Feb 11, 2022

Rock Music Menu: ‘The Beatles and India’ documentary premieres Feb. 15

Michael Christopher
Daily Times
February 10, 2022

There’s been a wealth of attention lately – rightfully so – paid to the eye-opening Beatles documentary ‘Get Back’ by director Peter Jackson. For those who can’t get enough of their Fab Four fix, next week sees the premiere of the band’s oft talked about time in India in the late 60s.

Slated for release February 15 via BritBox in North America, the streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, the award-winning feature documentary, ‘The Beatles and India’ examines how Indian music and culture shaped the music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and exploring how the group served as ambassadors of a pioneering World music sound and cultural movement while searching for deeper meaning in their lives. Under the spiritual guidance of Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they took a trip to Rishikesh, India to study Transcendental Meditation and set out on a path of deep enlightenment that would change the world.

The Beatles’ were first introduced to Indian music while filming their 1965 film, ‘Help!,’ which featured the Indian musicians in a restaurant scene. Harrison would become a lifelong impassioned devotee of the region’s music. He would soon buy his first sitar, befriend and study under sitar master Ravi Shankar and employ the instrument to revolutionary effect linking the worlds of pop music with Indian music on the Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood,” which appears on their ‘Rubber Soul’ album. Later, the raga rock sound could be heard in Beatles songs “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Love You To,” “Within You Without You” and “The Inner Light.”

In early July 1966, while returning from shows in the Philippines, the Beatles made a quick stopover in New Delhi, India, marking their first trip to the country. Less than two years later, in February 1968, the group would return for an extended sojourn at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India where they would take a training course in Transcendental Meditation. Their search for spiritual enlightenment would both shape their thinking and values and indelibly color the sounds of their expanding musical palette.

Drawing together an expansive archive of footage including contemporaneous locale shooting in India, recordings, photographs, and compelling first-hand interviews, ‘The Beatles and India’ exhaustively documents the East meets West touchstone in pop culture history. Taking inspiration from Ajoy Bose’s book ‘Across the Universe – The Beatles in India,’ the documentary is directed by Bose and cultural researcher Pete Compton.

Additionally, there’s a 19-song companion album titled ‘The Beatles and India: Songs Inspired by The Film,’ featuring interpretations of the Beatles’ songbook, blending traditional and contemporary Indian influences, as recorded and performed by Indian artists like Ravi Shankar’s daughter Anoushka, Vishal Dadlani, Kissnuka, Soulmate and more. Many of the songs featured on the album, among them “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Dear Prudence,” “Back in the USSR,” “I’m So Tired” and “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill,” were written during the group’s 1968 extended stay in Rishikesh would feature on the 1968 double-album, ‘The Beatles,’ better known as ‘The White Album.’

No comments: