Olivier Barot’s film funded by Koolesh Shah, Sri Aurobindo Trust, London is conceived as the first of a three part documentary series on Sri Aurobindo. Olivier follows Sri Aurobindo, known to his family and friends as ‘Ara’ from his early childhood in Kolkata, through his years in England, his return to India, and finally, his arrival in Pondicherry. We are given a glimpse of Sri Aurobindo’s family history, his parents, his education, the development of his philosophy and finally, we witness the creation of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga.
We follow his life in the industrial town of Manchester, where he was placed by his father at age 7, at the home of an English vicar. Ara was fully removed from Indian culture, with the expectation that he would absorb English faith and culture, elements seen as necessary in turn of the century India. Olivier’s meticulous research reveals little known details in Sri Aurobindo’s life, as we follow his education and development in Manchester, historic details about his study years at King’s college at Cambridge, and the formation of his revolutionary ideals, from his college years to their mature form in India.
We are shown images of his arrival in India, after which we follow Aravind as he finds his way as a newspaper column writer, then and then in service to the Maharajah of Baroda. As we follow the development of his work and his reacquaintance with beloved India, his mystical experiences and his yoga take form.
Olivier sources little known historical images to give us a fascinating and thought-provoking history of Sri Aurobindo as a child and young man. He completes the portrait with historical images of Hindu and European art of the artistic and intellectual currents of the era, which likely informed Sri Aurobindo’s education and concepts. We also see historical photographs and illustrations of the places and people he spent time in, woven together with rich atmospheric music and a detailed narration of the events in Sri Aurobindo’s life.