It goes without saying that The Beatles is considering by many critics and audiences alike to be one of the most important bands in the history of modern music. The band’s music has and continues to transcend generations since its original release from one album to the next. Memorabilia surrounding the band still commands high prices among audiences to this day, and to this day, movies and documentaries are still being made about the band. The most recent of the documentaries to center on The Beatles is the 2021 feature, The Beatles and India. Having made its theatrical debut in 2021, it is scheduled for home release June 21 on Blu-ray and DVD. No surprise to anyone, this documentary will appeal primarily to established fans of The Beatles, though more casual audiences will find it worth watching at least once. The doc’s appeal comes primarily through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly. While the main feature is a positive to the documentary’s presentation, the whole is not perfect. There is something of an issue with the audio mix, though it is not enough to doom the documentary. This will be examined a little later. The concern with the audio is a bridge of sorts between the documentary’s main feature and bonus content. Speaking of the bonus content, it is also an item that audiences will find a positive, so it will also be examined later. When it is considered along with the documentary’s main feature, the two items collectively make the overall presentation a mostly successful offering for any fan of The Beatles.
The Beatles and India, the new documentary centered on the one and only Beatles, is a unique new look at what many considered to be a pivotal part of the band’s history, its journey to Rishikesh, India in 1968. The story of that journey is interesting in that it is revealed here that it was really because of the band’s then guitarist George Harrison, that The Beatles even went to India in the first place. As is pointed out, Harrison made the pilgrimage to India because he was more interested in Indian music and culture than his band mates. He apparently convinced his then band mates to make the journey to India, too. The story from there gets even more interesting. It gets more interesting as it is revealed that as much as has ever been said and written about the band’s time in India, apparently three quarters of the band did not stay very long. Ringo and his wife left only a couple of weeks after making the trip. Paul and his wife stayed less than six weeks. Even after everything, it was George who largely remained.
Just as interesting to learn in watching this documentary is that apparently the band became pawns of a sort to a number of parties during and after their trip to India, including the very man who had become their spiritual leader of sorts during their time in India. The story of how that relationship started and ended is surprising to say the very least. It sounds in the bigger picture, like something that came right out of a movie. Along with that, the band also became pawns of a sort to another individual back in the United States when they returned from India. That story pairs with the story of the band’s relationship with the Maharishi to make quite the interesting overall tale. When the examination of the band’s relationships with others and even each other during and after their trip to India is considered along with the overarching story of Harrison’s role in the whole thing, the overall presentation makes for a story that will keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout the documentary’s 96-minute run time.
While the overall main feature gives audiences reason to watch the documentary, its audio causes some concern. The concern comes from the realization that the main feature runs surprisingly low. Audiences will have to turn up the volume on their TVs quite a bit in order to be able to fully hear everything. This is important to note because by comparison, the audio in the documentary’s bonus content was recorded at quite a high volume. So in going straight from the main feature to the bonus content, audiences will have to immediately turn down the volume before starting the bonus content. Otherwise, audiences will find the unpleasant surprise of having extremely loud audio in the bonus content. Why and how this stark difference in audio levels is anyone’s guess. It is not enough to doom the documentary, but it certainly negatively impacts the presentation’s aesthetics.
Speaking of the documentary’s bonus content, it will give the noted targeted audiences more reason to watch. The extensive interview with author Ajoy Bose, whose book Across The Universe – The Beatles In India is the basis for the documentary, is the most notable of the bonuses. Bose talks about a variety of topics during his interview, including finding the people who were interviewed for the documentary, the long-term influence of India’s culture and music on the band in regards to not just its music but its members, and the research that he did for his book and for the documentary. His insights in regards to each item will again appeal to plenty of audiences, especially the most devoted fans of The Beatles. The secondary bonus examining the compound where John, Paul, George, and Ringo stayed during their time in India offers its own interest. Many will likely take issue with this, but in listening to the narration while observing the map, the whole compound looks and sounds like something that would be used by a cult. That is sure to generate plenty of its own discussion among audiences and in turn shows why this item is important in its own way to the whole of the bonus content. When it and the extensive discussions from Bose are considered together, they make clear why the documentary’s bonus content is just as important to the overall presentation as its main feature. When that secondary and primary content are considered together, they make the documentary in whole a mostly successful presentation.
The Beatles and India, the latest documentary centered in The Beatles, is a presentation that most audiences will find intriguing. Its interest comes in large part through its main feature. The main feature focuses on the band’s much talked about journey to India in 1968. Audiences will find interesting here that despite all the legend that has been made about that trip, it apparently did not go quite as smoothly as many have made it to be. While the main feature gives audiences reason to watch, the seeming issues with the audio between the main feature and bonus content detracts from the enjoyment to a point. The main feature was apparently recorded at a low volume while the bonus content was recorded at a much higher volume. That difference in volume will require audiences to adjust the volume between the two items. It is not enough to doom the documentary, but certainly does detract from the overall enjoyment. Speaking of the bonus content, it proves itself worth watching, too. That is because of the background that is offered on the documentary’s creation and on the band’s time in India through the two main features here. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary’s home presentation. All things considered, they make the documentary a mostly successful presentation that most audiences will agree is worth watching at least once.
The documentary’s soundtrack was released in March through Silva Screen Records. The doc’s DVD presentation is expected to retail for MSRP of $19.95 and its Blu-ray presentation for MSRP of $24.95. Each can be ordered here.
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