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Hippie Masala

Distributed by Alive Mind Education, 56 West 45th St., Suite 805, New York, NY 10036; 212-398-3112
Produced by Fair & Ugly Productions
Directed by Ulrich Grossenbacher and Damaris Luthi
DVD, color, 93 min.
College - Adult
Area Studies, Multicultural Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Date Entered: 3/6/2009

The sub-continent of India has long held an attraction for westerners in search of enlightenment, spirituality, independence, adventure and freedom. During the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands of young people from Europe and the United States journeyed east to find a life different than the ones left behind. While most did not remain in India, some did. This film is a portrait of six now middle-aged hippies who chose to stay forever in India; blending east with west, in lives that are an interesting masala (or spicy mixture). Now rooted in their adopted homeland, Cesare from Italy is a practicing yogi, while Belgian Meera leads a solitary life as a recluse. Robert, from Holland, is a painter with an Indian wife and children. Farmer Hanspeter, originally from Switzerland, hunts and fishes while building a grand home near the Himalayas. South African twins Erica and Gillian are seamstress gypsies selling handicrafts and partying in Goa. Chapter selection titles give a good idea of the themes of the film: The Quiet Life; A Hippie Paradise; Happy Ending; Peace, Enlightenment and Parties; Difficult Choices; A Different Kind of Freedom. The story of how each of those profiled came to India and then decided to stay is both unique and fascinating, as is the recording of daily life for these expatriates.

Skillfully filmed and edited, the documentary by Swiss filmmaker Grossenbacher and anthropologist Luthi was an official selection at both the Woodstock Film Festival and the Miami International Film Festival in 2007. Short bonus features include two additional personal stories – titled An American’s Epiphany and A Moment of Truth.

Recommended for anyone interested in the sixties and seventies, with an emphasis on the hippie sub-culture.