Exotica icon Korla Pandit was a Hammond organ virtuoso with a signature look: Nehru jackets, smoky eye makeup, and bejeweled turbans. For their intriguing profile, codirectors John Turner and Eric Christensen cede the narration to music writer R.J. Smith, who explains that Pandit claimed to hail from New Delhi. There were doubts from the start, but he was a charismatic entertainer, so journalists didn't push too hard for details. Smith, however, would eventually discover the truth: Pandit was as Indian as Peruvian singer Yma Súmac was an Incan princess, i.e., not at all.

Pandit moved to Hollywood in 1939 where he took on a Hispanic name in a bid to improve his employment prospects, but after marrying Beryl June DeBeeson, a Disney animator, he reinvented himself as an Indian immigrant, which led to a TV show in which he never said a word. He would just play and stare enigmatically into the camera. As with his nemesis, Liberace, ladies of a certain age loved them some Pandit (new age musician Steven Halpern describes his use of drone as a "sonic dildo"). When the show ended, Pandit churned out records and left a mystery as to his true origins.

This film fills in that blank, which I won't reveal here, but the full truth remains up for grabs. Was Pandit a harmless prankster or a race traitor? One way or the other, he put together a compelling act—emphasis on the word act. recommended