Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela

Rated 3.0 Filmmakers Maurizio Benazzo and Nick Day offer a colorful glimpse of the 2001 Kumbh Mela in Prayag, India, a religious festival held every 12 years that attracts 30 million to 70 million pilgrims (estimates vary). Against that background, the film can hardly help being colorful, but it’s still only a glimpse. For all the religious discourse, commentary and ecstatic dancing they show, Benazzo and Day are not very informative: Among their commentators is one Vanessa Ramos, but we never know who she is or why the picture is dedicated to her. The movie is likewise silent on the logistics—and, for that matter, even the exact length—of the gathering. The film works best as shortcut itself—a brief, impressionistic snapshot of the convergence of an almost unimaginable number of religious seekers of truth.