What a movie like Undefeated by no means gets around to questioning is whether or not soccer actually should be pushed onto these kids because the objective-their entry into higher schooling and future success. Aren’t there, dare I say it, different, better (more fulfilling and long-lasting) ways of helping troubled inside-metropolis youths rise up and transcend their dire circumstances? Undefeated swallows wholesale this notion of success in sports as a measure of success in life-however, in fact, it has to, lest a more multifaceted, inquisitive approach threaten to puncture its progress towards uplift. As a movie concerning the position sports plays in American society, it ends where one thing like Steve James’s Hoop Dreams begins.
Kumaré does for organized faith what Undefeated isn’t quite willing to do with the “faith” of football: prods it, examines it, and considers numerous perspectives. It doesn’t appear that means at first though. Suggesting an unholy mixture of Morgan Spurlock and Sacha Baron Cohen in his method, Vikram Gandhi, the film’s “star” and director, basically creates a whole new faith using our growing nationwide obsession with yoga as a springboard; upon discovering that loads of the yogis he is encountered are principally fake although they attempt to pass themselves off as genuine, Gandhi-who himself turned an agnostic after being raised by his dad and mom to observe Christian teachings-decides to remake himself as a “guru,” create his personal practices, and spread his “teachings” to an array of people in Phoenix, Arizona. (He even hires two scorching women to act as sidekicks.)
I think about that that will sound like a cruel prank to many, on the face of it. Kumaré initially looks as if it would go down the condescending Borat route and spew a lot of mockery below the guise of “edgy” satire; perhaps that was what Gandhi was anticipating out of his stunt at the start. However then, a funny thing occurs the longer he retains up this charade: He actually starts to care about the individuals he’s duping, sufficient that, at the same time as a pretend guru, he genuinely needs to help them with their troubles. This leads to some fraught moral territory on Gandhi’s part-and Gandhi has simply sufficient of a self-deprecating streak in him to allow us to see the fear he develops as he realizes he has actually grown into his role, and that he should reveal himself to his fooled followers eventually.
In comparison with a Sacha Baron Cohen, a Morgan Spurlock, or even a Michael Moore, Gandhi comes off as a fairly self-effacing persona, not given over to thuggish bluster to make his points. He looks like a genuinely curious fellow-curious about the various perception programs that exist on this world and about the individuals who buy into them whilst he himself remains skeptical of organized religion. Much more intriguing, nonetheless, is his willingness to question his personal strategies when his prank starts to go approach over his own head. At a sure level, he even comes to the belief that he has linked more with folks as a pretend guru than he has as himself. Kumaré thus develops a stunning quantity of suspense over whether Gandhi will drop the guru act and how his “followers” will react after they uncover the truth; that is certainly more nuance than a prankster like Cohen would ever allow.
Alas, for all its good intentions, Kumaré cannot fairly escape a hovering sense that Gandhi is just keen to take his self-examination up to now-as if, as soon as discovering that his stunt had spiraled out of his control, he struggled to try to give you a justification for the entire enterprise that wouldn’t make himself look too foolish at the end. Its final conclusion is that everybody has an “internal guru” in him, separate from any superiors from any organized faith-a bracing notion (and one that I’m personally inclined to agree with), however one that’s explored on this movie with equal parts compassionate thoughtfulness and bullshit self-aggrandizement.