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Whether you find the documentary "Gurukulam" meditative or just boring will likely depend on how you feel about the Indian guru at its center, so you get out of the movie only what you take with you.

Filmmakers Jillian Elizabeth and Neil Dalal capture day-to-day life in the remote Arsha Vidya Ashram in southern India, as students and disciples pray, sweep floors, pick flowers and go about their normal routines. They, and the film, spend lots of time listening to the lessons of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who teaches the traditions of Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu belief.

Much of the film captures Swamiji (as his followers affectionately call him) giving lectures on the self, consciousness and how the individual reflects the whole of reality. (Swamiji died last September; much of the film was shot in 2010.)

Elizabeth and Dalal try to show things unfolding organically, in the tradition of Frederick Wiseman's process-driven documentaries, but one might wish for more background on the disparate students who have come to hear Swamiji's teachings.


Opens Friday, July 15, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably PG for mild language and mature themes; in English, and in Tamil and Sanskrit, with subtitles; 109 minutes.