In "One Track Heart," director Jeremy Frindel lays out the biographical basics in boilerplate fashion: the barefoot pilgrimages through India, the struggles with depression, the stumbles and renewals. The admiring documentary grows frustratingly repetitive as friends, meditation experts, fellow yogis and record producer Rick Rubin testify to Krishna Das' talent and sincerity. It's only the unpretentiousness of the searcher himself — in 40-year-old footage, present-day interviews and especially in performance — that pierces the bland surface.
By the time Kagel was offered a chance to tour and record with a band that would become Blue Öyster Cult, he'd found something with a stronger pull than his rock 'n' roll dream: the teachings of the influential guru Maharaj-ji, whose disciples included Timothy Leary cohort Ram Dass. KD, as he likes to be called, speaks with a guarded candor about the rough years that followed his spiritual awakening, and how "singing with people" became his only salvation.
Putting a Western spin on call-and-response kirtan chanting, he began by singing in small yoga centers; this year he performed at the Grammys. A glimpse of one of his MTV-ready videos speaks volumes about the disconnect between pop success and his soul's work. That Krishna Das recognized the conflict and took a realigning timeout from the music biz says plenty about him. But insights are few in this fan letter of a documentary.
— Sheri Linden
"One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das."
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 12 minutes.
Playing: Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles