by Annette Hinkle
Growing up in the shadow of a famous father can be difficult for any child. But when your father is Deepak Chopra, celebrity author, media personality, spiritual icon and guru to legions of adoring fans and celebrities, the struggle to reconcile the parent/child relationship can be daunting to say the least.
In his documentary “Decoding Deepak,” Chopra’s son, Gotham, takes viewers on a personal journey of father and son. The film will screen this Saturday, October 6 as part of the Hamptons International Film Festival. From the movie’s opening sequences in Thailand where Deepak is initiated as a Buddhist monk (all the while suffering from withdrawal in absence of coffee and his Blackberry) to high profile book signings, speaking engagements and TV interviews in the United States and finally, a trip to India in search of family ties, Gotham, a journalist, tails his father with a camera for more than a year.
Ever the media personality, Deepak crafts camera angles, offers pearls of wisdom and suggests film titles throughout the process.
But ultimately, this is Gotham’s movie.
“When the film was done, someone came to my dad and said, ‘I heard your son is doing a movie about you,’” notes Gotham. “He said, ‘No, it’s a movie about himself.’ I think that’s very true.”
“At a subtle level, it’s very much about reconciling not only who my father is and his image to the world versus family, but as I have a son now, I think about what kind of child I want to raise,” says Gotham. “I’m glad I made the film when I did and not 10 years ago.”
“There is a healthy cynicism in the first half of the film, but I’ve come out with a real respect for my father, for how hard he works and for his audience,” he adds. “He’s largely a product of his audience and what they’re searching for. Trends show fewer people are going to churches or synagogues and more are buying Deepak Chopra books and self-help titles. For me the conclusion is more than ever people are desperate for answers.”
And in the end, what does Deepak himself think of his Gotham’s film?
“He’ll say it’s honest – ultimately once you get past the playfulness and skepticism, it also captures his message,” says Gotham. “We spent a lot of concentrated time together. I learned he’s genuinely detached. He says, ‘I’m attached to my grandchildren but not much else.’”
“I don’t take that as a slight,” adds Gotham. “His form of love is not dependent on us meeting his expectations.”
“Decoding Deepak” screens on Saturday October 6, 2012 1:15 p.m. UA East Hampton Theater 6.
Hamptons International Film Festival screenings and panel discussions will take place at venues in East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Montauk and Westhampton Beach from October 4 to 8. For the full festival schedule and tickets, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org