The transformation of
boy and wannabe rock star Jeffrey Kagel into Krishna Das, a singer of Hindu devotional chants, is an odyssey as long and winding as any searcher's tale.
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
— 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