File photo of Osho
File photo of Osho | Commons
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Rajneesh was a pleasure-peddler, an entertainer par-excellence, and a wordsmith. Netflix series Wild Wild Country feeds on that star power of his.

“Check out Wild Wild Country on Netflix, it is a documentary on a man who dared to play God, Osho,” said a message on WhatApp.

What prompted me to watch the six-part opera, so lavishly put together at such huge cost, was this: The person who was recommending it was a filmmaker who makes a living in the epicentre of the entertainment world, Hollywood. Who, apart from being a dear friend, also dared to go along with me to the doors of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh for enlightenment in Koregaon Park, Pune, in the mid-1970s.

Why would a disillusioned sannyasi recommend this series to me? I wondered if he didn’t feel the series has a brave perspective about the man and his tragic fall. But it made me curious enough to click. Even before the opening credits began to roll, I was certain that the movie had a new perspective on Osho and his fall.

Netflix is the new circus in the town. Everybody these days opens his or her conversation by asking, “Did you watch so and so series on Netflix?” My American filmmaker friend says the entertainment consumption has drastically changed in the United States. The world today has been struck by the tsunami of digital entertainment content. To stand out in such an atmosphere is not an easy task. And this monster called Netflix is growing bigger and bigger, on the hour, by the hour.

Hats off to the makers of Wild Wild Country for making their presence felt in such an environment. To put it simply in the Bollywood jargon, Wild Wild Country is a smash hit.

Having raved enough about Netflix and Wild Wild Country, let’s now get down and do some serious talking.

Does the editorial of Wild Wild Country take an audacious perspective on the legacy of the controversial man? No, is my answer. It consciously takes a character like Osho, who is globally known as the ‘sex guru’, and then demonises him and celebrates his fall. By doing that, it endorses, defends, and perpetuates the middle-class value system, which is the heartbeat of mass entertainment products globally.

Therefore, it fails to achieve what it pretends to. The fall of a larger-than-life character has always filled the average man with a kinky delight. We love watching lofty structures being pygmied, collapsing and turning to dust. The fall of Osho has entertained the world for quite some time now. Wild Wild Country does just that.

To me, the most refreshing aspect of this six-episode show is not Osho but Sheela, who was the high priestess of that spiritual whorehouse. I knew Sheela in my turbulent twenties: She was a charming, attractive Gujratan, whom I could never imagine rising to such dizzying heights. Her frail, withered form and the manner in which she lived through her rise and rise, and then her fall and fall, kept me riveted to the series.

Seeing ‘God’ himself handcuffed and stripped of his regal robes may have filled people with delight. But to me, those images were a confirmation that if you dared to cross swords with the swashbuckling state of America, it would do everything in the book to humiliate and beat you to pulp.

The fall of Rajneesh gave billions of people some perverse delight. I too was once a part of that bogus, enlightenment-seeking cult, and had dared to walk out of his paradise, flushing his mala down my toilet, especially when I was a nobody. I thought those images in the series pandered to the sadistic impulse, which is hardwired in the so-called self-proclaimed “good people”, who are too petrified to step out of their conformist existence.

Rajneesh was a great success story. He had guts. But at the end of the day, he was a mere pleasure-peddler, an entertainer par-excellence, a wordsmith who took his followers to the promised land but couldn’t open the doors of heaven for them.

In the spiritual super-bazaar, his wares still sell. That speaks volumes about his star power. And Wild Wild Country feeds on that star power of his.

There is a need in people to look for spiritual solace. Gurus play a social role, and so do prostitutes.

Mahesh Bhatt is a film maker in Mumbai and a former member of the Osho commune in Pune.

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21 Comments Share Your Views

21 COMMENTS

  1. I think focussing on a limited negative things and associating it with OSHO name is a biased attitude.
    Actions of Judas are not the actions of Jesus. Actions of Devadatta are not the action of Budhha.
    There are always negative personalities around Enlightened people just because they are totally open and do not reject anybody.

    Oregon is blessed when Osho put its feet here and Rajneeshpuram was a heaven on earth. Whole town was vegetarian with hundred of new recipes created.
    102 new meditatins techniques were developed in this short time. It was a gathering of cream of humanity with world class scientists,doctors, poets and thinkers.

    Life of millions of people turned positive with Osho.
    There will be millions more humans in coming decades and centuries who will benefit from Osho.

    It is time to pick a book of Osho to enjoy and attend a nearby mediation center. Negativity will help only Osho’s message to shine more but may be harmful to the individual who can just waste life trying to spit on the Moon above.

  2. Comments of Mahesh bhatt speaks more about the below average intelligence of Mahesh bhatt than the heights of the enlightened master of master Osho. One can only pity on Pettiness of Mahesh bhatt.He is still the same, age has not matured him.Netflix has immortalised itself by making will wild country .It will go a long way in creating curiosity about the vision of Osho for centuries to come.

  3. Who cares what Mahesh Bhatt. He came to Osho as a seeker in the beginning, but he side-tracked himself by running after Western girls. I know that he used to chase one Western girl from, I know her Sannyas name Veena. I used to wonder why he is chasing this fat girl, when he has so many girls in Bollywood to seduce. He himself is such a shameless person, who would always join in with his bullshit whenever people discuss Osho. He had come to Osho with Goldie, Vijay Anand, but later when more famous popular star Vinod Khanna came to Osho, Mahesh Bhatt started suffering from inferiority complex. Vinod was loved and admired by most of the people because he was very amicable, friendly and very good at heart. Mahesh Bhatt felt jealous and very bitter, and he want to another guru UG ( Udhaar Guru) Krishnamurti. Basically Mahesh Bhatt had no interest in meditation or transforming himself and grow spiritually, he got more and entangled into his deranged mind games. This continues even more today as he is growing old and nobody bothers about him. He is a big time attention seeker, by hook or crook…

  4. MB is the same person who gave a statement like “If she wouldn’t have been my daughter, I would’ve married her”, for Pooja Bhatt
    Look who is talking about whorehouses. LoL

  5. In reference to their portrayal of Bhagwan, you said that Netflix “demonises him and celebrates his fall.” You must have selected hearing. Netflix presented two diametrically opposed views of Bhagwan, saint and devil; the first from the perspective of his followers, the latter from his detractors. I didn’t put a stop watch to the series, but I left with the impression that the time dedicated to pro-Bhagwan and to anti-Bhagwan information was fairly comparable. Netflix left the thoughtful viewer with the question, “Was Bhagwan’s defeat a good thing?,” and with the realization that their documentary did not answer this question.

    • While makers of the Netflix show Wild Wild Country focus on the controversies around Osho, ardent follower Sangita Kathiwada speaks about what they missed

      Imagine making a six-hour documentary on an experiment based on Einstein’s approach to the outer cosmology with barely a mention of the context: his theory of relativity. That is what the Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country did: it made a six-hour program about an experiment based on Osho’s approach to the inner and outer cosmology with barely a mention of the context: Osho’s vision of a new world populated by the new man.
      There’s a lot that Osho did for the larger good of humanity that the series seems to have completely ignored. His philosophy extended to the betterment of mankind both in terms of the outer environment and the inner being. The biggest benefit of the Osho communes, which spread to all walks of life, is meditation. His followers in Pune and Oregon begin and end their day with meditation, and spend many a quiet hour in between connecting with a higher plane of consciousness. However, it is not all quiet contemplation. Dynamic meditation, as preached by Osho, can find you screaming, shouting, jumping, etc., to release pent up emotion, thereby acting as a tool for anger management. The devotees express themselves in a safe, soundproof auditorium first thing in the morning to begin the day by releasing troubling emotions, creating a more positive outlook for the rest of their day.

      It’s not just emotional betterment that one looks at but also cerebral improvement. Himself an artist whose abstract paintings and sketches have found their way to galleries, Osho ensured that his disciples too learned a creative art. A wide range of workshops take place on a daily basis at the ashram even now – from art and pottery classes to tai chi and dance. Among those who benefited from this philosophy are the likes of Vishal Bharadwaj and AR Rahman.

      Osho believed in improving the aesthetic of one’s environment. It was following this principle that a dirty, fetid nala (gutter) and its surroundings in Pune were transformed into an Osho garden. In Oregon too, acres of barren land were converted into the ashram.

      Decades before sustainable living became a trend, members of the Osho ashram were living an organic lifestyle within the commune. Osho did not go around doing charity, but his teachings aimed at responsible citizens, who would respect their fellow human beings and environment.

      Wild Wild Country focuses on the controversial free love aspect of Osho’s teachings and the people of the nearby town of Antelope, and the scandal surrounding his right-hand woman Ma Anand Sheela. It was a series of five talks (out of a total of more than 5,000) in Mumbai almost 50 years ago for which Osho was rewarded with the demeaning epithet ‘sex-guru’. Perhaps, one should look at the other side of the story.

  6. Osho had terrible mentality. He belonged to the tribe of ram rahim, rampal & the likes. He wasn’t a spiritual person

  7. At least Osho had the power to create a following…..what following doe MB have…He does not have the credentials to criticize any spiritual person…He may be half decent at what he does…that does not qualify him to make bombastic statements on every topic under the sun….
    Osho had the balls to take on the establishment….do you have those balls Mr MB?…One who cannot take care of your own family….whose son was such a fool he got taken in by a global terrorist, and now the foolish dad has the audacity to go to town talking bad about other spiritual gurus…
    You did not understand one word of what OSHo said….only understood the sleazy bits and put it all in your movies…
    Do us a favor…keep your big mouth shut….learn the fundamentals of raising a good family …and stop trashing spiritual gurus, when you cannot offer anybody any solutions to life other than showing Sunny Leone nude on the big screen…

  8. Those who sought him as pleasure seekers may have their own motivation. I have heard his discourses & interpretations of various religious books n texts & found him to be a prolific n fantastic interpreter.

  9. Humiliation and confrontation was on almost all preachers, mystics,who dare to show something unheard of. THAT DOES NOT UNDERMINE CONTENT OF THERE SAVINGS. SO TO SINGLE OUT OSHO, ACHARYA RAJNISHJI IS NOT WORTHY OF COMMENTS.
    THE VERY ACT OF ACCEPTED MALA And Flushing down the drain is not different. MAHESH BHATT MAY BE RIGHT IN HIS ACTIONS FOR NOT being transformed fundamentally in living qualitatively! May have missed some vital clue. RAJNISHJI many a times said, J krishnamurty has failed. What of that? VIMLATAI THAKARE DID UNDERGO FUNDAMENTAL QUALITATIVE CHANGE BY SESSIONS OF HEALING OF EAR PAIN. MAY BE SHE HAD EVOLVED UP TO THE THRESHOLD, inevitable happened. J KRISHNAMURTY DENIED ANY OF HIS INVOLVEMENT! SO SIR, TRANSFORMING FUNDAMENTLY AND QUALITATIVELY IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
    BY JAGDIP MERCHANT , (HAD PERSONAL INTERNATIONAL with RAJNISHJI, Jkrishnamurti, VIMLATAI THAKARE, SUFI SAINTS Nurmohammad BADSHAH bapu, SAFILALA MASTAN OF SARKHEJ AHMEDABAD and Hajarat Haji Warisali Saiyed of Barabanki, Lakhnau U. P.)

  10. I guess “Spiritual Solace” is a wrong word. Religion gives solace, Spirituality in its purest form gives solution, not solace

  11. Mahesh Bhat should know about whorehouses what with Sunny Leone …. he is himself a peddler of pop, an entertainer although not quite “par excellence”…… Some integrity to trash someone after having sampled the pleasures. And to think that Netflix is the epitome of civilization. This fellow is sadak chhap for all his pretences.

    • Absolutely ..and there are some from the Swami cult like Ravishankar and Jaggi..right from cosmetic businesses to real estate they hoard money and clout thru doubius means

  12. One could be tempted to borrow many of the writer’s words, just because of their pinhole-perspective exquisiteness, if not anything else:

    “a pleasure-peddler, an entertainer par-excellence, and a wordsmith”– doesn’t this epithet equally fit persons up and running in the spheres limned by the author himself as well as his American filmmaker friend?

    What could be differentially– or incrementally– wrong or monstrous about a whorehouse, super bazaar or circus, if its cult is spiritual, artful or commercial, so long as its wares sell the gullible commoners en masse?

    And, certainly, a state need not require to be an America, in order to swashbuckle while making powerful personalities past their peaks knuckle and buckle under polarized (public vs political, etc) pressure.

  13. What is MB’s grouse..I don’t understand. If he has been an entertainer par excellence and wonderful wordsmith, how does it take away from his unique perspective on practically everything under the sun. I have yet to come across so called New Age Gurus who are not peddling Osho’s thoughts in their own bottle. So MB has his own personal grouse that cannot be a template for all.

  14. Osho’s followers were adults. Some of them may have been high on drugs, sex. They had judgment, discernment, free choice. Why blame someone else for getting carried away …

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