The documentary film Decoding Deepak, released early October, is a refreshing, insider's look at Deepak Chopra, the international spiritual teacher and prolific author. What makes the film fresh is that his son, Gotham Chopra, made it without any inhibitions about portraying his iconic dad in the most honest light possible. Decoding Deepak is the story of a unique man with a brilliant mind and enormous empire, who in many ways, is just like everyone else.
The modern documentary, well-received at the Hamptons Film Festival, paints a compelling portrait of the guru revered for his lessons on achieving inner-peace and mind-body wellness, and for being a friend of Oprah. The son lets you inside the minutia of Deepak's daily life, and it is through this exploration of the mundane that we get to learn who the man is behind the legend. Gotham narrates with irony, offering unbridled commentary on his father's behaviors, lime light addiction and inter-familial relationships. The result is humorous and endearing. Even a mundane trip to Starbucks by the man whose books have sold upwards of 20 million copies, is an interesting view through the looking glass of one of the world's most admired people.
The younger Chopra describes his film as a father and son road trip. Indeed the cameras followed Deepak unfiltered for a year around the world, showcasing the behind the scenes of his media tours, lectures, meetings with spiritual leaders, and five star hotel stays juxtaposed with his ordainment as a Buddhist monk in Thailand. The film helps you realize, that despite the loftiness of Deepak's thoughts, pronouncements and spiritual teachings, underneath it all he is a brilliant self-marketer on the level of Donald Trump, with an equally insatiable desire to remain in the spotlight. And despite his wealth, fame and elevation on a world pedestal, Deepak is a regular mortal who has tension with his children, just like the rest of us. The fact that his son is open about portraying his dad without filter makes the film entirely compelling.
It's the family moments within the film, and the interactions between son and father, as well as Deepak Chopra's relationship with his grandchildren, that give the film its depth. The audience gets to know the guru behind the rhinestone sunglasses at a level that only an insider can deliver. Gotham says when he began this celluloid journey with his famous dad, he "didn't set out to celebrate his father," but more to "study what drives and motivates him." And the son delivers. If you ever wanted to know what it's like inside the empire of a modern spiritual icon -- idiosyncrasies and all -- this film is a must-see.