Movie Review: Guru


I kept my word and watched the top-rated much-hyped path-breaking epoch-making [don’t I just LOVE using those cliches] well-shot Maniflick second day third show. I came back with mixed feelings, but somehow I don’t feel like writing a scathing mocking review, like I normally do. So this is going to be a propah review, fair to the movie, fair to all, considering that the movie has been quite fair to Dhirubhai, whoops, Gurubhai. Yeah, contrary to all you’ve been hearing from the movie’s makers, it’s a thinly-veiled tale heavily inspired by Mr. Ambani’s meteoric rise. I don’t think I should go into the storyline much, coz you reading this must have heard it already from your sis/bro/neighbor/friend if you haven’t already given it a watch.

Where do I start? The beginning. Except that the movie doesn’t start at the beginning – it starts at the end. Only, you don’t know that until you’re at the end. An older AB [not AB senior] putting fundae on his fundae. Flashback to 1951, Idhar village. The schoolmaster’s son has just flunked his finals. And he’s got a job in Turkey [he’s asking permission to go there], so father’s not very angry, and asks him to get lost in Turkey. Permission granted, so the lad and his mum rejoice with dancing and tame expletives.

Cut to Turkey. Man, the place is bee-yoo-tiful if it is the way it’s shot. Gurukant’s working for Shell Oil. He has some side-business of some sort in the market, which I’m not too clear about. But its ingenuity is nowhere close to that of what Mr. Ambani did in Yemen – the Yemeni Rial is a coin of pure silver, so he placed large orders for them, and melted and shipped the coins from Aden to England and other places with a high demand for pure silver.

Item song by Mallika. Somehow, Mayya Mayya reminds me of Chandralekha from Thiruda, Thiruda. Anyway, the song is very well shot, the locations are awesome.

Guru quits his job after seven or so years and comes back home. Cut to shot of girl dancing in rain. Brilliant camerawork. Rajiv Menon, that’s why. That also explains why the song resembles Konjum Mainakkaley from Kandukondain, Kandukondain – it was a Rajiv Menon film. At the end of the song, she runs away from home, wildly remniscent of Heera Rajagopal in Thiruda Thiruda [I hope Mr. Mani Ratnam’ll be happy that I’ve mentioned this movie so many times on this page that people who haven’t watched it yet will go watch it]. Her co-elopee refused to show up, she decides to go away. Ends up meeting Guru on the train. Her folks catch up with her the next station.

Ah, looks like I’m going deep into the details of the story. Which happens when there isn’t all that much of a story to review. To cut a long story short, excuse the expression, Sujata’s [That’s Ash] dowry has gone up by quite a bit, thanks to her little adventure, so Guru marries her as he needs capital to start his bijnes [That’s the only thing in the whole movie, apart from AB’s body language that is there to suggest Guru’s humble beginnings]. Well, anyway, he comes to Mumbai to start a textile business, but finds that it’s hard to break into the ranks. With the help of the editor of a newspaper solely dedicated to publishing the truth [Mithun Chakraborty, doing Ramnath Goenka’s role, and the paper is called “The Independent”, a non-allusion to The Indian Express], and also a few unorthodox methods, he manages to.

Then comes the meteoric rise, which is limited to just a song or two. Not much light is shed about his methods and ingenuity, don’t watch the movie expecting that, you’ll only be disappointed. [I can’t resist adding this: And no, this movie doesn’t help you get into the IIMs].

Next, Guru’s offered something unethical [someone with a bad resemblance to Nusli Wadia]. He quite obviously refuses, and goes to the Press with this story. Old habits die hard, and he uses his unorthodox ways on the staff of The Independent. Mithunda’s miffed. So he gets a young journalist [Madhavan] to steamroll Guru. With the Truth. And there seems to be plenty of it to implicate Gurubhai – misappropriations, bending of rules, not following regulations and stipulations. Stock prices fall. Guru has a stroke. He also has charges slapped on him, and has to attend a hearing.

This whole thing was meant to set the stage for the Climax. Which is a four-and-a-half minute rhetoric rant by AB. So short, you’ll not even notice you’re at the climax. It has absolutely no build-up, no riveting background music, and plenty of rhetoric. You run the risk of missing the point altogether. Which is what happened to most people, who said the movie was wastage [that’s NITK lingo]. The point, as I got it, was a cry for Liberalization, which was yet to come in Ambani’s time [this happened in 1986]. And I wish the director had made it clearer that Guru was acquitted not because of the speech, but due to insufficient evidence [Atleast I hope that was why he was acquitted, it seems to be a really irresponsible film on the lines of <aargh> RDB if it happened to be otherwise].

Cut to the ending, which is the beginning, only, it’s in color. One swing of a camera, it turns out he’s speaking to a gathering of stockholders. …. And the legend lives on. The End.

It’s obvious as Pinocchio’s Nose that this is a Dhirubhai Ambani story. Only wish it had been more spectacular, focused on his methods. It’s an AB film, start to finish, and no other character has much prominence – they’re just characters flitting in and out, even Ash. Madhavan was supposed to be the villain or something, and we were all expecting some sort of a good build-up with music and all before some slick camera swings that give his intro. Nope, nothing of that sort. He’s just in the same room as Mithun, and turns his head casually at AB’s entry. Such a low-key intro that we forgot it was Madhavan, and forgot to yell and whistle at his entry. He doesn’t do all that much, except his usual niceguy-with-a-mission thing. Oh, yes, he gets to kiss Vidya Balan. She doesn’t have ANYTHING to do here, except that. And also hop around in a wheelchair and die slowly.

All said and done, I really wish this had been made in Tamil, with Surya in AB’s role [btw, he’s providing voice for Guru in the dubbed Tamil version]. Mani Ratnam hasn’t really mastered the art of making a Hindi movie; like someone said on the Mani-a post, he’s too rooted in south-indian sensiblities to make something in Hindi that’ll get the same response as it would if it were made in Tamil, or Kannada [his first movie, Pallavi Anupallavi was in Kannada and was Anil Kapoor’s debut]. Like Alaipayuthey generated quite a storm even with non-Tamil-movie watchers who watched it.

On the positive side, it’s very well-shot, as your sis/bro/friend/mom/dad/neighbor must have had you know by now. The locales are too beautiful for words, and the lighting is just right.. Mani picked the right man for the job. Acting-wise, everyone did a good job [Vidya Balan is a bit overstated, though]. AB seems to have worked on his body language. Music is really Rehman [I hope that says it all], and choreography is just right.

I’d say it’s worth a watch.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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13 Responses to Movie Review: Guru

  1. theG says:

    hmmm. funny i though Mayya Mayya was for our dean :).

    the movie was nice, but for the glaring negatives. AB going scot-free, the resolution of the battle not clear (what did happen to madhavan? he just disappeared, while the gurubhai bulldozer (yep, that’s what it is) moved on further ahead.

    well for me the best part was the fact that ash had absolutely no role :).

  2. Tuna Fish says:

    Guess I should start hunting for it on the LAN…

  3. bachodi says:

    good review…
    Agree, the movie was completely hyped.

  4. Nitin says:

    Wasn’t half bad.

  5. wanderlust says:

    @theG:
    like i said, im assuming that he was let off coz of insufficient evidence, not due to the speech. and it wasnt scot-free: he had to pay a fine or something. and the movie’s called Guru, not shyam saxena, so i guess it matters not what happened to madhavan.
    and the Dean part.. *choking noise*
    @tuna fish:
    it’ll be a little while more before it hits the lan, i think – maybe a week more.
    @bachodi:
    i didnt say it was hyped. and i would say it wasnt ALL hype. it WAS a good movie. Typical mani ratnam ending, that’s what pisses people off about his movies.

  6. Karthik Ram says:

    the review isn’t flattering but i wud watch Guru anywayz. as u say this is better than most of the other movies by some margin.

    one thing tht miffs me though is Mani’s reluctance to accept tht it was a fictionalised account of Dirubhai’s life. wats his problem in accepting tht he was inspired by it. esp when pretty much everyone knows it. (i can understand tht he cudn’t stick his neck out and say tht with Iruvar)

    same way, he totally denied tht his AE was inspired by Arriaga and Innaritu’s Amores perros and 21 grams. he didn’t copy it the way a sanjay gupta copied Kaante. there is no shame in admitting tht u were inspired by ‘masterpieces’, is there? why beat around the bush saying kurosawa, bergman and kubrick. honesty pays man.

  7. wanderlust says:

    uh huh? does my review drive people away from the movie?
    mm.. i dont really understand why he’s refusing to accept that this is a dhirubhai story.. no, it isnt just inspiration, it’s totally lifted. the mithun character is actually ramnath goenka of the indian express, and madhavan’s character is a freelancer [i think] called gurumurthy.
    but denying that AE was inspired by amores perros… i guess it wouldnt do for a director of his standing if it was publicised that he admitted that his stories were inspired by foreign flicks. no matter how you’ve lifted the story, all the media and junta understand is that you’ve lifted it off somewhere.
    i guess we can be happy that ambani’s history is depicted faithfully (to a fault) in a movie, and not glamorized and padded up beyond recognition.

  8. saurabh says:

    hi,
    i am an ex-krecian and am desperate to get in touch with someone from krec. I live and work in London and need a letter from the college for my visa extension. however, my best efforts into gettting anyone at krec/nitk to pick up the phone have come to a nought. Your blog appeared when I was googling around for NITK and since you seem to be updating posts regularly, I hope that you pick this up soon enough.
    I will be very grateful if you answer. I need someone to walk into that office for me and speak to someone for five minutes.

    looking forward to your reply,
    thanks,
    saurabh

  9. wanderlust says:

    hi,
    we’re tickled pink on reading your comment, mainly coz not many from so far away read us, and say that they did.
    it’s surprising that no one picked up the phone at nitk, coz when we call, even during the hols, atleast an attender is around to pick up, apart from the answering machine. are you sure you tried the right number, which is +91=(0)824-2474000 ?
    and i guess you must have, but have you tried the contact email id’s given on the nitk site?

  10. AjiNIMC says:

    I came to this blog from http://inferno.aimk.org/bloghunt/about4124.html . Good review on Guru, I really liked it and I have also blogged about it at A, href=”http://www.idealwebtools.com/blog/ambani/”>http://www.idealwebtools.com/blog/ambani/

  11. Ajay B H says:

    Quite an interesting review I can say!!!

  12. I agree Guru was very much hyped.And as you have spotted out correctly,End of the movie is the beginning.You have not mentioned about some of the problems in the script eg. AB has paralysis and it becomes ok(which was not shown in the movie and was assumed by Mani Ratnam that people won’t notice).

    But one thing I would agree is that the movie is highly motivating especially the last 14 minutes.Still remember the dialogue “Mereko yeh Golf khelna nahi ata,Ghode ki race bhi nahi khelta mein,lekin apne dhande ka majboot khiladi hoon mein….”

    Well,this whole sequence is by hearted along with the camera movements 🙂

    Watch Guru many times and you would feel that it is one of the most motivating movies especially for Young Entrepreneurs!!!

    -Himanshu

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