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Guru – a film not to my liking – a review

January 23, 2007

The movie Guru left me with an uneasy feeling. I was not even sure whether I wanted to write a review on it…one of the reasons why I am so late.

A story of Dhirubhai’s life
The movie, directed by one our best directors, Mani Ratnam, is supposedly the story of one of India’s industrialists – Dhirubhai Ambani and this role is played by Abhishek Bachhan, a rising Bollywood star today.
Certainly, there are parallels with Dhirubhai. Guru’s meteroic rise from a worker in Turkey (Dhirubhai was in the middle east) to a successful industrialist, his circumventing the system to get there, the newspaper hate campaign against him…to his stroke which left his right arm paralysed. But whether this movie is flattering to Dhirubhai or not, I am not sure.
Poor message from the director
In a court case filed against him by the government for his breaking the law in numerous instances, Guru comes out the winner. I found the unabashed way the director washed Guru’s sins by proclaiming that his misdeeds were the only way to get around the corrupt and beaurocratic system a little hard to swallow. It was a way of saying that this is the only way to succeed in India. Instead of saying, this is how Guru suceeded, he said, Guru had no choice but to do this.
Everyone knows that there are industrialists in this country like the Tatas who did not find it necessary to avoid paying customs duties, taxes and excise to do business. And come on, importing machinery under the guise of spare parts and putting up a factory! I cannot respect anyone like that. And if you don’t like the main character it is difficult to stay with the movie.
Worse, the director makes full use of his poetic license as a director to tell us that Guru made millions for his shareholders and that is why his wrongdoings should be excused! A classic tale of means justifying the end. Another silly bit of spiel the director wanted us to believe – a ruthless businessman obsessed with making money doing it for his shareholders? Mani Ratnam, you are insulting our intelligence.
The sets were amazingly good. Whether the spice market of Turkey or the textile markets of Bombay, it was all brought alive by Ratnam.
Abhishek is a believable Dhirubhai and this is one of his best performances to date. Aishwarya is alright too, very natural and comfortable in her interactions with Abhishek. Mithun Charkraborty plays the newspaper publisher who tries to expose the murky dealings of Guru with a persistent newspaper campaign quite well. As for Vidya Balan (she is a sufferer of multiple sclerosis) who plays the daughter (grand-daughter?) of the newspaper mogul and someone who Guru looks upon as his sister, I wondered why she needed to be in the film. True, she did a great job of bringing pathos into the film and made an impact…but the film could have done without her. It was clear that the director was trying to show us Guru’s soft side, but we already know he has a soft side. He is desperately in love with his wife.
Another actor who did good was Rajendra Gupta – he plays Guru’s harsh and very strict father.
Entertainment value?
So did the movie have any value at all? Well, it was slow in parts and I get bored quickly. But I liked the love part. It was a love story…and even though Guru takes a dowry to marry, he does fall in love. He and his beautiful Sujata (Aishwarya Rai) are shown to be deeply in love and their love story is moving and sweet.
Everyone is saying that this movie is not as good as the rest of Mani Ratnam’s movies…but I have not seen any of his movies except for Roja. Well, Roja was better than Guru.

(Photo sourced from Sulekha)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. tony permalink
    January 24, 2007 3:36 am

    The movie is probably not a good one. That is because it is made primarily for indian viewers. But you are giving reasons why the movie SHOULD BE WORSE. A message is NOT warrented; it there is a message then it would probably be worse than it probably is. Similarly, whether Mani was true to ambani’s life story does not bear on the artistic quality of the movie. Some of his or other great directors have been ‘fictions’. Further, the morals of the main charactor does not bear on the quality or artististry of the movie. ex. GodFather, Nayakan, ect. Some of the better movies have dealt with not just curruption by outright depravity of some charactors. This is one of the reasons the quality of Indian movies is so low. Even mexican movie make movies that are highly acclaimed all over the world. I think if you see “City of God” from Brazil, you will vomit, convulse and get sick, or worse.

    The movie is probably not as bad as it seems. I am forming this opinion because you don’t like it and the reasons you have given.

  2. January 24, 2007 5:26 am

    Hey Tony, I never said that the fact that Mani Ratnam was true to the life story of Ambani or not mattered to me! If you read read what I wrote on Mangal Pandey (my ten best movies of 2006) you will realise that I care less whether this happens. Even in this movie, whether Mani Ratnam was true to the life-story or not hardly matters! Who cares!
    Also,I did not like the movie because I did not like the character or what he stood for – not because he is a ‘villain’ but because this villain is portrayed as ‘good.’There are many many movies with proper villains as heroes who the director does not try to portray as ‘virtuous’ and I have loved those movies. ‘Don’ for example. Or Omkara. However, whether one likes the lead character or not is a matter of subjective taste…if you don’t a character you cannot enjoy a movie.
    Also if the artistic quality of a movie is good is does not necessarily mean that the movie is good. A movie is primarily for entertainment (that is again my personal view) and if a movie is boring, it’s not a good movie.
    Also, the sets being good does not make this movie artistically good. I thought the direction was very average.
    But you are right, the movie is not as bad as it seems. It’s a hit. The majority of people love it.
    Also I do not think that the quality of Indian movies in general is low. They cater to a different audience, that’s all. HAHK for example will not be enjoyed by a western audience, but it is a kind of movie which will be a hit here.
    I love Bollywood on the whole.

  3. January 24, 2007 12:02 pm

    I too didnt like the movie..

    m also going to blog abt that soon

  4. Jemsheed permalink
    January 24, 2007 3:52 pm

    Go and watch mani’s kannathil Muthamittal.Its a good work of Mani ratnam.Its My favourite of maniratnam.Guru has great Music and Cinematography.I feel guru is far far better then ugly Kabi alvidana kehna,Senseless Dhoom2,Cheap Don..

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