A documentary will be made on The Beatles' 1968 trip to India. Filmmaker Paul Saltzman, a Canadian who spent time with them at the Maharishi's ashram in 1968, first caught our attention in 2005 when he published a book of photos he took. Now he plans a full length movie, with rare footage and interviews.

While dealing with a personal crisis in 1968, Saltzman traveled to the Maharishi's compound. He wasn't aware that The Beatles -- joined by Donovan and Mike Love -- were there until he arrived.

"And the young man who came to talk to me in English, I said I've come to learn meditation," said Saltzman. And he said, 'I'm sorry. The ashram is closed because The Beatles and their wives are here and we're doing a course for TM teachers. So that's when I found out The Beatles were there. I had no idea. I slept in a tent outside the gates for eight days. Anyway, after eight days, he said, 'Come on in. Taught me meditation. Took five minutes, said, 'Before you meditate on your own now, you're now welcome to spend your days in the ashram and eat with us. There's no extra beds, so you'll have to sleep in a tent.' I said, 'Great'."

He was pleased that The Beatles treated him as a fellow student and didn't use their celebrity status to to keep him away. They allowed Saltzman to photograph them.

"In their group, there was a real, beautiful closeness between the four Beatles. They were like brothers. And there was a lot of love and it was very peaceful. You couldn't see anything coming of the breakup. And each of them with their partners -- except John and Cynthia. The only tension of any kind, and it was very subtle, they were very nice human beings and polite and decent with each other. But, there was no question that I could feel a strain between John and Cynthia."

1968 was a turning point in The Beatles career.

"By the way, it was their most creative period of time in their history. They wrote 48 songs in less than eight weeks. Paul was there five weeks, John and George were there eight weeks. They wrote 48 songs while they were there -- which is 20 percent of the total output of their whole careers in less than eight weeks. And phenomenal songs, of course. 17 songs on the White Album are from India and so on and so forth."

According to, Saltzman’s credits include Prom Night In Mississippi, which was screened at Sundance in 2009, and The Last White Knight—Is Reconciliation Possible?, which premiered at Toronto in 2012.


Lisa Berigan

Lisa Berigan

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