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‘Beatles In India’ Documentary In The Works

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Coming later this year is a documentary about the Beatles’ historic 1968 visit to Rishikesh, India, according to The band traveled to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in February 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation (TM), and the film will be based upon filmmaker Paul Saltzman’s recollections of studying with the Beatles during that time. Saltzman, who has published his book of photographs of the band at the ashram, titled The Beatles In India, has also been leading tours revisiting the “Fab Four’s” spiritual journey at the foothills of the Himalayas. Although not officially sanctioned by the Beatles’ Apple Corps., “the project will feature rarely-seen footage, including in-depth interviews with the band.”

According to the report, “Silva Screen Group is financing together with private investors. Saltzman is also producing with Reynold D’Silva for Sunrise Films, Ren/oir Pictures and Silva Screen. They are aiming to wrap in time for a release in Autumn this year.”

Producer Reynold D’Silva said, “The idea of a Beatles in India documentary has been with me since the mid-’90s. By pure coincidence, or perhaps it was fate, three separate people put me in touch with Paul (Saltzman) early last year. It turned out he had been harboring the idea for even longer than I had. After our first phone call, we were set on a path to produce the film together. Paul has a stellar track record in his field of producing and directing films. He has a clear vision with a profound knowledge of the subject matter borne out by the fact he was at the ashram in Rishikesh with The Beatles in February, 1968.”

Saltzman’s recent credits include 2012’s The Last White Knight – Is Reconciliation Possible?, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and 2009’s Prom Night In Mississippi, which premiered at Sundance.

Paul Saltzman recalled watching John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborating on a soon-to-be ‘White Album’ classic: “I looked over and under Paul’s toe, under his sandal was a little torn piece of paper. And I look over and in his handwriting it’s ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, bra/La-La how the life goes on.’ And I’m sitting beside Ringo (Starr) — maybe five feet away from Paul — and they start singing it and really working with it. Only those words — only John and Paul. Ringo was just quietly listening.”

The Beatles became indoctrinated into the Maharishi’s practice of TM during the summer of 1967 and traveled to Rishikesh, India to study under him in February 1968. Although Ringo Starr left Rishikesh after only 10 days and Paul McCartney stayed for six weeks, John Lennon and George Harrison, along with their wives, stayed with the Maharishi for two months. Also studying with the Beatles were Donovan and the Beach Boys’ Mike Love.

Lennon and the group left the Maharishi’s compound after hearing rumors of Maharishi’s supposed advances on some of the female TM practitioners, one of whom was allegedly actress Mia Farrow.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Saltzman

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