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return to gandhi road




REVIEWER: lyall carter

The powerful story of Kangyur Rinpoche; a renowned Tibetan Master.

Adventure documentaries take us on a journey that very few of us will ever get to travel, allowing us, the audience, to bask in other cultures, landscapes and worlds. Return to Gandhi Road brings all of that and more beside, with a very personal story to be told. 


Kangyur Rinpoche; a renowned Tibetan Master who, heeding the imminent danger of the 1950's Cultural Revolution, and under the instructions of the Dalai Lama, braved the dangerous journey over the Himalayan mountains to India, rescuing two tons of Buddhist texts that otherwise faced potential extinction.


Narratively Return to Gandhi Road is two stories within one film that intersect at certain points along the journey. The first story begins with Kim Hegan, a Kiwi music promoter, who is returning to India to retrace his journey from the 1960’s when he met Kangyur Rinpoche. The second story is the life of Kangyur Rinpoche, a great Buddhist scholar, who saved sacred Buddhist texts from the destruction of the Chinese communist regime. 


Hegan’s story is completely heartfelt and you can see it on his face and hear it in his voice throughout the film. The profound impact that Rinpoche had on his life and also the impact that returning to India and the monastery in Gandhi Road have on him is completely apparent. 


But then we also have this powerful story of a wise scholar who not only powerfully impacted lives around the world but protected ancient texts. Because of the power of both stories, it felt, at times, that the two stories are competing with one another, which I’m sure wasn't the intent of the film makers. 


For a non Buddhist I felt like I walked away not fully comprehending Hegan’s journey, Rinpoche’s standing in Buddhist teaching or Buddhism itself. Return to Gandhi Road requires a little more than a basic knowledge of Buddhism to feel its full impact. 


Renata’s cinematography is at moments beautiful in its simplicity but then powerfully captures the grand, majestic temples and scenery of India. It takes one on a wondrous journey of the senses.


Return to Gandhi Road is a wondrous snapshot into the personal, spiritual journey of an intrepid Kiwi explorer, with beautiful cinematography that takes one on a wondrous journey of the senses.


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