Italian 1968 documentary about The Beatles in India
When The Beatles came to Rishikesh for their meditation course, the press came from around the world to cover the event. However, the men from the press weren’t let in, as they didn’t know the secret password to pass through the gate, “Jai Guru Dev”.
The Italian “Channel 7 News” team arrived days later, which paid off. They were given exclusive access to the Maharishi and his guests. Their footage was then made into an almost half-hour TV special called “I Beatles in Ritiro” (The Beatles in Retreat).
Apart from footage of Indian poverty and of the Maharishi and other non-Beatle guests, there was also some wonderful footage of the Fabs and the Maharishi walking down to the River Ganges for some fun in the sun including a sing-a-long with Paul, John, and Donovan on acoustic guitars.
This is a copy taken from the TV station master tape and runs over 27 minutes in length. For whatever reason, the Beatles’ scenes have out-of-synch audio whereas other footage of Donovan singing is perfectly in synch.
The special was re-broadcast on Italian TV at least twice in 1988 and 1993. This pristine copy has not as yet been bootlegged.
The video was found online and worked on by one of the new stars among video uploaders of Beatles material on YouTube, alias “Kitsu Beatles”. He restored it by cleaning up the dirt and upscaling it to High Definition. There’s an Italian voiceover, which you may choose to have texted in English.
I wasn’t all that impressed with it. Was hard trying to read the subtitles while at the same time listen to what the guy was saying. And looked like who ever was filming it at the compound was doing from outside the gate.
A Canadian filmmaker, Paul Saltzman, happened to go to the ashram around that time to learn Transcendental Meditation. After he learned to meditate he was allowed into the ashram for a few days and found himself innocently walking over to a group of people sitting around a table having breakfast. It was The Beatles and their entourage! He asked if he could join them and John Lennon invited him to sit with them. He became friends with John, Paul, George and Ringo and would end up taking unposed pictures of them with their permission. Many decades later Saltzman’s daughter asked what he had done with those photos. He would end up putting them into a book, and more recently he finally told the story in a journey back to India for his film, Meeting the Beatles in India. Here are the links to his book, https://thebeatlesinindia.com/, and a trailer to the film, https://vimeo.com/447590743.
We promoted Salzman’s film when it was news. Also, check out the new film, “The Beatles And India” which delves deeper than just the Rishikesh trip.
Is the Salzman’s film “Meeting the Beatles in India” available on DVD ?