yogi -- Mystic India attempts to reveal the country's multiplicity while simultaneously emphasizing its unity.  In effect, the film alternates between the narrative of Neelkanth's journey of enlightenment and the conventional Large Format scenic photo-op.

Produced by BAPS Care International  -- an international not-for-profit organization -- Mystic India was initially intended to be simply a destination film.  The story of Neelkanth, however, lifts the film from typical Large Format images of Indian scenery to an intriguing journey of understanding and wisdom.  On June 29, 1792, the 11-year-old yogi, Neelkanth, leaves his village eventually traveling 8,000 miles throughout India in his search for enlightenment and the mastery of yoga.  His adventure is truly incredible enduring extremities that would prove fatal to others.  Entering the Himalayas with virtually nothing, Neelkanth survives using the powers of deep meditation and his own self-discipline.

His wanderings then provide a favorable opportunity for the film to capture some lovely images of India itself, from the massive crowds participating in the Festival of Lights to many of India's beautifully intricate pieces of architecture.  The digression into these scenic images, however, hamper the film, weakening it almost to the point of a Large Format advertisement for India's tourism.  The geographic landscapes are beautiful (from India's tropical rain forests to its scorching deserts) and are wonderfully photographed by Large Format vet Reed Smoot.  Nevertheless, the energy spent on these casual glimpses of India's landscape take much of the power away from the more compelling story of Neelkanth.

Other tiny hiccups encumber the film like the appearance of a modern day sweater worn by an extra even though Neelkanth's journey happened over 200 years ago.  An adequate soundtrack supplements the film while Peter O'Toole supplies its masterful narration.  Mystic India is a visually interesting peek into India's culture and diversity.  However, most of the film's impact and spirit lies in its telling of Neelkanth's inspiring road to wisdom.

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