Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Guru - Reel Views

Language : Hindi

Director : Mani Ratnam

Starring: Abhishek Bachan, Mithun Chakraborty, Ashwarya Rai, R.Madhavan, Vidya Balan

For long I have been a Mani Ratnam fan. I was thrilled by his Nayagan and Thalapathy, moved by his Anjali, Roja and Bombay and was made a romantic at heart by Mouna Ragam and Alaipayuthey. This really accentuated by disappointment at some of his works in the recent past. However Guru (even though it is by no means his best work) has brought back the belief that he still has it in him to attain the lofty standards of expectation he has set in us. Mind you it is not a great movie but it is a good enough movies which gives glimpses of his genius.

Guru is a simple rags to riches story of a man called Gurukanth Desai (Abhishek). The movie is about the various stages of his life - where he goes from being the son of a school teacher to establishing the biggest company in India and the people and challenges he encounters and overcomes in between. He starts off his journey at a petroleum co in Turkey. He leaves a successful career there to start a “bijness” of his own. His reasoning? If the company thinks that his work is good then why should he be working for the company? Why can’t he work for himself? With Rs.15000 Guru sets out thus to make his mark in the Indian business world of the 1950’s. However to start off he requires more funds. This predicament is solved by agreeing to marry Sujatha (Ashwarya), the sister of his friend. The fact that she is elder to him or that she has tried to elope with a lover (who leaves her stranded at the railway station) seems insignificant to him when compared to the fact that he will be getting Rs.25000 from her father as dowry.

Thus armed with a wife, a brother-in-law and some money he comes to Bombay to seek out his dreams. Indian business at those times was tightly controlled by a few elite. It was the time of license-raj and bureaucracy ruled supreme. Gurubhai overcomes these hurdles by bowing down at some instances, by ingenuity at others and even by brute force when required. The means never mattered to him. The end was all he cared for. This brings him in conflict with Manik Dasgupta (Mithun Chakraborty), the editor of a prominent newspaper called The Independent, Guru’s one time mentor and a man who believes in and stands for the truth. He is against Guru’s unscrupulous methods and wants to stop him by exposing his wrong doing in his newspaper. For this he assigns a similar minded and firebrand journalist Shyam (R. Madhavan) to expose many irregularities in the functioning style of Gurubhai. In all this only Manik Dasgupta’s grand daughter (Vidya Balan) supports Gurubhai. How Manik Dasgupta and Shyam try to expose Gurubhai and how Gurubhai overcomes these troubles forms the rest of the movie.

The acting in this movie is superlative. All the actors give a top-notch performance be it the main cast or the support crew. Abhishek is all encompassing in the title role. His dedication to the role is plainly visible. He has put on quite a bit of weight to lent credibility to his role as the older and wealthier Gurubhai. His range of emotions from being a simple villager to one of the greatest industrialist in India is well executed. Definitely his best work till date.
Ashwarya is the surprise package of the film. The plastic doll proves that in the hands of a capable director she can actually emote and not ham her way through the role. Her restraint and subtlety in executing the role of a village belle transforming into a dutiful wife of an industrialist is truly commendable.

The rest of the support cast does a creditable job with Vidya Balan’s essay of the handicapped girl being the one that springs to mind readily. Mind you, her role is so miniscule that you feel that she was wasted. The same applies for R.Madhavan. You can’t help but feel that Mithun Chakraborty was not fully utilized and his character not fully developed.

The direction of the movie is top class. The technical details are very well done. The visuals are well etched. Mani Ratnam manages to keep our interest in the movie even though it could have gone out of control due to the script’s over indulgence with the main character. The movie goes at a good enough pace and does not bring about boredom at any point. My only complaint is that the songs are too close to each other. Then again Mani Ratnam keeps us entertained with some cool picturization of the songs.

I must be honest when I say that I was not too impressed by A.R. Rahman’s music for this movie when I heard it initially. But I started liking the music more after seeing its picturization. The songs mayya mayya and bin thera are catchy. While the visual’s of barso re is equally as good as the song itself.

The main problem with the movie is its script. The film is not able to maintain the tempo and enthusiasm of the first half. The second half is a huge let down when compared to the first. It is only the acting and Mani Ratnam’s direction that saves the day. The movie is all about Guru. Period! The other characters with the exception of Ashwarya’s are not clearly defined. The movie is about a grayish character. Surprisingly the movie seems hesitant and almost apologetic to expose Guru’s shady deals. His illegal and unethical practices are either underplayed or justified. This leads to diluting the conflict between The Independent and Gurubhai. This is the biggest disappointment as it could have been exploited a potentially explosive confrontation between the main characters of this movie. However the end result is that the confrontation is so diluted it just fizzles out without a trace.

Guru is a movie that could have been great if only the makers had shown a bit more guts in dealing with the subject. In the end it feels hijacked by the one person on whom the movie is supposed to be based albeit from the grave.

Rating : 3.5/5


mathew said...

yeah..the film was worth watching for abhishek's perfomance..but it is now where near the old Mani flicks which were a class apart!!

Anonymous said...

Man, didn't u hear that this movie's lead role Gurubhai is about Thirubhai? I heard a lot about this movie's core bein nothin but all about Ambani... The way Guru character is handled in this film, his shadowy actions somewhat deliberately justified, that too by such a director, raises questions as u rightly pointed out in the blog... But then if u put Thirubhai (Ambani) in place of Gurbhai, i think u get an answer... If it were really about Ambani n Reliance, it very much showcases his life... Wat say?