Sep 22, 2019

‘Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator’ Director Appeals to California Governor to Reopen Case Against Yoga Guru

India-West Staff Reporter
September 20, 2019

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Eva Orner’s “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator,” about Bikram Choudhury, the controversial yoga teacher who had multiple lawsuits filed against him for sexual misconduct, just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Netflix original documentary shines a light on the stories of the women who took the Indian American yoga teacher down and explores the contradiction of how this healing discipline could simultaneously help and hurt so many.

Orner told Variety that she is now asking California lawmakers to reopen a criminal sexual assault case against Choudhury.

“We have a great governor in California, Gavin Newsom, I’m sure he watches everything on Netflix. Hopefully he will watch this film, call (Los Angeles District Attorney) Jackie Lacey and tell her to reopen the case, go after him criminally, get him extradited, and he will have to face the music,” Orner told Variety.

In 2017, the California State Court of Appeal dismissed a plea by the Indian American ‘hot yoga’ guru, remanding him to pay $7.3 million to his former attorney, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who had sued him for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

Referencing that Orner said, as per Variety, that rape and assault charges have yet to be investigated while Choudhury remains a fugitive evading investigation.

“He’s been convicted civilly of wrongdoing. There’s a string of women that have settled and either claimed that he raped or sexually abused them. He needs to come back,” she was quoted as saying.

Orner also made an appeal to the yoga studios to drop his name and use generic names instead.

“The big takeaway from this is, there’s still a lot of Bikram studios. People should go to hot yoga studios. No one should have his name on their studios,” she told Variety.

Arriving in Beverly Hills from Kolkata in the early ‘70s, Choudhury quickly cultivated a celebrity following and built a global fitness empire that furnished him with extreme wealth. But by the 2010s, as numerous sexual abuse allegations emerged and stories of his aggressive, cult-like training environment surfaced, the lawsuits started to mount.

A warrant for his arrest was issued in May 2017 but his whereabouts are unknown. According to several reports, he is in India.

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