One really, really has to give the people at HBO some credit for how much work goes into their episodes of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. Often hailed as one of TV’s best journalism-based shows, Gumbel and friends handle topics in a way that is both mature and shockingly emotional.
Tuesday’s episode, the 235th in the series, continues that trend in a Maggie Burbank-produced segment simply titled “BIKRAM.” Rather than talking about the national anthem or the decreased ratings, former NFL reporter Andrea Kremer instead travels to India for more on a man that may have more in common with Jim Jones than Yogi Bear. HBO has more in a press release they released to the media.
“Bikram Choudhury, 72, is the force behind the hot yoga craze that bears his name. Over the past three decades, Choudhury has become one of the most successful yoga gurus in the world and a very rich man by certifying instructors to teach his unique brand of yoga, a discipline that combines 26 traditional poses with 105-degree heat and 40% humidity for a grueling 90-minute session. But REAL SPORTS spoke with dozens of certified trainers who liken Choudhury to a cult leader, who berates students during their expensive, weeks-long training and in recent years, has faced allegations of sexual assault, which have resulted in multiple lawsuits. REAL SPORTS travels to Choudhury’s native India, where many wonder if he will remain to avoid his civil suits, and finds him teaching his training classes once again. Correspondent Andrea Kremer questions Choudhury on the disturbing claims of sexual assault, and also sits down with three of the alleged victims, one of whom is speaking publicly for the first time.”
A preview of the episode can be seen below.
For those unfamiliar with Choudhury’s style, the premise is that for 90 minutes, you practice 26 postures of yoga in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40 percent; that’s where the name “hot yoga” obviously comes from. A popular yogi and life guru for over 40 years, Choudhury has come under fire in recent years for both copyright issues and sexual harassment lawsuits. In January 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that an LA jury awarded more than $6.4 million in the first of a series of lawsuits against the legendary yoga guru by his onetime legal advisor, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden.
During the trial, Bodden claimed that Choudhury had sexually harassed her, joining six other women in recent years who each have filed civil lawsuits accusing the man of either harassment or sexual assault. In total, Bodden won $7,324,500 from a judge, with $6.5 million of that coming after the trial.
At one point in the trial, the Indian-born man claimed that he had nothing to give Bodden after spending millions of dollars fighting cases like hers.
“I have to borrow money from my family and friends. I have no money.”
When asked about these claims by Kremer, the legendary yogi gives some questionable and disturbing responses. Take this exchange below
Choudhury: If I need women, I can make a line. The most beautiful, famous, rich women in the world. If I have to sleep with women, then I have to sleep — you know, 5,000 girl (sic) every day.
Kremer: Five thousand women a day want to sleep with you?
Choudhury: Yeah. They commit suicide. Four of them.
Kremer: You’re saying that four different women-
Choudhury: Four different women.
Kremer:…each killed themselves because you wouldn’t have sex with them?
Choudhury: Right…Why I have to harass women? People spend $1 million for one drop of my sperm. I can make $1 million a day. Every drop.
Kremer really does some great work in this episode and when you see it, you’ll understand what I mean. This episode of Real Sports, which also features a story on the late Peter Norman, also known as the “third man” in the iconic John Carlos and Tommie Smith picture from the 1968 Olympics, and a story on xenophobia in a small Maine town, is set to debut on October 25 at 10:00 PM E.T.
Other HBO playdates include Oct. 27 (9:15 a.m., 4:45 a.m.) and 29 (1:15 p.m.), Nov. 2 (1:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m.), 6 (8:00 a.m.), 9 (3:45 p.m., 10:30 p.m.), 11 (4:15 p.m.) and 15 (5:00 a.m.), while HBO2 playdates are scheduled for Oct. 26 (5:00 p.m.) and 28 (3:00 p.m.), and Nov. 1 (12:45 a.m.), 4 (9:00 p.m.), 8 (1:35 a.m.), 12 (1:00 p.m.), 16 (9:30 a.m.) and 19 (9:20 a.m.)
[Featured Image by Greg Saxon/AP Images]