The Beatles and India

UK/India 2021, 92 mins
Directors: Ajoy Bose, Pete Compton

+ intro by co-director Pete Compton and producer Reynold D’Silva

The Beatles and India is a unique historical chronicle of the enduring love affair between The Beatles and India that started more than half a century ago.
Rare archival footage, recordings and photographs, eye-witness accounts and expert comments along with location shoots across India, bring alive the fascinating journey of George, John, Paul and Ringo from their high octane celebrity lives in the West to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspires an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting. It is the first serious exploration of how India shaped the development of the greatest ever rock band and their own pioneering role bridging two vastly different cultures.

Director Ajoy Bose was a teenage rebel in Calcutta in love with the Beatles when they came to India. His long mop and the psychedelic flowers painted on his shirt imitating the Fab Four led to fierce fights with his bureaucrat father. In an interesting quirk of fate half a century later as an established journalist and author, Bose was writing a book, Across the Universe – The Beatles in India to mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ historic trip to Rishikesh for the world’s largest publishing house, Penguin Random House.

Inspired by Bose’s book, British Indian music entrepreneur Reynold D’Silva has now taken the amazing saga of The Beatles and India further by producing Bose’s directorial debut. Bose, with cultural researcher and co-director Peter Compton, has created an audio-visual presentation that stands apart from the many documentaries on the band, delving deep into the most crucial period of their evolution from the world’s most famous pop stars into multi-faceted, pioneering musical artists.

In The Beatles and India you will see:

- Ace test pilot Rustom Captain interviewed for the first time. He flew the helicopter on the legendary flight over the Ganges seated between Maharishi and John Lennon where the latter was convinced the Holy Man would, ‘Slip me the answer’.

- For the very first time the story is revealed, ‘Rishikesh – the hotbed of espionage’ as the CIA is accused in the Indian Parliament of infiltrating the Maharishi’s inner circle while the Beatles are there, provoking the KGB to rush its top spy in Delhi to the ashram.

- An eye-witness account from the host of the historic dinner party that brought George Harrison and Ravi Shankar together, forging a relationship that would last over four decades.

- India’s most pre-eminent photographer Raghu Rai reveals how he was smuggled inside the ashram to capture the very first image of the Beatles there, a photograph that went across the world.

- Extensive footage of the Maharishi ashram as it is today skillfully blended with images of the same locations while the Beatles were there over half a century ago to create a stunning walk through time.

- A widespread range of interviews with people who met the group on their trips to India, most with their stories unheard. From journalists to musicians to teenage girls, each has a unique tale to tell.

- Filmed across India at all the sites of the Beatles’ visits: Mumbai, New Delhi, Rishikesh and Dehradun.

- An array of unseen photographs, footage and interviews uncovered in India during research on the project, including unseen 35mm footage from a film shot at the ashram but never released and an interview with George Harrison recorded with All India Radio in 1966 and unheard since then.

- Home movie footage of The Beatles setting up scenes in Help!, the August 1964 LA charity garden party they attended and the famous Maharishi helicopter flight.

- Star Indian singer and music producer Biddu (interviewed in the film) frames the opening titles with his first western music release from 1967, Look Out Here I Come. Featuring a galaxy of future music superstars, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), John McLaughlin (guitar virtuoso), Nick Hopkins (session pianist, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many more) and Tony Visconti (David Bowie producer).

- Featuring a full orchestral score composed by Emmy and IFMCA nominated composer Benji Merrison (Dynasties, The Green Planet) and recorded in Hungary, India and London, the latter in the famous Beatles ‘Studio 2’ at Abbey Road.
Production notes

Director: Ajoy Bose
©: Beatles and India Movie Ltd.
Co-director: Peter Compton
Produced by: Renoir Pictures - A Silva Screen
Producer: Reynold D’Silva
Line Producer (India): Neelima Goel
Executive Producers: Adam Greenup, Keith Ferreira
Director of Photography (India): Virendra Khanna
Director of Photography (UK): Andy Dunn
Editor (UK): Ben Nugent
Post Production: Halo Post Production
Conform and Visual Effects: Fluid Films
Titles and Graphics: El Carousel
Score Composed by: Benji Merrison
Sound: Fizz-E-Motion
Sound Designer: Luke Corradine
Sound (India): Anita Khuswaha

UK/India 2021
92 mins

TV Preview: Inside No. 9 + Q&A with creators Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, and executive producer Adam Tandy
Fri 11 Mar 20:40
GFF Closing Gala: Murina
Sun 13 Mar 19:00

Film Wallahs: The Beatles and India + intro by co-director Pete Compton and producer Reynold D’Silva
Thu 10 Mar 18:15

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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