Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Bijness Guru.

The movie Guru is running houseful but somehow I managed to get three tickets only for late night 10:00 PM show on 22nd Jan’07. The hype and hoopla in newspaper and blogs triggered my curiosity to go for this movie, rather than my personal interest. The same day some violence had broken out in a locality in Bangalore and because of this the roads were practically deserted when we drove to the cinema hall.

Every Maniratnam movie is anticipated with high expectations as he is one among the Indian movie makers who uses the the right canvas and a well researched story line. But to me this movie was nothing special. Somehow it lacked conviction and failed to impress me. Since I have not seen much of Abhishek Bachchan’s movie so this performance touted as his best so far was beyond my acceptance. Well I overheard, someone during the break in the rest room saying that "Abhishek ish performance ke baad, Bachchan naam ke bena teek sakta hai". [ Abhishek can survive in this industry without the Bachchan tag. ]

Now, the movie. Guru is about Gurukant Desai alias Gurubhai [Abhishek], an ambitious man. He is the kind of man who would plan to conquer the world, given enough time and resources. Born in a middle-class family in rural Gujarat, and since not among the brightest in the class, he discontinues his education to go to Turkey where he works for Shell. Then suddenly dumping an offer in a foreign land, he comes back home where he wants to start something on his own. He marries his friend's sister Sujata[Ash]so that the dowry which he would get would be used as capital to fuel his initiative. Soon he moves to Mumbai, the land of bijness and dreams where he reaches pinnacles of materialism and attains superlative growth. In his race to power, he steadily misleads his shareholders and slips away from the rules, the ethics and the morals.


His friend of previous generation and a well-wisher, Manikdas Gupta[Mithun Da] finds Guru's means of acquiring power and money abominable. Being the editor of a newspaper, he hires a young journalist - Shyam Saxena[Madhavan], to expose Guru. This results in a clash that reflects on the emotional proximity of the two families and then the story just moves on.

"Don't be a dreamer" warns the ambitious Gurubhai is how the movie starts and the first half is fast and the second half appears like intentionally stretched. The reason I say fast is because of the the placement and the picturization of songs. In the first 10 minutes we have luscious Mallika Sherawat belly dancing on "Mayya Mayya" shortly followed by "Barso Re" .

For a director of Maniratnam's stature, can he not do away with item numbers which feature beautiful female forms in meagre clothes. Is that really necessary when you have a strong storyline?

The song "Barso Re" is extremely tasteful with visual meanings. Sujata is introduced to the audience,soaked in rain and enjoying nature to a peppy tune. If you notice with concentration, the director missed it here, as Gujarat that is shown appears more like a fake designer village with a more South Indian touch.

Abhishek’s body language spoke far more than his dialogues and reaches a high when he is about to deliver his monologue before the enquiry commission. The Commission Head says, "But till yesterday you were silent,your voice was nothing more than a whisper". Guru smiles and replies back, "We are banias (merchants). We plan for everything, I was saving my voice for this occasion . He concludes saying that he was given 5 minutes to present himself before the enquiry committee but he wrapped it up in 4.5 minutes,thus saving 30 seconds, that’s profit and bijness".

The monologue justifying Guru's actions was a let down. There was no connection between his breaking of the law and Gandhi’s fight against colonialism,it was something like a regular rhetoric one hears from politicians everyday.

The romantic subplot between Shyam [Madhavan] and Meenu [Vidya Balan] has no roots and these two characters are inadequately developed. Did we need a close-up lip-lock scene between them? [But compared to what we see in Hindi movies ,this moment was aesthetically shot]. On a lighter note, it seems like Mani, took the chord from where Sanju baba had left in the day dreaming kissing car song in Lage Raho Munna Bhai and made sure that Meenu [Vidya Balan] got her kiss in this movie. It seems like another one of those forcibly inserted scenes, just to pull in the first rows for repeated viewing. Also Mani please be prepared, incase you have junta like Shailendra Dwivedi who feel that a kissing scene on-screen is nothing but vulgarity .To me, it seems that Shyam and Meenu were there to look at Guru with different eyes, and give us a sense of the shades of grey. Beyond this I could not think of anything else.


Mani’s attention to period details such as safari suits, aviator eyeglass frames and even the Bombay Baroda and Central India train line is worth appreciation. Mani shows us Gurubhai’s increasing wealth not with the usual massive, marble-floored home but rather through the Merc that the Desais drive, Sujata dressed in shades of plum, saffron and maroon cotton saris, jewelry, etc.

Ash’s performance was OK and her real life chemistry with Abhi was vibrant on screen too. Ash proved that she could also pull through a powerful role apart from her positive traits such as dancing and so-called-angelic looks. But I feel if the roles of Vidya Balan and Ash were swapped then it would have been much better, Balan’s performance in Parineeta can be benchmarked for my decision.


Mithun Da was in form after a long, long time. And it's a pleasure to see the veteran deliver a natural performance from start to end.


A.R Rahman, the musical genius comes out with sedate "rags to riches" concept with the virtuoso of biopic touch. It has its shares of tuneful splendor but is restricted to honey coated melodies. Gulzar's meticulously relevant lyrics are inspiring. My favourite picks from the list are "Ay Hairathe" rendered delicately by Hariharan and Alka Yagnik and "Barso Re" for the broken sound effects interlaced by a synthesized eastern amalgamation, flawlessly sung by Shreya Ghoshal with a nicely felt repetitive line 'na na na re'.

Some comments from IMDB here .
I do not differentiate between Mani Ratnam and Karan Johar if what they do at the end of the day - is the same old time tested 'safe bet' 'multi star' formula. Good cinema is dying in the hands of stars and entertainment value.

The end however is abrupt and leaves one a bit confused regarding the actual message of the film , as it is shown that despite doing corruption in order to flourish in his bijness Gurubhai is let off by the court as only 2 of the 29 charges against him are proven.It makes one wonder if the film is justifying the use of corrupt practices in order to flourish and make one’s dreams come true. Infact that’s true in a way, even the bellwethers in business bend the laws in their own interest.

I feel if only Maniratnam had decided to make a real bio pic instead of a hagiography, this would have been better. I would give it a 5/10 and its just watchable.

[ Note : Gurubhai rhymes with Dhirubhai, right? If you can correct me, was Sujata = Kokilaben , Manik Das Gupta = Ramnath Goenka , Arzaan Contractor = Nusli Wadia , Shyam Saxena = Arun Shourie . This was a figment of my imagination as in the intro of the movie it was mentioned that, all the characters are fictious and any resemblance living or dead is co-incidental. Hehehehe, this was a nugget of information to those who have followed the brief history and rise of Ambani business !!!! Crack this, Why do you think that there is always intense war between these two business houses: Reliance and Bombay Dyeing ? ]

This was Guru but have you seen The Guru .

Keep reading and remain connected. [ Pics are from and ]

[These are my views on the movie, my interpretation may vary with someone else’s , so don’t make a decision whether to watch this movie or not based on my views. I have absolutely no prejudices against Hindi movies nor is my grasp of the Hindi language very minimal, just that I am not a regular Hindi film fanatic.]


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