Coming to Netflix tomorrow, Wednesday, November 20:
BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR
DOC NYC, Hamptons, Hawaii, Philadelphia, AFI Fest
A searing exposé of the hot yoga entrepreneur Bikram Choudhury, accused by multiple women of sexual assault.
The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Bikram Choudhury was at the forefront of popularizing yoga in North America and around the world. An Indian immigrant with a Beverly Hills base, Choudhury was a born entertainer, known for dressing in nothing more than a black speedo and a Rolex. His teaching style was tough love sprinkled with salty language and punctuated by spontaneous bursts of singing. He built a franchise empire with hundreds of Bikram studios around the world.
Filmmaker Eva Orner traces Choudhury from his rise in the 1970s to his disgrace in accusations of rape and sexual harassment in more recent years. She taps a vast trove of archival footage that demonstrates Choudhury’s charm and offers clues to his dark side.
Over the years, Choudhury’s story has received steady press coverage, but there is a fresh power in this telling, with key figures going on camera for the first time including his longtime lawyer, Micki Jafa-Bodden. The film raises larger questions about the nature of leaders and followers and the corruption of messianic figures. To this day, Choudhury has evaded prosecution and continues to attract yoga students from all over the world, bringing added tension to this rigorous investigation.