Thursday, January 18, 2007

GURU (2007)

Actors: Abhishek Bachan, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun Chakravorthy, Madhavan
Director: Mani Ratnam

Three years of sabbatical after the well acclaimed Yuva, and director Mani Ratnam is back, packing a punch with a resounding GURU. He is one amongst the hallowed breed of Indian directors, who pick subjects that are contemporary and have socio-economic relevance. Be it ROJA, BOMBAY or YUVA. After I saw BOMBAY, I swore allegiance to this Tamilian director, who is also an MBA from Jamnalalbajaj. Sadly in India meaningful movies (parallel cinema) don’t find takers and a director is left with no choice but to tread a path between commercial and art. No director can survive only with winning awards if the movies themselves are not financially viable. And Mani Ratnam has deftly crafted that magic to perfect that balance. His team is usually a healthy condiment of industry stalwarts. The likes of AR Rahman, Gulzar, a couple of brand actors and with his ingenuity make a great recipe that would attract all kinds of audience.

The movie is set during India’s pre liberalization/ reform era when government policies were anti capitalistic and pro agrarian. Policies that were driven by socialist/communist ideologies (personified by Mithun –Madhavan duo) who abhorred an economic system, where means of production is mostly private and operates solely on profit. The story is about a young ambitious man Guru Kant Desai (Abhishek Bachan) who sets out dreaming big of building a textile empire of his own but finds himself enveloped in a labyrinth of red tape that handicaps his dreams. Nevertheless, he wiggles his way through, flouting every rule in the book. He goes on to create the largest textile and petrochemical company in India, thus churning out wealth which concomitantly betters the lives of millions of middle class shareholders of the company. The only low point in the end when Guru Kant latches on to moral high ground validating his machinations against the system and implores the government to device laws that encourage entrepreneurship that can betters lives of middle class.

[Indian policies in the last decade have gone through a sea change and today the change is palpable. Govt that embraced laissez faire, eased regulations on foreign participation, provides sops and tax rebates to operate in SEZs……………….Err,,,sorry to have digressed from the movie review, but this is the social economic relevance for the movie.]


A well narrated story that is purported to potray Dhirubhai Ambani’s life and quite a few parallels can be actually drawn . The cinematography is splendid especially in the song “Barso re megha” that is shot in exotic locales. (I wonder where is it?. I am sure its in India) The director would have taken excruciating pain in maintaining authenticity of the 1960 era with costumes and matching backdrop. Yuva might not be the director’s magnum opus, but it is all set to call its shots for awards this year.


A career defining role for Abhishek who after showing promise in Yuva, has catapulted himself to the higher echelons of the selected few actors. He must owe his life to Mani Ratnam. A role, which he dons with aplomb that graduates from a dreamy young man to a old scheming paralytic textile baron.

I am not an ardent fan of Aishwarya but under the auspice of directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mani Ratnam, her performances are stellar. She plays the wife of Guru Kant.

Mithun is at his versatile best. Playing a zealot newspaper publisher, his sole aim is to bring the textile magnate’s “dirty work” to public view.

Madhavan is a let down. He works as a sidekick to Mithun’s newspaper.

AR Rehman is GOD. Listen to “Aiye Hairathe” and feel your spirit soar. The rendition of “dambara dambara jasna jasna” that starts the song can put you into trance. Copulated with the lyrics of Gulzar, the music is an experience.

Highpoints of the movie:

* Sizzling chemistry between Aish and Abhishek.(Their offscreen romance did pay its dividends to the movie)

*Cinematography and choreography of the song “Barso re megha”

*The powerhouse Roshan Seth’s cameo.(He had played Jawahar lal Nehru in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi)

PS: Please provide your critical feedback to my attempt. J


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