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Naked in Ashes (Unrated)

Release Date: November 18th, 2005 (NYC-Quad Cinema) by Paradise Filmworks.
Directed by Paula Fouce.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the Yogis of India.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Out of a population of one billion in India, there are 13 million Yogis who participate in sacred rituals that bring them closer to God. This film depicts these rituals in very matter-of-fact way as it if were an infomercial. Santosh, a fourteen year old boy becomes initiated into the world of the Yogis by being naked in ashes and getting his head shaved bald. Itís interesting to watch how each older Yogi chooses a different way to shun the outside world. One of them has been standing up for over a decade while another has given up eating other than a few donated fruits. In order to travel to the huge ceremony at the Kumbh Mela, they must travel barefoot through the Himalayas. Their arduous journey against the bitter cold is life-threatening and obviously very painful, mentally and physically. In a shocking and slightly disgusting which seems like a joke from The Aristocrats , a Yogi pulls a car with his penis aloneóalthough he wraps it around a sword to add more pull. How he manages to do that is a secret that should remain one forever. Unfortunately, director Paula Fouce spends too much time showing the Yogiís individual rituals without enough scenes of the Kumbh Mela, which, especially if youíve seen the documentary Kumbh Mela: Shortcut to Nirvana , you would know how just significant it is in the life of a Yogi.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The Yogisí shunning of the outside world helps them to learn about themselves, to become more mentally-balanced, and even to attain a feeling of happiness. One of the Yogis makes a very interesting claim that he would never own a cell-phone because thereís simply no real need for it in his lifeóitís merely a distraction. Throughout this film, thereís not much to take with you thatís profound or memorable. You never end up emotionally connecting with any of the Yogis shown in this film, but at least their alternative lifestyle gives you something to think about once you come out of the theater and step into the hustle-and-bustle outside world where almost everyone is attached to their cell-phone is if itís part of their body.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not analytical enough to be profound or insightful. Too much "show", but not enough "tell".


THE BOTTOM LINE: Mildly entertaining with interesting Yogi rituals, but not profound or moving enough to make an strong, resonating impact.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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