Darshan, The Embrace

2006

Darshan means literally "the embrace," and it is the principal gift of one of India's most famous modern spiritual guides, a woman known simply as Amma. Those seeking her embrace queue by the tens of thousands, and she doesn't stop until she's done, even if it means 21 straight hours of hugs. In 2002, Amma (full name Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) won the Gandhi King Prize for her work, joining the company of Nelson Mandela and Khofi Annan. Jan Kounen's Darshan, The Embrace is a warm documentary that refuses to patronize (or, for that matter, criticise). The portrayal of her day-to-day life as a healer is direct, if limited in scope, and it poses as many questions as it answers. At the very least, the film succeeds in leaving Amma's mystique well intact.

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