A mother wailing outside an ashram to see her daughters who have been barred from meeting her. A distraught father running from pillar to post to find answers pertaining to his missing children. A disillusioned devotee grappling with demands for nude pictures from the man she held in the highest esteem. A young man questioning the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in a place meant for worship and reflection. These are but a few claims made by real devotees which make one wonder, who is lying and who is telling the truth? Or is there more than one version of the truth? Are these just allegations or is there something more than that? What really goes on inside a cult? Can someone claiming to be a Godman, actually turn out to be a Conman? Documenting claims made by ex-devotees and much more, discovery+ Original, ‘My Daughter Joined a Cult’ follows the life of the controversial Swami Nithyananda, whilst giving a voice to individuals who were at the epicenter of it all. The series launches exclusively on discovery+ in India from June 2, with other international territories to follow at a later date.
The three-part series, produced by VICE Studios – the global production division of VICE Media Group – captures the exposure of the self-styled ‘Godman,’ who allegedly deceived his believers by luring them into joining his ashram and gurukul trust ‘Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam’, and then later allegedly abused them. With a range of testimonies from devotees, lawyers, journalists and activists, the docu-series presents a narrative on the highs and lows of Nithyananda’s life in the pursuit of the reason behind his strong following despite being termed a fugitive by his ex-followers. Having lived the story themselves, the followers and ex-devotees provide an intimate perspective whilst revealing crucial details that help us better understand the entire narrative.
“Discovery has always been synonymous with content that is raw and real. Keeping authenticity at the core of our offerings, ‘My Daughter Joined a Cult’ is yet another step towards bringing alive a story that has multiple layers. This series chronicles the journey of followers of Nithyanand, and examines the vulnerabilities of humans that make them susceptible to joining cults to seek answers, sometimes leading to devastating effects. We are certain that viewers will be intrigued by this series, built on the back of hard-hitting firsthand accounts from ex-devotees, along with commentary from observers of his rise and subsequent allegations of abuse and fraud.” Sai Abishek, Original Content Head- South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery.
Samira Kanwar, VP of Content, APAC, VICE Studios, said, “My Daughter Joined A Cult is an uncompromising and unflinching docu-series about the internationally infamous figure of Swami Nithyananda. As is synonymous with VICE Studios, the series offers an authentic and compelling insight into a complex and controversial figure, using raw first-person testimonies and original production techniques. We are proud to be working with discovery+ to bring this series to a wide, global audience.”
Director Naman Saraiya said: “Such a comprehensive and complex investigation into Nithyananda and his religious movement would not have been possible without the trust and cooperation of each person we crossed paths with… be it former devotees, survivors, journalists, lawyers and police officers. I hope the series resonates with audiences around the world, and generates greater awareness of the events that led to his fall from grace and the indelible impact on those left in its wake.” He added, “My Daughter Joined A Cult has been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of my career yet and I am incredibly proud of what the team and I have created with VICE Studios and Samira Kanwar.”
My Daughter Joined a Cult will premiere on discovery+ India from June 2 and is available to stream in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, English, Kannada, and Malayalam. The 3×45’ series is produced by VICE Studios for discovery+, and is directed by Naman Saraiya for VICE Studios.