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Interview with Bharat Thakur
Date: August 30, 2010, Hyderabad
bharat thakur

The life story of yoga guru turned film producer Bharat Thakur is like flipping through the pages of various autographies of Himalayan Yogis compiled in to one. The now smart, sauve yoga guru was once upon a time, a young student seeking spirituality in the mountains of Himalayas, going around on thick blanket of snow and nursing interests in the tantra. He might have defied his guru for many times but that indiscipline didn't stop him from carrying the legacy of his Guru forward and popularise yoga across the world.

His story is intriguing, interesting and equally captivating. Bharat Thakur, now a married man, the celeb yoga guru with his wife Bhumika Chawla is all set to release his debut film Thakita Thakita on September 3. Read on his exclusive interview to to know more.

The making of Yoga Guru Bharat Thakur
My family hails from Bihar. We belong to Thakur khandan and were landlords. My father worked as chief of Eastern Railways at that time. They didn’t have children for a long time. They went to London to have doctor’s opinion and nothing helped. They took upon Chardham Yatra and visited Yamunothri on their way.

There they met a yogi. They were passing by and that Yogi called my father by his name. Then he asked my parents for water. After drinking water he said, “You are searching for something that is stupid. May be children are not there in your destiny”. My parents repeatedly sought his blessing and asked for the divine intervention and what they should do for kids.

The yogi took some ash and put it on my mother and said that she will give birth for four kids, each one year. He also said that he would visit my parents when the elder kid turns four years old. He also said that the first boy will be born on the date 6. My mother got pregnant 35 days after meeting Yogi. I was the elder kid. My parents went to Yamunothri in search of Yogi and he was not there.

The Yogi came when I was four years old and told my parents that he would be take me (the elder kid) away from my parents along with him. My parents were worried and the Yogi told them that it was a part of their deal. My parents asked me to walk away along with the Yogi. His name was ‘Sukhdev Brahmachari’. He took me along with him to his ashram in Himalayas (above Rishikesh). After 3 years, he took me to Gangotri to stay in Panduranga cave. We were three students with him and all of us (myself, Niranjan and Kankeswari) have similar background. We used to converse in Sanskrit. I first learnt my English word at the age of 22. He used to tie us with a rope in Padmasan and used to hang us for eight hours. We used to go around, kill animals and eat them. We used to roam around in open lands in sub-zero temperature with a tiny cloth wrapped around our private parts.

I used to doubt my guru for his conflicting ideas. And I was very excited with the concept for Tantra at that time. I came to know about a Voodoo practitioner and went in search of that Tantra guru. We returned after seven days and my guru asked where we went to. We told him that we are more interested in learning Tantra. He took us to a guru called Swamy Aghoranath. He was chewing human flesh when we went there. He is also a protégé of my guru and he took us in. We learnt about Tantra for two and half years. We realised that Aghoras don’t eat flesh. They just keep it between their teeth, chew it and then spit it out. I got so much annoyed with Tantra at that time that I decided to jump off from a cliff and committ suicide. He used to find us and get us back to his Ashram.

Then I met a Sufi master (who is also a disciple of my Guru) and went along with him to learn Sufi. Sufi is a superior form of Yoga. I learnt Sufi for four years. I know Quran by-heart. I am very proficient at Urdu.

I went back to my Guru after learning Sufi and stayed with him for 3 years. He got annoyed with my behaviour so much that he threw me out of Ashram finally. I had nowhere else to go but for my parents place. When I reached there, I was told that my parents were killed in a feud and all our properties were taken away. I had no place to go and joined a small job. That is when I got in touch with a Church Father. He took me in and taught me Bible. That was where I learnt my first English word. Incidentally Church Father is also an acquaintance of my Guru. My Guru came to see me there and instructed me to study science. I joined LNIP (Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education), Gwalior. Church Father gave me some money to start my education. There on, I continued my studies on scholarships. I complete my BP, MPE, M Phil and PhD. I will be getting my post doctorate degree in the month of September 2010.

I got into the good books of Madhav Rao Scindia. He asked me to join his ‘Scindia School’, Gwalior as Yoga teacher. I was working as yoga teacher when I got a call from Guru who was 113 years old by then. He told me that it was time for him to leave his physical body and he was looking for his heir. My colleague Niranjan was perfect in everything and I was expecting him to be chosen. But my Guru chose me. He also said that I need not be in Himalayas and practice the spirituality. He asked me to go to the free world and do it in my way. I understood his message and decided to be his heir in disguise. I had so many enemies that I was attacked and hospitalized nine times. I went to Delhi and started a Yoga school. It went on becoming a big corporation. We expanded it all over the world and we have around 50 Yoga schools now. I do practice spirituality and do business at the same time.

Now I own 3 software companies and I am into various lines of business. Approximately 40 lac people got trained in Yoga workshop. I was the personal Yoga instructed for various Indian corporate czars and heads of various nations. We never advertised about ourselves and our business exponentially increased due to word of mouth. I was the personal Yoga teacher for Sunil Mittal when he was going public for Airtel and he taught me about corporatizing any craft. I corporatized Yoga and reaping benefits of it. I was a personal trainer for corporate heads like Russi Modi, Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal, Subrata Roy etc. I have my yoga training institutes in 10 nations and 16 cities across India.

I wrote 24 books on Yoga and penned 5 novels.

Life style:
I sleep for minimal time. I do meditation and yoga for 3 hours and one hour respectively every day. Eating is the most boring thing for me in life. Only thing I enjoy in life is smoking. I am a chain smoker and had been smoking since I was 11. I am either meditating or working when I am awake.

Love at first sight with Bhumika
I watched Roja Kootamfilm (Roja Poolu in Telugu) when I went to Chennai. I loved heroine Bhumika Chawla so much that I told the friends around me that I would marry her. They laughed at me because I was a small man driving a Vespa scooter. Later on, I went to Mumbai and became Yoga instructor for most of the film celebrities. I saw Bhumika in blood and flesh at a party hosted by Salman Khan. I asked Salman to introduce me to Bhumika. He asked me to forget about her by saying she is not of ‘that type’. I got finally introduced to her and convinced her to marry me.

Passion for movies:
I am passionate about movies. I saw my first movie Angoor (Sanjeev Kumar) in Kolkota. I was so naive at that time that I covered my head with hands when it was raining on the screen in the movie. I tried my hand at acting films in Bollywood at one point of time. I watch lots of movies. Bhumika Chawla has a collection of over 4000 DVDs now.

Thakita Thakita happened
We established ‘Downtown Films’ banner to do good cinema. If you look at the quality of our movies, you will realise that they are the best in India and are at par with any of great production houses in Bollywood. We spent around 70 lacs rupees on the launch night of our banner Dowtown Films. I personally supervised each craft of filmmaking for Thakita Thakita. The music is great and it is standing at number one position at Music world now. We distributed the music on our own through Madhura and the sales of audio CDs crossed 50,000 so far. The visuals of the movie are great.

Sreehari Nanu came up with a nice script and I liked it. We initially wanted to make the movie in a budget of 1.7 crores. We hired Senthil Kumar (Magadheera and Arundhati fame) to do cinematography and he said that it would take a budget of at least 3.5 crores to get grandeur on the screen. E Nivas (Shool fame) was my neighbour in Mumbai. He helped us right from story to editing. He suggested Kona and we roped in Kona Venkat to do script doctoring. Kona rewrote the script and the estimated budget went up to 4.5 crores. By the time shoot was complete, the production budget was around 5.5. This excludes advertisements and publicity cost. Bhumika Chawla contributed her bit in scripting, acting, editing and promotion of the movie. She has a 30-minute role of a lecturer in the movie. We made sure that we didn’t compromise on the production values of the movie. Incidentally, Thakita Thakita is the first movie that was shot in Rajiv Gandhi International Airport using a Jimmy Jib Crane. The budget for costumes was 30 lacs.

We took around 3 months to scout all over India to cast the right faces for the characters in Thakita Thakita. Nagarjuna and Anushka played the roles of themselves in the movie. The screen time for Nagarjuna and Anushka in the movie is going to be 12 minutes each.

We are also leaving no stone unturned for publicity of the movie. Huge amount of money is pumped in publicity. We hired 210 hoardings, 90 bus-stands and 400 lollipops (a type of hoarding) for Thakita Thakita.

The raw footage used for this movie is around 1.3 lacs feet. We shot the movie in 115 working days in Vizag, Himalayas, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Editing of the movie is so extensive that we used around 900 hours which is unheard for any Telugu film. We also screened the movie to 100 students and gave them pens and notepads to give us candid and frank feedback. We are extremely happy that they are loved it. We also took in the feedback and suggestions in a serious way and tried to rectify ourselves.

Gut feel about Thakita Thakita
We spent around 6.5 crores on production of Thakita Thakita (after deducting Satillite Rights). This is excluding the publicity and advertisement cost. I feel that we did a great job and delivered a good entertainer. The entire team of Thakita Thakita have invested their blood and sweat into the movie. I am eagerly waiting for the judgment by Telugu film lovers on the morning of 3 September. I am hopeful of a positive result.

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