(2007) Guru Reviews

Bollywood Hungama Review
Meet India’s most powerful man, screams the headlines. You want to believe the statement primarily because the man at the helm of affairs is none other than Mani Ratnam, one of the finest talents India has produced. Irrespective of how his films are received by the paying public, you cannot deny the fact that a Mani Ratnam film is special.

So when GURU, Mani’s new film, makes claims such as the one mentioned above, the viewer saunters into the cineplex with real big expectations.

Mani’s impressive repertoire includes a few bio-pics and now GURU is a welcome addition to the club. This time around, the supremely talented storyteller narrates the story of a man who rises from zilch and becomes the premier industrialist of the country through sheer hard work, determination, passion and grit.

As a story, GURU is tremendously inspiring and makes you feel all the more confident to encounter challenges and hurdles that may crop up in a journey called life. But by no means is GURU a documentary, as a section of the film industry/media would want us to believe. Sure, GURU chronicles several vital facets of an industrialist’s life, but the marriage of enlightenment and entertainment is brilliantly executed here.

With GURU, Mani proves that he’s indeed the guru when it comes to narrating stories. Note the poignant moments in the narrative — Guru’s thorny relationship with his father [Rajendra Gupta], his relationship with a newspaper publisher [Mithun Chakraborty], Guru’s brother-in-law Jignesh [Arya Babbar] staging a walkout and creating a rift between Guru and his wife Sujata [Aishwarya Rai], the confrontation between the journalist [Madhavan] and Guru at the publisher’s residence, Guru’s emotional moment in the hospital when his trusted aide [Manoj Joshi] attempts suicide and of course, the finale.

The graph of GURU escalates gradually and reaches its crescendo in the concluding reels. Guru’s monologue in a packed courtroom — where an enquiry commission is looking into the complaints against Guru’s companies — gives you goose bumps. The simpleton from a village in Gujarat roars like never before and the impact it creates cannot be described in mere words. All you want to say is, it’s the most fitting finale for a fabulous film!

Mani’s choice of the protagonist — Abhishek Bachchan — is equally worthy. You ought to be enormously talented to understand the nuances of the character and Abhishek deserves the highest praise for reliving a complex role. You smile when he smiles, you cry when he cries… you relive every single emotion that the character experiences. Only goes to show that the actor involves you at every step with a stupendous performance.

In a nutshell, GURU packs in a solid punch in those 2.45 hours. The year 2007 may have just begun, but one can confidently state that this Mani Ratnam film will rank prominently amongst the bests of the year when we go into a flashback mode later this year. Put your hands together for one of the most courageous attempts on the Hindi screen. GURU is a film not to be missed!

In a small village of Idar in Gujarat, a young man dreams of making it big some day. His father [Rajendra Gupta], the headmaster of the village school, tells him that dreams never come true. But Gurukant Desai [Abhishek Bachchan] dares to dream!

Set in 1951, GURU tells the story of a ruthlessly ambitious villager who moves to Turkey first and Mumbai later with his wife Sujata [Aishwarya Rai] and brother-in-law Jignesh [Arya Babbar] to fulfill his dreams.

In Mumbai, truth dawns upon Guru that the business world is a closed community ruled by a handful of rich and influential people who don’t believe in giving opportunities to new players. Despite barriers, he starts a company called Shakti Trading and climbs the ladder of success at a furious pace.

Manik Dasgupta aka Nanaji [Mithun Chakraborty], who publishes a newspaper Swatantra, treats Guru as his son. But when he learns that Guru’s means to make it big are not right, he along with the Editor of his newspaper, Shyam [Madhavan], decide to expose Guru’s unjust ways.

Even though GURU is a bio-pic, the serpentine twists and turns in the screenplay are the mainstay of the enterprise. You may have heard of a few incidents, but the life sketch of the leading industrialist makes for an interesting celluloid experience.

From the writing point of view, while GURU holds your attention at most times, there are a few loose ends, though negligible, that you cannot overlook. The tiff between Guru and his bro-in-law Jignesh is one of those tracks. What actually brings about a rift between the two and why doesn’t Jignesh reappear anywhere in the story later is not explained.

Another track that doesn’t really hold your attention is the one between Madhavan-Vidya Balan. Although the emotional sequence between them is a highpoint [the smooch that follows is aesthetically filmed], you still wish there was some more meat in this sub-plot.

Moreover, the film can do without a song ‘Ek Lo Ek Muft’ [appears soon after Guru and his wife are blessed with twins] and also the pacing could’ve been tighter in the second half.

GURU ranks amongst Mani Ratnam’s finest attempts. In fact, it wouldn’t be erroneous to state that the film is at par with his most accomplished works like NAYAKAN, AGNI NAKSHATRAM, GITANJALI, ROJA and BOMBAY. Every sequence in GURU bears the stamp of a genius and the outcome is tremendous.

A.R. Rahman’s music is in sync with the film. ‘Maiya Maiya’ at the start of the film [Mallika Sherawat] is sizzling, while ‘Barso Re’ [Ash’s introduction] and ‘Tere Bina’ are melodious to the core. Rahman’s background score is also topnotch. Rajiv Menon’s cinematography is of international quality. The lensman captures the 1950s look, right to the present day setting, with flourish. Vijay Krishna Acharya’s dialogues are of superior quality. The writing in the last twenty minutes is fantastic.

Reserve all the awards for Abhishek Bachchan. No two opinions on that! His performance in GURU is world class and without doubt, a shade above his career-best work in YUVA. From a sharp teenager in Turkey to the biggest entrepreneur of the country, Abhishek handles the various shades this character demands with adroitness. He takes a giant leap with this film!

Aishwarya Rai too stuns you with a powerful performance. Known for her angelic looks all the while, the actor will make people sit up and notice the reservoirs of talent in GURU. Also, the chemistry between Abhishek and Aishwarya is electrifying. Mithun Chakraborty is in form after a long, long time. And it’s a pleasure to see the veteran deliver a natural performance from start to end.

Madhavan’s role could’ve been stronger, but he enacts it with élan. Vidya Balan too suffers due to a weak characterization, but makes up with a confident performance. Arya Babbar is first-rate in a brief role. The film has a number of characters, but the ones who register a strong impact are Roshan Seth, Manoj Tyagi and Sachin Khedekar.

On the whole, GURU is one of the finest films to come out of the Hindi film industry. At the box-office, its business will be excellent at the multiplexes as compared to the single screens. In fact, the business at the multiplexes [which are performing 12/14/18/20 shows a day] will be enough to make the film a success story in days to come. Strongly recommended, go for it!

Rediff Review

Guru is the stuff of dreams, the fluff of escapism. It is cinema where protagonists succeed defying all odds and where young gophers in Shell tracksuits go on to address stadium-fulls of adoring shareholders. And, it comes complete with songs, thrown in with abrupt abandon.

Except, because this is Bollywood, we’ve seen it all before. Rags to riches tales abound in the unreal song-and-dance world our stars jiggle around in, and we have seen protagonists come from nowhere to become superheroes, just like we’ve seen them fight 81 gangsters armed with their mother’s blessings. Dare to dream, it announces proudly, but isn’t that the moral of pretty much every masala Bollywood pikchur?

Then again, Guru is a Mani Ratnam film. Which automatically ensures restraint and realism in the film and an almost hushed reverence in the audience. The film stops a few inches short of being a biopic, but the director bestows his character, Guru Kant Desai, with enough depth to make him feel as flesh-and-blood as you or me. Sure, there are enough superficial similarities with real life business icons, but the film (sadly?) isn’t about men who share a corporate logo uncannily similar to the hero, it’s about Guru. Period. And he’s quite the character.

Abhishek Bachchan plays the young Gujarati boy with stars in his eyes and an excessive urge to warm his pockets. After landing himself a job in Turkey (and cavorting with the supremely sexy Mallika Sherawat) he works his way up the corporate chain, before he decides he’s got to go into business for himself. ‘Bijness,’ Guru’d say. Deciding to marry his closest friend’s sister because of the dowry he can packet as his starting capital, our leading man strikes gold as he finds himself a dutiful, undeniably pretty wife in the bargain, played by Aishwarya Rai.

Then comes his rise, with lots of happenstance. Strangely, Mani chooses not to dwell too much on his climb itself, preferring to show us bits of success interspersed with A R Rahman’s spectacular music — which, in this case, almost always overwhelms the film around it. So while we have young Guru seeing through a game of cups-and-balls at a Turkish fair and Guru ingeniously winning himself a crucial trading membership on the golf course, the incidents come at a slow clip, minus revelations or insight, with most of the action lying in Guru’s crisply-written dialogue, the hero speaking almost exclusively in punchlines.

And a rise so meteoric does indeed owe a tremendous debt to Miss Fortune. But the ambitious achievers, the ones out there trying to change the world around them while you’re reading this review, aren’t just lucky lads/lasses. They’re the ones leaving absolutely no stone unturned, denying refusal and perpetually keeping eyes peeled for opportunity to exploit. So when a furious, sun burnt Guru glares at a big building at Mumbai’s picturesque Marine Drive and happens to randomly run into the genial publisher of The Independent (Mithun Chakraborty) who happens to like people with a temper, the meeting is chance. The relationship that follows, is all Guru’s doing.

Guru is fuelled by a slew of strong performances. Abhishek Bachchan owns the movie, forcing audiences to sit up straight as it begins and making us laugh and applaud as he carries on.

Bachchan forces himself under the skin of the character, and from gait to accent, proves constantly credible. He’s impressive in every frame, as he ebulliently takes over an alien room by hopping onto a chair, or when he’s trying to be ever so slightly slimy, polishing his spectacles and showing off his smarminess. He thrusts his chest out in jubilation, manages a paunch to rival his pregnant wife’s, and can really, really hold his own (while channeling some of his dad’s glorious anger) during a soliloquy.

And then there’s his lady. Aishwarya Rai starts off cold, breaking into song a few minutes after Ms Sherawat has wowed the crowds, and despite her newfound penchant for very low-cut cholis, she doesn’t quite get you going. Until she reaches a railway station, as abandoned as in Dil Se, reads a Dear Jane letter from a spineless lover, and grits her teeth. This one’s a fiery character, solid of resolve and while she melts irresistibly for her husband, is not likely to take nonsense from anyone else.

Ash is disarmingly natural in the film, holding her own even in scenes where she’s crippled by a lack of dialogue. There is a spontaneous freedom to her, and this is arguably her finest performance, visible especially when she takes over the film’s climax.

Mithunda may be a revelation to Bollywood audiences unfamiliar with his art-house work, but Mani uses him very well in a role that justifies his top billing in the movie’s credits. His character is strong but with weaknesses, great but almost tempted to give up the nobility. Mithun portrays this inner conflict with terrific moderation, and is largely responsible for the film reaching a crescendo in the first half.

As for the others, outside of a fine supporting cast culled from television, the lovely Vidya Balan is okay but somewhat wasted in a role that isn’t as well-etched, and Madhavan proves, yet again, that he can mouth good-boy lines with extreme, believable sincerity. This one is truly a poster boy for India.

Sadly, the film hinges on greatness, but decides to play it safe.

Even as it builds up, with fabulous, infectious enthusiasm right up to the interval, it promises far more than the second half delivers. The film is about a gray character, about Guru Kant Desai (That’s Gurubhai to you) who made questionable decisions, delved into illegality and made offers people couldn’t refuse — a man who never looked back in his overreaching urge to make more money. A character high on ambition, low on scruples and one who considers himself a messiah, albeit purely capitalistic.

Yet while there is much ground to explore this conflict (and the film lays down the ammo in the first half), most of it is oversimplified. While the film does call Guru ‘a smuggler’ and ‘a swindler,’ it does so in hushed tones. The newspapermen are painted with near villainous colours, seeming to persecute the almost-blameless hero. Mani looks so besotted with his hero that the film virtually calls his crimes insignificant and inevitable. There is a point near the end when Guru vociferously likens himself and his fight for more to Gandhi’s freedom struggle, and our jaws drop till he instantly retracts the scandalous line.

This is irresponsible filmmaking coming from a director of such stature. It’s disappointing seeing a non-biopic turn into such hagiography, and while it works completely — save for a slightly winded second half — as a masala film, it really had the potential to be Fantastic. It isn’t.

Hindustan Times Review

Don’t care a fig, just think big. A boy from a Gujarat hamlet wants to do his own gig. Off he goes to Turkey. And after some malarkey with a Mallika-e-Istanbul, lands a cushy job for which he must wear a tie. Not done. So, Hamlet returns to the aridlands to bake his own apple pie. Do or die.

That’s writer-director Mani Ratnam’s Guru – a more than obvious but unacknowledged biopic on the rise, fall and rise of Dhirubhai Ambani. Wonderful. It’s quite a story salt-`n’-peppered with romance, high drama and unbridled ambition, filmed with a reliance on research and authenticity.

In fact, you’re hooked right off because no other living director today has more style, sass and sizzle than Mani sir. The opening reels move from black-and-white (like the director’s Dalapathy) to the earth colours of the rural stretches, the Istanbul streets and then finally to the vibrancy of Bombay in the 1950s, adapting to the business-ops thrown up in independent India.

Absolutely goal-oriented, Gurukant (Abhishek Bachchan) manipulates a dowry-cum-wedding with a restless young woman (Aishwarya Rai). In the city of dreams with her, it’s toughgoing for the wannabe textile tycoon — till he finds a bemused patron in a newspaper baron (Mithun Chakraborty). The adversary of the moment, a Parsi aristrocrat (Slick Hair, cool linen suits), is squashed. No gift vouchers for guessing the allusions to real life personalities. Very easy.

Throughout, the camera pirouettes around Gurubhai, affording an intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of a man who would be a visionary – never mind if he must adopt means that range from the fair to the very foul. Tables turn when he is attacked by the very hands which once fed his ego. In fact, the surrogate father-son relationship with the newspaper baron is edged with irony. Even when they are at principles drawn, there is a residue of emotion and caring.

For a major part of its length, the rags-to-riches dramalogue, is impressive. Indeed, you’re amazed by the attention lavished on period detail, the flashes of humour between Guru and his wife in the bed chamber, the painstakingly created set designs and the mood-accentuating background score.

Alas, a sense of ennui sets in towards the latter half when the script becomes much too verbose. Yakety yak yak. Also, there is far too much dithering over the attraction between the news baron’s physically challenged grand-daughter (Vidya Balan) and a muckraking Reporter Raju (Madhavan). Balan and Madhavan, believe it or collapse, even go in for a Dhoom 2-style liplock. Mwaaah.

Gratifyingly, the dramatic intensity returns in the finale. Gurukant delivers a volatile speechlet about the state of the nation. You’re shaken as well as stirred..albeit not without questioning Ratnam’s message – as long as public welfare is on the agenda, it doesn’t matter if you use bribes and cross legal limits. Really?

Be that as it may, Guru is certainly leagues ahead of the B- to Z-grade movies you’ve been squirming through at the ‘plexes lately. Rajeev Menon’s international calibre cinematography, the expert editing by Sreekar Prasad and AR Rahman’s excellent music score are the fringe benefits.

The dialogue is a bit shaky though, like the hyperbolic equation with the sacrifices of Mahatma Gandhi in the climax address to a stern-faced jury, headed by a chameleonic Roshan Seth no less.

Of the cast, Vidya Balan is wasted. Madhavan is starch stiff. Mithun Chakraborty is passable. Arya Babbar, as Gurukant’s brother-in-law is awkard, suddenly exiled by the screenplay midway as if had overstayed his welcome.

On the other hand, Aishwarya Rai is marvellous, handling complex scenes with grace and empathy. Above all, the enterprise belongs to Abhishek Bachchan. He is astonishingly nuanced and unwaveringly forceful in his career-best performance after Yuva.

Ratnam and Bachchan Jr have given you a film that’s as close to life as say, business is to politics. For the discerning viewer, satisfaction is guaranteed..and some more.

IBN Live Review

From start to finish, from opening credits to end roll, director Mani Ratnam’s new film Guru is a more-or-less accurate documentation of late industrialist and Reliance Industries founder Dhirubhai Ambani’s life.

All key incidents and several significant characters from Ambani’s rags-to-riches life-story are recreated in Ratnam’s film, with the occasional cinematic liberties thrown in.

Guru is after all, the story of an ambitious, middle-class man who had big dreams, a man who would stop at nothing to realise his dreams, a man often accused of using morally questionable means to achieve his goals.

Guru is the story of a man who believed not only in personal growth and personal success, but in empowering the very people who contributed to his success. A man who understood that the growth of an enterprise, a company, a corporation must reflect not only in its owner’s personal growth and success, but in the growth and success of its every shareholder.

You see, the similarities to Ambani’s life are far too many to be simply dismissed as coincidences. And yet Mani Ratnam insists Guru is no biopic of Dhirubhai Ambani. Then again, poor Mani Ratnam is probably just protecting himself and his film.

Remember what happened years ago when word spread that a character in his film Bombay was inspired by Bal Thackeray?

As is the case with most Mani Ratnam films that are centred around seemingly larger themes – Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Kannathil Mutthamital, Alaiypayuthe – Guru too, is on one level a love story.

And here, in the case of Gurubhai Desai and his unflinchingly supportive wife Sujata, played by Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai respectively, it’s a beautiful, intimate, playful, passionate love story.

I mean, think about it, who else but Mani Ratnam could film a bedroom scene playfully? A grown couple in bed, husband gets frisky, next thing you know they’re smacking each other mischievously, and what a moment it makes for.

Now I know I’m stating the obvious when I say that nobody shoots songs the way Mani Ratnam does, but really it’s once again true in Guru. Whether its Mallika Sherawat’s item song set in Turkey, or Aishwarya’s introduction number, every song is part of the narrative and is used specifically to continue the story.

But if there’s one song that sticks out like a sore thumb, then it’s that celebration number in the second half, right after the couple have become parents. It’s a song that doesn’t fit into the narrative and only slackens the film’s pace because it’s so purposeless.

The beauty of Mani Ratnam’s cinema is truly in its unpredictability. How he infuses humour or just creates wonderful moments out of the most ordinary situations. Look at that confrontation scene right before intermission.

The one between Guru and his mentor, newspaper magnate Maneck Dasgupta, played by Mithun Chakraborty – it’s a scene, which in a film by any other director, would have been treated as a loud, screaming match, but here Mani Ratnam treats it gently, and yet he doesn’t lose the gravity of the moment.

My favourite scene in this film is the one in which Guru visits the home of the journalist who’s hell-bent on bringing him down. Once there, he discovers that the reporter, played by R Madhavan is married to his very dear friend, one who has a very special place in Guru’s heart.

It’s an awkward moment between the three of them, and no doubt it’s now a complex relationship he shares with this journalist. But you have to see the simplicity and the beauty with which the director treats this scene.

It’s moments like these that hold together the film and your interest in it, even when the screenplay begins to drag.

The film’s second half moves at a sluggish pace, but I’m not sure how much Mani Ratnam can be blamed for that. You have to understand two things here: One, passage of time is always difficult to show on film. And two, it is after all the story of a man’s life, you can’t expect high-drama at every corner.

The sign of any good film – remember this always – is when all departments blend together seamlessly and no one department stands out from among the others. How many times have you felt that a film hasn’t worked for you, but the camerawork really impressed you? Or the music stood out? The thing about Guru and about most films by Mani Ratnam is the consistency in its technical quality.

Having said that, I’m still going to point out that Rajiv Menon’s cinematography is imaginative and also remarkable in the manner in which it effortlessly alternates depending on the mood – from eye-watering splendor in Aishwarya’s rain song, to dramatic swish-pans in the court scenes, to the lavish, epic-scale trolley movements each time a train pulls into a station.

As for the music, what can one say about A R Rahman’s score that hasn’t been said before, except that he seems to reserve his most versatile best for Mani Ratnam.

Of the film’s cast, Mithun Chakraborty playing the Gandhian newspaper baron, deserves mention for the dignity which he brings to the part, one that’s clearly inspired by Indian Express founder Ramnath Goenka.

The actor in this film who truly blew my mind, is Aishwarya Rai. There is a silent grace, quiet nobility to her performance, which I have to admit I’ve never seen before. I think it can be safely said here that she’s truly a director’s actress.

It’s very evident that Mani Ratnam is neither overwhelmed by her beauty, not intimidated by her star power and perhaps that’s why he treats her character so regularly.

Of course the film belongs to Abhishek Bachchan, the protagonist, Guru himself. And in all honesty, Abhishek rises to the challenge like never before.

With varied expressions, with a change of gait, with studied body language, Abhishek plays both the younger Guru and the older man so impressively that you cannot help admit this is the best he’s been, in years.

Now if you want me to nit-pick, then I’ll admit the film as a whole, isn’t free of flaws. The climax, in my opinion, is a tad weak, and there are enough indulgences that could have been avoided. But still, Guru is an experience you must enjoy.

Few filmmakers can translate their personal vision onto screen the way Mani Ratnam can. So that’s two thumbs up for Guru – it’s a must-watch for all.

Rangan’s Review

An unabashed ode to capitalism is wickedly entertaining for the most part – until it gets all righteous on us.

MANI RATNAM’S Guru opens in a Gujarat village in 1951 – a time when the heady whiffs of independence hadn’t yet rotted away into the stench of cynicism. There’s a can-do spirit in the air – something that informs the actions of both women (like Sujata – played by a spirited, moving, and very beautiful Aishwarya Rai – who elopes after leaving behind a letter to her father that says she wishes to be free, like her country) and men (like Guru – Abhishek Bachchan – who rebels against a job because he’s required to wear that symbolic yoke of the British: a tie). And when Guru leaves his village to seek employment in big, bad Bombay – a city of Buick ads and large, lumbering trams – you can’t help flashing back to Shri 420, which warned the citizens of a newly-independent India about the Faustian bargain that is usually struck in the quest for success. You can make it big, but you’ll have to sell your soul, it said – and this message probably reflected the socialist bent of the era. Shri 420 was, therefore, a morality play, replete with a redemption scenario – and what’s most fascinating about Guru, who would be Raj Kapoor’s contemporary, is that he doesn’t need redeeming. He’s unapologetic about wanting money, making money, and wanting to make more money. If this movie had been made in the time it opens in, its protagonist would have been our cinema’s first unabashed capitalist.

And the first half of Guru – which plays like the movie equivalent of a picaresque novel, where the roguish, low-class hero relies on his wits to survive (except that his “adventures” are in the world of business) – is the textbook definition of intelligent, entertaining, commercial cinema. (Well, except for the songs, but more about that later.) Guru is a charming crook who’ll do anything it takes – and that includes shamelessly marrying the older Sujata simply because she brings with her a fat dowry. (And irony of ironies, the man she wanted to elope with earlier, he was a red-flag waver, a… communist.) In these early portions, almost everything is made to look like a business transaction – whether it’s Guru jingling the coins in his hand as he leaves Turkey (where he’s worked for a while; the exposure to the spice markets there prepare him for the textile markets in Bombay), or Sujata haggling with the vegetable vendor, or Sujata striking a post-pooja deal with the father-like newspaper publisher (Mithun Chakraborty, superbly torn between love for an individual and loyalty to a nation) that she’ll give him a piece of the sweet prasad only if he brushes aside his atheism and allows her to apply a teeka on his forehead, or the doctor telling Guru that Sujata has had twins. (“Double munafa,” he cracks, and I cracked up even more upon hearing the names of the two girls – Disha and Drishti, both of which are indicative of the kind of verbiage that wouldn’t be out of place in a company’s annual report. And it’s a nice touch that Guru has his children late in life; perhaps he had to focus on building an empire before building a family.)

The birth of Guru’s children, however, leads to one of the least graceful segments in the film – and that’s the sequence built around the number Ek lo ek muft, where Abhishek downs a brass-tumblerful of bhang and begins to dance. I am all for the conventions of commercial cinema, but did we really need to see Abhishek – at this point, a hugely successful businessman of a certain age – executing the choreography. Wouldn’t the song have been just as fun with a group of dancers around Abhishek and Aishwarya (who also gets into the act, post-partum)? This made me remember Trishul – a movie with a different Bachchan, but with a similar business background – and not once did we see the hero hoofing around; singing, yes, but dancing, no. Mani Ratnam was, at one time, the most exciting conceptualiser of music videos, but with Kannathil Muthamittal and Yuva, I got the suspicion that he was losing interest in filming songs – and that feeling intensifies when you look at what’s been done with AR Rahman’s terrific soundtrack in Guru. Mayya Mayya comes off as the first-ever item number to be shoehorned into a Mani Ratnam movie, though this may be a result of some of the Turkey portions being edited out – for the cutaways with Mallika Sherawat suggest that she played some sort of role in Guru’s life in Istanbul. And this song is followed almost immediately by Aishwarya Rai going Barso re, which is heavily reminiscent of Ratnam’s earlier outings in the rain. (But the second stanza, which shows Sujata leaving her house, is perfectly in sync with Gulzar’s words, where she asks her surroundings not to forget her. Plus, the nighttime photography is breathtaking. The entire film, actually, is a Rajiv Menon showreel.) More heartbreak follows with the exquisite Ae hairat-e-aashiqui being butchered and served up in pieces as background music between dialogues, and with Tere bina oddly interspersing intimate moments of sadness with all-out, all-colour choreographic spectacle.

For all these musical breaks, the headiest song-dance equivalents are in the film’s graceful leaps across time – one minute you see a poster of Naya Daur, the next you hear Jo vaada kiya woh on the gramophone, and you know you’ve hopped over from the 1950s to the 1960s. There’s a staggering amount of detail in Guru, like crumbs strewn on a trail to help you pick up the pieces. Earlier, for instance, I wondered why this villager never had the slightest trace of self-doubt. The first day he walks into the textile trading market and takes in the complete chaos there, he’s hardly overwhelmed. Instead, when he asks for membership into this association and a trader discourages him, he looks up with serene self-awareness and says that one day he’ll be back, trading alongside. But perhaps his confidence is the confidence of a new India. After all, when he returns home from Istanbul, as he gets off the train and sets foot on the platform, the sky behind him spills over with the glow of the rising sun – the promise of a new dawn and all that. And Abhishek Bachchan’s commanding performance – aided greatly by dialogues that positively snap and crackle with electricity – takes care of the rest. Before the film’s release, the actor kept claiming that he’d never get another role like this – and now you see that this isn’t just hype. This is really one of those parts that span years, moods, highs, lows – and to get a sense of a part with similar scope, it may help to recall Citizen Kane. Abhishek is just a few years older than Orson Welles was when he portrayed Kane across a lifespan, and that’s not the only way Guru reminds you of the earlier classic. Both films feature a morally ambiguous hero, both have as their conscience a straight-arrow reporter (Shyam Saxena here, played by Madhavan with a quiet dignity), both include a major moment with their leading men on a stage delivering a rousing speech, and both choose to visit their heroes at key points in their lives and thus dispense with conventional notions of character continuity (the bit in Guru where the passage of ten years is bookended by the flashing of cameras appears a direct nod to Welles and Kane).

But where Guru diverges from Kane is in wanting us to empathise with its protagonist – something Welles wasn’t at all interested in; he gave us instead a cold, calcified bastard who stood for the failures that follow capitalistic success – and in that respect, it may be more useful to revisit Ratnam’s own Nayakan, beginning with the fact that it was Velu bhai there and it’s Guru bhai here. Madhavan’s expose-the-hero-for-who-he-is character reminds you of Nasser’s cop in the earlier film, and they’re both married to someone very close to the person they’re trying to bring down. When Guru storms into Shyam Saxena’s house, all set for a confrontation, and then stops short because he sees Saxena’s wedding picture, that’s right out of Nayakan, as is the bit where an enquiry commission is looking into Guru’s shady deals and a well-wisher tells our hero – as he’s about to enter the courtroom – not to worry, that nothing will happen to him. Another startlingly similar scene here is the one where Guru barges into the house of someone who’s caused his business to shut down and intimidates this man into backing off, the way Velu barged into the house of the seth who was trying to raze down the slums and intimidated this man into backing off. But the most significant parallel is in the way both films shield us – to a large extent – from the protagonists’ misdeeds; they’re good to those around them, and they’re bad only to the characters we don’t especially care about. We know Velu bhai had people killed, just as we know Guru bhai has broken all laws, and then some. But apart from the stray sight of Guru blackmailing a politician – a moment filled with deliciously implied menace – we’re not shown things that would make it difficult for us to side with our hero, and he’s as deified by this film’s end as Velu was in Nayakan. (The anthemic Jaage hain plays non-stop in the background, apparently cueing not just emotional but spiritual uplift.)

And that, to me, was the biggest problem in Guru. I was all for Guru as long as he was using every trick in the book to get ahead. After all, who doesn’t like a root-for-the-underdog story, especially one this ravishingly crafted? (Some of the images have to be seen to be believed, like the one that has Guru standing at the site where his factory is going to be built, with the plans spread out between his hands in a way that covers the entire bottom portion of the screen – and as a final note of grace, he gets a blessing from the heavens: it rains.) But to say that he did this all for the people, his shareholders – isn’t that a little disingenuous? Maybe you could equate the general circumstances that made Velu and Guru the men they turned out to be – both broke laws because the existing system wouldn’t help them; they were have-nots who had to grab because the haves would not give – but surely there’s a difference between someone becoming a gangster-boss to protect the underprivileged people around him and someone becoming a crooked businessmen to line his own pockets. I didn’t care that Guru cheated the government by exceeding his production quotas or by faking exports or by brushing aside licensing regulations. But the implication that this makes him some sort of messiah, that the efforts of people like him could help us crawl out of third-worldness and begin nipping at the First World’s heels – all this, in a grandstanding bit of oration from Guru, hysterically filmed with whip-pans and fast-zooms and lightning-strobe effects – struck me as a rather unconvincing attempt to extrapolate a single man’s success story to the context of an entire nation, despite the conceit that the materialism of this character mirrors the materialism of India. Why not simply leave things at the fact that he did well, that he earned all those crores, and, yes, those who hitched their wagon to this rising star also did well, and end of story?

The film is so stacked in favour of its leading man – the indulgent smile that the head of the enquiry commission (Roshan Seth) gives after Guru makes his defense argument, it’s as if he simply caught a kid with his hand in the cookie jar; besides, Seth’s plummy intonations are a perfect stand-in for the Brits of yore, for he’s yet another someone trying to repress the Hindi-speaking everyIndian represented by Guru – that the stabs at exposing his other side are quite unconvincing. Madhavan, especially, suffers from this because you expect more from this morally-indignant firebrand-journalist – that too, one introduced so dramatically as a potential adversary; a “hero” to the “villain” that Guru represents – than that silly outburst at Guru’s factory where he leaves the manager (a very fine Manoj Joshi) shaking about the extent to which he is aware of the production illegalities there. I came away remembering more of his scenes with Vidya Balan, a multiple sclerosis victim, who – at first – seemed merely to be this film’s equivalent of Tinnu Anand’s mental-defective from Nayakan, someone who helps bring out the sympathetic side of the protagonist and who hero-worships him, but she has a few resonant moments that showcase Ratnam’s mastery in sketching out even the people on the sidelines. She has very little screen time, but she leaves a big impression – as do Rajendra Gupta (as Guru’s father), Arya Babbar (as Sujata’s brother and Guru’s partner-in-law), Sachin Khedekar (as Sujata’s hard-of-hearing father), Darshan Zariwala (as Guru’s loyal aide) and Dhritiman Chaterji (dripping silky menace as a business rival). It’s enormously gratifying when even these blink-and-miss characters appear to exist with all the weight of people who’ve led full lives. It gives the film the dimensions of a novel when you learn, for instance, that Khedekar was the one who lent money to Guru’s father for a business venture that flopped, and when Guru goes back to Khedekar to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage, he’s really doing what his father did, which is to ask for (dowry) money.

And Sujata is one of Mani Ratnam’s most vivid, vibrant heroines. She’s Guru’s wife, which is to say – in Guru’s lingo – she’s his 50% partner, and this is one of those rare instances that a heroine has a part as significant and as expansive as the hero’s. She’s one of those Indian wives who are always behind their husbands, no matter what, and if she has reservations about his way of doing things, she’s not one to let them show. There’s a remarkable scene towards the end when Guru asks her if he’s truly as corrupt as the media is making him out to be, and she replies in a beautifully understated way. Looking at this older version of her husband, she says, “Mere pati ke shakal se milti hai.” You could take this to mean that the man beside her merely looks like the man she once married (and that everything else about him is different), or you could interpret this as a simple affirmation that he’s still the same to her and that she’s simply referring to the lines on his face and the streaks of grey in his hair – but either way, you come away with a sense of her unflinching commitment to her husband. And that’s really why you watch Mani Ratnam’s movies. He may display an alarming naiveté in describing political or business scenarios, and his endings may seem disappointingly tame when compared to the truly wonderful beginnings and middles – but when it comes to relationships, he’s out there in a league all by himself. Even if the larger picture doesn’t grab you, you come away dazzled by the characters and their interpersonal dynamics – and that’s the stuff that makes each one of his films, well, a reliance product.

Kaveetaa Kaul Review (NaachGaana)

A friend, who is also a film maker, enquired of me conspiratorially, prior to the release of the film ‘Guru’ as to what were my reactions to the promos or rather what were the expectations from the film. The pre- release buzz which surrounds a film based on rather nebulous criteria, word of mouth gossip, disgruntled colleagues, envious peers, or the plain diabolic variety of ‘industrywallahs, who revel in pulling down any effort they feel threatened by either by sheer enormity of the project or sincerity in its making, is often hugely erroneous.

Since I correspond to none of the above mentioned categories, my assessment was based on plain heuristics, if I may add, home grown. I had expected a ‘CitizenKane-ish’ film, dark, serious, perhaps boring. That it was meant to be major boost vehicle for AB’s son Abhishek, was another factor which added to the sentiment that here was a film which may attempt to take on more than it can chew, and leave the viewer dull and lifeless in a zombie like state ,once the curtains fell.

Lets just say simply, I erred. It came across as a film which was remorseless in its argument, unapologetic in its message. That to me was a refreshing, invigorating departure from the usual hackneyed affair churned out in Bollywood..daring to be different. No moral fable with a pretentious message for social upliftment .

I refused to view it as a venture which was biographical . No sirree.. No Dhirubhai Ambani legions meant to be niggling you while viewing . It unsettles you, brings on dynamics not meant to be considered and before you know it, you are criticising the logistics of events, frantically connecting fictitious names with their real counterparts, when all you should be doing is surrendering your senses to a creative attempt.

One of the most unnerving tasks for any film maker, is the onset of his film, when establishing his characters with conviction and in the light they are meant to be viewed in the next three hours. Mani Ratnam scored majorly in this area. The Turkey bit, as also the early years in Gujarat (scripted by Suhasini Ratnam, one hears) were shot with a certain innocent vivaciousness and energy. Of course the newness of the actual locale was a contributory factor.

However, what rankled me was the introduction of Aishwarya , with that rather inane song number in the rain after which she quicky runs home to change and elope!! Hello..why should we swallow that! It would have been so apt had the juxtaposition of ‘departures’ been dealt with synonymously. Consider this. Abhishek is leaving from Turkey , to return to his land, to fulfill his dreams . Aishwarya is leaving her home in search of her dreams as well. Both were destined to meet on the same train a few minutes later( screen time) Juxtaposing departures, with synchronocity of aspirations.. Perfect. So why was not this available opportunity readymade in the script, not exploited? It would have given Ash a substantive entry point. I would hate to think that inclusion of a song sung on top of a rock, or behind another boulder in the rain was the raison d’etre of such a crucial decision…sigh..all they had to do was ask..me Kidding..Criticising another’s work is soo much simpler.

Barring this , the story now goes on to graph the journey of a spirited, uneducated, village boy, never a wannabe, but made up of Alexander’s grit of conquering the world, as it were, and the ups and downs of his life. Ofcourse certain situations were ‘filmi’ and too good to be true . But, alls fair if the sum total is innovatively different.

For the first time, the pair of Ash and Abhishek, so madly, badly, deeply in love otherwise, translated into an on screen chemisry which kept one rivetted. They were endearing and lovable as a couple . The song ‘aye hairathey’ lent magically to the aura of a romance which brought a smile to your face and a longing in your heart. Mani Ratnam ..vintage..most certainly.

Despite the angry protests of the ‘rationalising of unlawful activities’ kinda outburst from most critics of the film, to me it seemed hardly worth reckoning, both from a cinegoers pov and that of a citizens.. Without going off tangentially into an economic reform tirade, one can say with utmost placidity, if laws that encourage growth are promulgated with a vision to encompass masses, lawlessness would not be an option. ‘Laissez faire’ a viable option, capitalism an intended goal. I think that is what the final speech of Abhishek is meant to convey when the parallel with Mahatama Gandhis civil disobedience movement is drawn in almost sanctimonious exemplificartion, of his modus operandi.

Just a thought.. If indeed the occurrence in the 80’s when Sr. Ambani was recriminated for abuse of law, had resulted in conviction..there would have been no Reliance! So what does this speak of.. archaic laws and blinkered execution of the self same.

What stuck out as a sore thumb was the character of Vidya Balan…both in its scripting and her acting abilities. Cynically speaking it was meant to underline the humane side of ‘Guru Bhai’..the almost angelic saintly, philosophical man who is a businessman, married to his set of ethics but not without the strain of a compassionate, caring human being first, with no hint of revenge or retribution..in stark contrast to ‘Nanaji’..I suppose. But where was the need to bring on a child who suddenly grows up into someone on a wheel chair, and agrees to marry the single person on this planet who has vowed to destroy her Guru Bhai!

Abhishek Bachchan under the hawk like supervision, guidance, and Direction of Mani Ratnam, has given a performance which has been his best so far. It has at once catapulted him into a muliticrore star bracket, and placed him along the erstwhile list of the star- actors of Bollywood. Harangued by the burden of being Sr. Bachchans son must have been a daunting task. The albatross is free from his neck. He can look forward to a glorious future..personally and professionally.

Albeit with a caveat. Its no big secret that this enterprise was author backed, sharpened to perfection for showcasing his talent, with the help of a a master craftsman. Will Abhishek be successful sans these? Will he be able to sustain his credibility? Will a less talented Director mange to extricate a performance worth the mention? This remains to be seen.. .his next release will tell all!

Aishwarya Rai, despite criticism from various quarters , has remained a personal favourite. Her performance in “Hum dil de chuke sanam’ and ‘Raincoat’ had more or less amply proven her mettle. But sadly, often beauty impedes the recognition of talent. Its as if the two are mutually exclusive..If you are beautiful, you cannot be as talented..Why? ..Just… Well , that jinx has been broken presumably. She pulls off an underplayed, sincere, mature performance, with just the right tenor of mischief in the eyes and pride in the accomplishments of ‘her man’. One can almost hear the briefing by the Director here. Lets face it..every actor needs a Director to lift the perfrmance form the mundane and plastic to one which takes it to dizzy heights.

The rather stridently bold characterisation of the ‘woman behind the man’ Sujata,was brought out brilliantly. What a relief and refreshing diametrically opposite stand to not just pathetic representation in Bollywood down the years, but those regressive tele seials. Here was a woman, who preferred to be in the background, one step behind her man publicly, but make no mistake about it, she was a stough as nails. The scene when Gurubhai collapses on the floor, struck with paralysis, Sujata responded, with ‘ keep breathing, while I get an ambulance’.. No wailings, harried dramtics, though with tension writ large in her body language, she handled the situation with stoicness and adeptness, so remarkable..if not exemplary.. An Ardhangini in the truest connotation of the term, where she was a ‘fifty percent partner’ not just economically, but sharing centrestage with her husband both for the brickbats and the bouquets.

The ‘bedroom scene’ was a moment in cinema which I will never forget. Stripped of pretensions, the two in complete abandon , innocence, naivete, as if frolicked, intuitively, naturally, unaffectedly.. with an undercurrrent of passion running through. I wonder who the creator of that scene was. It difficult to script a moment of the kind..it either organically grows on the sets as a result of chemistry or in a rare second of innovation, or then is a replica of a personal experience. It culminated beautifully in the ‘jhoola sequence’.

Mani Ratnam, is one emancipated male..deserved of a tribute..in more ways than just the maker of a technically brilliant film. Anyone who attempts to break away from the shackles of stereotypes and risks presenting a woman, otherwise conventional, in a passive aggressive stance, strong, determined, non flummoxed, is worthy of being lauded. While the man behind it may have been Mani sir, yet Ashs histrionics cannot be swept aside. She underplayed the character, with just the right dose of fire in her eyes, and a stiffness in her body which spoke volumes. This is the tenor of women that embodies the truth as prevalent today or rather as ought to be the paradigm of woman hood.

Mithun Chakraborty is unrecognisable from his ‘disco dancer days’. One is compelled to recall however his advent into Bollywood. He was A Mrinal Sen protege in ‘Mrigaya’..remember that powerhouse performance? In ‘Guru’ as ‘Nanaji’, the honest to a fault editor of a Newspaper who prides himself in his veracious demeanour and upright sensibilities, he came out TOPS. Not a single scene which struck one as being artificial, contrived, or forced. He lived his character..which is truly noteworthy, considering his long hiatus from films..But then again only goes to prove ..Once an Actor, always an Actor.

The performance of Roshan Seth deserves special mention. His screen time may not have exceeeded 10 minutes. Yet, the sheer reality and authenticity of his emotion, made you believe as if it was an Honorable Judge Of The Supreme Court, whose presence awed you.. Actors like him come but once in a while. His every nuance, from the lift of an eyebrow to the hint of a smile conveyed magnificently…In humble praise..Your Honor.

Cinematography by Rajiv Menon was world class..to say the least. It lent remarkably to the tone, ambience, mood of the film, almost as if speaking a language, subtle and yet unmistakable.

Although based in Mumbai factually and scriptwise, Shooting for the film took place in Turkey and Badami, Melkote, Karnataka, as well as in Chennai and Madurai, Tamil Nadu.(wiki) and other locations except.. Mumbai. What this must have translated into budget wise is anybody’s guess. To recreate a city outside of its periphery is an astronomical extravaganza. Suffice to say that most films to day have a budget of what might have been just the CG (computer graphics), DI ( digital intermedia) cost of sets , involved in this film. Dichotomies at work even in the Film Industry are tell tale of those of India as a whole!

To surmise, Mani Ratnam, allegedly inspired, has dealt out a hand that insiduously proves that he is one of the Gurus in our industry..a man who knows fully well the worth of his wares and has honed his skill at selling it adroitly.

Hindi Song Review

Mani Ratnam, one of the finest filmmakers of India has come out with his new film called GURU amidst great expectations. The master storyteller tells the story of a man who rises from the bottom and becomes the premier industrialist of the country through hard work, determination, passion, and strategy.

Basically, GURU is a tremendously inspiring story that makes the viewer feel more confident to encounter challenges and hurdles in life. While the movie has a strong message, which is highly motivating, the entertainment value has been commendably added to the whole fair. There is almost no moment when you feel bored.

Set in 1951, GURU is a story of a dreamer. It depicts the way how the dreamer makes his dreams a reality. A young man living in a small village of Idar in Gujarat, dreams of making it big some day. His father [Rajendra Gupta], the headmaster of the village school, tells him that dreams never come true. But Gurukant Desai [Abhishek Bachchan] dares to dream!

The ruthlessly ambitious villager moves to Turkey first and Mumbai later with his wife Sujata [Aishwarya Rai] and brother-in-law Jignesh [Arya Babbar] to fulfill his dreams.

In Mumbai, he encounters the hard reality. The business world in Mumbai is a closed community ruled by a handful of rich and influential people who don’t believe in giving opportunities to new players. Guru is unperturbed and dares to take on the big weights with his determination and strategic brilliance. He gets a break through and starts Shakti Trading.

His unique ways and amazing zeal help him climb the ladder of success at a furious pace. He doesn’t hesitate to violate the laws to get his plans work. He ultimately captures the commanding heights. His dreams come true.

Manik Dasgupta aka Nanaji [Mithun Chakraborty], who publishes a newspaper Swatantra, treats Guru as his son. But when he learns that Guru’s means to make it big are not always right, he along with the Editor of his newspaper, Shyam [Madhavan], decide to expose Guru’s unjust ways.

His wife Sujatha doesn’t remain a mute spectator in his life. She provides him the much needed emotional support. When he fells sick she comes to the forefront to face the odds.

The rest of the film depicts what happens to the fight between the newspaper and the industrialist. It also tells how he faces the trial of justice.

There is plenty of dazzling moments in the film. Guru’s brother-in-law Jignesh [Arya Babbar] staging a walkout and creating a rift between Guru and his wife, the confrontation between the journalist [Madhavan] and Guru at the publisher’s residence, Guru’s emotional moment in the hospital when his trusted aide [Manoj Joshi] attempts suicide are some samples. The finale in which we see the peak of Junior B’s powerful performance is the high point of the movie.

guru-4 (27K)Guru’s strange relationships with his father [Rajendra Gupta], and newspaper publisher Nanaji, and his aide have been conceived and portrayed in a fine manner. The director has handled the vicissitudes of the life of the protagonist in a manner that the audience naturally identifies with the character. The depiction of the marital relationship between Guru and Sujatha is amazing. The chemistry between the pair is incredible.

The graph of GURU escalates gradually and reaches its peak in the final scenes. Guru’s monologue in a packed courtroom is awesome. The impact it creates is beyond the realms of words to describe.

Ace director Mani Ratnam has documented the life of an industrialist but has carefully avoids the boredom of a documentary. The twists and turns in the screenplay keep the interest of the audience intact. The film has been executed with a lot of maturity and credibility. The director has maintained his grip over the medium through out the film. He has chosen right actors and extracted top class performances from them. The script is absorbing.

However, there are a few loose ends that cannot be overlooked. The tiff between Guru and his bro-in-law Jignesh is not convincing. Moreover, the film doesn’t say anything about what happened to Jignesh after the rift. The way young Guru manages to corner the IAS officer sans logic.

The Madhavan-Vidya Balan track could have been developed further. The emotional dimension between them has been told beautifully and the kissing scene is aesthetically filmed. But the track somehow seems to be an extra fitting in the backdrop of the overall narrative. More justification could have been added to this sub-plot.

The pace in the second half could have been better. Apart from tightening the narrative, the director could have done away with the song ‘Ek Lo Ek Muft’.

Despite these shortcomings, GURU ranks amongst Mani Ratnam’s excellent attempts. The unique stamp of the genius is seen in each sequence and the impact is tremendous.

A.R. Rahman’s music gels well with the film. ‘Maiya Maiya’ at the start of the film [Mallika Sherawat] is peppy, while ‘Barso Re’ [Ash’s introduction – what a dance!] and ‘Tere Bina’ are melodious. Background score adds another dimension to the entire venture. Rajiv Menon’s cinematography is on par with international standards. The look and feel of 1950s has been stunningly captured. Dialogues (Vijay Krishna Acharya) are poignant. The dialogues in the climax are breathtaking.

Abhishek Bachchan steals the show with his outstanding performance. He has shrewdly grasped the nuances of the character and handled it excellently. This one is a complex role and hence Abhishek deserves special complement. He has depicted the various stages of life with commendable ease. The intensity with which the average audience identifies with the character speaks about the success of the characterization and the performance. From a sharp teenager in Turkey to the biggest entrepreneur of the country, Abhishek expresses the various shades this character demands with dexterity.

In short, Abhishek Bachchan’s performance in GURU is top class. Hats off to Junior B.

Aishwarya Rai too comes out with a powerful performance. She has got a sumptuous role and handled it very well. She adds a sort of grace to the character. Her looks are amazing and her acting is stunning. GURU has unearthed some hitherto unknown talents from her. Her dancing, particularly in the intro song is simply marvelous. She exudes a lot of maturity when she depicts an older Sujatha.

Mithun Chakraborty plays the role of an honest newspaper owner. His experience and unique skills help him to deliver a natural performance.

Madhavan does well in a small but important role. So is the case with Vidya Balan. Mallika Sheravat sizzles in the item number with her curvaceous body.

Overall, GURU is one of the finest films that have come out in Bollywood. The initial reports from the box-office are encouraging. The business is expected to be good at the multiplexes.

Don’t miss it.

Bollyspice Review
Mani Ratnam has always been renowned for making high quality films. He has been heralded as one of the finest directors from India. Mostly working in the South, Mani is often been overlooked in Bollywood. Although he made good films in Bollywood which got him critical success, they never struck a chord with the audience and resulted in box office failure. Mani was all set to change that when he took on Guru, his most ambitious project to date. Now did this movie have what it takes to help Mani go over the hump? The answer is an enthusiastic yes, as not only is Guru Mani’s finest work to date; it is also one of the finest films to come out of Bollywood in recent times.This one is definitely for the classes, but it’s a movie even the masses can relate to and enjoy. Guru is simply cinematic excellence at its best!

Going into Guru, it was a known fact that the public would be treated to a really good film. No one knew exactly how good the film would really be. Would it be Mani’s best work? Would it be good, but not Mani’s best? Would it be good, but not up to Mani’s standards? After watching the film, it is loud and clear, that this clearly is the best work Mani Ratnam has done in his career. The film is so powerful and gripping, you cannot help but stay focused on the proceedings at hand. The film is really long, almost reaching the three hour mark, but that doesn’t have a negative impact on the film. Not once do you feel that the movie is getting slow and boring. The movie may be really wordy, but that’s exactly what works for the film. You are so spellbound by the powerful dialogues and the ferocity with which these dialogues have been delivered. This story of Gurukant Desai is so strong, that it stays with you for much longer after the movie is over. It’s been two months since I’ve watched the film and yet I still can’t stop thinking about how amazing this film was. The best thing about the movie is even though it is a biopic of some sort; the movie still has commercial value. It is a serious and hard hitting film, and yet it entertains you. That is what fine cinema is all about.

The fact that Mani Ratnam is a cinematic genius cannot be denied. The man simply knows how to make amazing films. He keeps the beat going with Guru, as he outdoes any of his past efforts. The story may have been inspired by real life industrialist Dhirubai Ambani, but the manner in which Mani wrote the screenplay and then put it on screen was beautifully done. You watch the film and you see Guru, not Dhirubai Ambani. That is only because Mani has truly put his stamp on this film. He also brings out flawless chemistry from his lead pair, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. They have never looked this good together on screen. Watching this film, you actually realize that they are not only a reel life couple, but a real life couple as well. The movie was a showcase of the brilliance of Mani Ratnam. One must tip his cap to Mani for simply an astounding effort in Guru.

From a cinematic genius, we move to a musical genius, as A.R. Rahman also proves why he is the best music director in Bollywood once again. The tunes he composes for Guru are music to ones ears. Every track is wonderful, but high marks go to Barso Re and Tere Bina. They are phenomenal tracks. Barso Re is picturized beautifully on Aishwarya. Tere Bina truly shows the lively chemistry of Abhishek and Aishwarya. Maiya Maiya is a hot and sizzling track, especially because it was picturized on Mallika Sherawat. Gurubhai, which was added later on in the soundtrack, is a very strong track as well and fits in wonderfully in the film. Rahman’s background music is fantastic. The other tracks in the film are great as well, but they do not have as much of an impact as the other mentioned tracks. Guru the film is obviously awesome, but its music is equally as good. Hats off to A.R. Rahman, as well, as he keeps on showing us how much of a maestro he truly is.

Abhishek Bachchan’s career best performance was in Yuva, in which he was directed by Mani Ratnam. Being directed by Mani for the second time in his career, he goes leaps and bounds ahead of his previous best work. Abhishek as Guru is not only going to remain one of the best performances of this year, but one of the best of all time. There is always a particular character or role an actor is forever remembered for. In Abhishek’s case, that role will be of Guru. We all knew what he was capable of, but he totally shatters our expectations of him, and makes new ones. It may be early in the year, but it is tough to imagine anyone beating out Abhishek for the best actor award this year. There are truly no words to describe his performance. He just leaves you in awe the entire time. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, a once in a lifetime performance.

Aishwarya Rai also gives an outstanding performance. Many may still question her talents, but as the days go by, the haters are getting quieter by the minute. It is because of performances like the one she gives in Guru that people have no reason to make ridiculous remarks anymore. In a film dominated by Abhishek, she holds her own and leaves a big impact. This may be a deglam role, but she will impress nonetheless. Such is the talent of Aishwarya. This is the beginning of what looks to be a very successful year for Lady Ash.

Mithun Chakraborty can finally say he has made a comeback to Hindi cinema. After such a long time, we get to see this fine actor back in form. He plays Guru’s foil perfectly. You can tell this performance was straight from the heart. One just wishes Mithun keeps signing films like this, instead of wasting his time and talent in inconsequential roles.

Madhavan does not get much scope, but does a fine job with what he is given. His entrance to the film is rather disappointing, as it is right before the intermission and not dramatic whatsoever. The South Indian superstar is leaving his mark in Bollywood, and should be getting more notice in no time. He is a great actor whose talent justifies a place in Bollywood.

Vidya Balan is completely wasted as her role could have been done by just about anybody. After showing her acting prowess from her first film, this one is a huge disappointment in terms of her presence in the film. Not to mention, her kiss with Madhavan was very poorly done and should have just been taken out of the film. Vidya must have jumped at the opportunity of working with Mani, but she should have waited for something that fit for her talents.

The year may be far from over; as it is still the first quarter of the year, but it is pretty obvious that Guru will remain one of the best films of the year. It can easily be said that it is one of the best films of recent times. The movie will surely not be ignored during awards season, which will be around this time next year. It boasts of fantastic performances by the cast led by the magnanimous Abhishek Bachchan, the direction of a master, and music by the ultimate maestro. Guru is a rare cinematic experience. It is a film that must be experienced by one and all at least one time in their lives. If you haven’t watched Guru already, then what are you waiting for? The DVD has just released. Get it now!!!!!!

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