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Guru (Gurukanth) January 17, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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Being inspired from real-life incidents (Bombay, Kannathil Muthamittal/Amrutha) and characters (Iruvar/Iddaru, Nayagan/Nayakudu) isn’t new for writer-director Mani Ratnam. Despite what he says, his latest film is definitely inspired by the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. Though Mani makes sure that this is an inaccurate biopic, it includes characters (including the journalist played by R. Madhavan, as my Dad pointed out) and incidents reminiscent of the life of the Polyester Prince. The film spins an interesting yarn on the astonishing rise of a common man to a position of great importance, focusing on his moral dilemmas as well as the social, political and legal repercussions of his actions. This is an engaging film that is pretty good but I would think twice before calling it great. The reason it falls short of being great is that it tends to get cinematic at times when realism would have kept me much happier.

That Mani Ratnam’s screenplay and direction are superb, goes without saying. I greatly enjoyed the conflicting relationships between Guru and Nanaji and their respective families. The one issue that I had though is with the songs. The Ek Lo Ek Muft song felt unnecessary and I would have liked it if the Tere Bina song wasn’t shot as it was. The rest of the songs are used to forward the story or used in the background. Though the well-shot Barso Re number seems repetitive for Mani, Aishwarya’s bicycle accident necessitated this song and hence that can be overlooked.

Another important factor in the effect of this film is the dialogue by Vijay Krishna Acharya (who also provided the dialogue for Pyaar Ke Side Effects and wrote the screenplay along with dialogue for Dhoom and Dhoom 2). Mani Ratnam being a Tamilian with relatively low capability of understanding Hindi needed someone to accurately translate his vision into words and Vijay does a very good job (though sometimes one feels that the dialogue is a bit more dramatic than necessary). Being a period flick, the art direction (Samir Chanda) and costume design (Ameira Punvan, Sai, Nikhar Dhawan, Anu Parthasarathy, Aparna Shah) becomes very important. Mani Ratnam being the master that he is seems to have taken extra care of the detailing. The one thing that is easily visible in the film is the vehicles used for the different periods. I was quite surprised with Aishwarya’s backless blouse in the Barso Re song that seemed out of sync for that period. However, that is just my ignorance. Apparently, women in Gujarat wear such outfits due to the weather and not for sex appeal (source: IndiaFM.com).

Though the film never paints Guru as the nicest human being, some members of the audience seem to think that Mani has shown Guru’s misdemeanors lightly through the somewhat happy climax. This isn’t exactly a children’s storybook to have the most politically correct climax. I would like to ask these people if they have always taken a legally correct path in their lives (and don’t tell me that we break the law only when it seems unreasonable). Most of us have bribed someone or the other at some point in our lives and therefore furthered the rampant corruption in the country. We have committed our share of mistakes and so has Guru (or Dhiru) and as one character in the film points out these are things that we cannot be executed for (yet). The most practical (not to mention realistic) solution is punishment with a hope of reformation and that is what happens in the film. The good part though is that Guru’s tryst with swindling and smuggling does help the shareholders of his company and this is not forgotten.

Abhishek Bachchan, who plays the main protagonist, delivers a stunning performance. If Mani’s last film Yuva provided him the platform to be noticed as an actor, this performance will make sure that he will be remembered as an actor. Aishwarya Rai once again shows that she can deliver a good performance under the guidance of a capable director. Mani brings out the best in the newly engaged couple both in terms of acting and chemistry that seemed to be lacking in their earlier outings together. Apart from these two the film boasts of a splendid supporting cast. Mithun’s national awards (for Best Actor in Mrigaya, Tahader Katha and for Best Supporting actor in Swami Vivekananda) might have been forgotten by the common audience but thankfully filmmakers like Mani haven’t forgotten him and he delivers a performance that does justice to his talent. Madhavan and Vidya Balan, both capable actors, do well in supporting roles. Arya Babbar (Raj Babbar’s son who made his debut in the forgettable flick called Ab Ke Baras) makes an impression in a short role as Aishwarya’s brother.

A.R.Rahman has done some of his best work for Mani Ratnam’s films and he once again comes up with a brilliant soundtrack and background score. Gulzar’s lyrics provide the poetic imagery that makes these songs even better (though I won’t claim to have understood them completely). My favorite numbers are Jaage Hain and Shauk Hai (sung by Soumya Rao, this song is a part of the background score and is expected to be included in the new CDs of Guru alongwith the Gurubhai Aaya Che number that has become synonymous with the film) followed by Aye Hairathe and Maiyya Maiyya. Barso Re and Tere Bina are very good too.

This film is aimed primarily at the intelligentsia. There is a lot of dialogue in the film that is going over the heads of well-educated people. Mani makes no effort to explain things in detail as is the norm in Hindi cinema (and I believe that should be the way to go). Thanks to the multiplex and overseas audience, this movie might do well but its prospects in the interiors are bleak. Those looking for mindless entertainment could watch Dhoom 2 again while the others should try and catch this one.

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Comments»

1. जगदीश भाटिया - January 18, 2007

Good written!
बहुत अच्छा लिखा।
यहां भी देखें
http://aaina2.wordpress.com/2007/01/13/guru-2/

2. Jagan - February 6, 2007

good review

Jagan

3. Krishna - March 10, 2007

Worst film made by mani ratnam. Movie is boring and hopeless from the first scene to the last

4. Subhash - March 16, 2007

Can anyone gimme a link to shauk hai? i can’t find the free download anywhere!!

5. Niharika - March 23, 2007

same here!! plzz post a link to tht song SHAUK HAI..i love that song and i cant find it anywhere..

6. Vihari - March 23, 2007

I found one version of Shauq Hai for download here:
“http://www.dadesiforum.com/index.php?showtopic=95914”

7. Shujath - March 24, 2007

If I would have been ignorant of the fact that this was a Mani Ratnam film, I probably would have rated it much higher than what I consider it now. However, if I were to rate it along with Mani’s other films it would be the last in my list (which doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad).

Though the movie is quite interesting, it unfortunately indulges in quite a few cinematic liberties which are hard not to ignore. And yet again, Mani’s discomfort with the medium (Hindi) shows up prominently.

The performances are great especially Abhishek Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborthy. In some of the scenes where Abhishek plays an aged man he seemed to be doing that “Vijay Dinanath Chauhan” bit which Amitabh did in Agneepath….I found that somewhat funny.

Guru is a good film on the whole but it is bound to disappoint Mani Ratnam fans nevertheless.

8. Sonal - April 18, 2007

Can someone please email me the lyrics of “Shauq Hai” from GURU? My email is sps32@drexel.edu

9. Sai - April 19, 2007

Here are the lyrics:

Raat Ka Shauq Hai,
Raat Ki Saundhi Si,
Khamoshi Ka Shauq Hai.. Shauq Hai.. Shauq Hai.

Subah Ki Roshni,
Bezubaan Subah Ki Gungunaati,
Roshni Ka Shauq Hai.. Shauq Hai.. Shauq Hai

Sansani Navalon Ka,
Ishq Ki Bavalon Ka,
Sansani Navalon.. Ishq Ki Bavalon..
Barf Se.. Khelte..
Badalon Ka Shauq Hai.

10. neha - May 25, 2007

this is a beautiful, touching song – i wanna listen to this – but not available!!

11. Vallabh - May 26, 2007

Guru is a good movie for the first 2 hours and 15 minutes. Abhishek Bachchan delivered his best. A. R. Rahman gave a good soundtrack. Though the background was good for most part of the movie I felt it inappropriate in a couple of scenes. However, it is the climax courtroom scene that disappointed the most. I would be happier if Mani Ratnam somehow avoided Guru’s dialogues in the court and came up with any other sensible alternative climax.

For a few moments after stepping out of theater, I couldn’t believe what Mani Ratnam had tried to do in climax courtroom scene. I couldn’t believe he made such a blatant effort to convince audience that the character “Guru” is a great character and I couldn’t believe his effort to project Guru as a role model to everyone who craves for progress of the nation. The meaningless and inappropriate dialogues of climax scene stand proof for such effort. Not even one dialogue of courtroom scene appealed to me (please see my comments on climax scene dialogues in the next comment). Anyway, the director’s stand on that issue couldn’t have produced better dialogues. I expected that everyone would recognize director’s foolishness to spoil the entire experience of audience with such dialogues in the climax. But to my surprise, most of the audience liked it.

With the beginning of the courtroom scene, my appreciation for the movie started to fade off. My disappointment has grown even worse when I understood that many people took Guru’s side while watching the courtroom scene. I guess that’s what Mani Ratnam wanted and he had succeeded in achieving it. After the verdict was declared in court, some members of the audience felt that Guru was correct in whatever he did and some others felt that Guru might not be correct but he had to do what he did and it’s ok now because the court had imposed fine for his deeds. All these people took Guru’s side. I guess none of them have given a thought to the indirect but evident effect of Guru’s illegal activities on the entire nation. I would like to know whose side would this section of people take if a bank were robbed by a group of burglars using ultra modern devices, leaving no trace of evidence. Would they take the side of the burglars for being so skillful and successful or would they feel sorry for the depositors and take their side? I think this is a good analogy for Guru’s case. Guru aided for the deterioration of the nation in many ways and indirectly caused loss to everyone in the nation. It’s just not correct to take his side.

It is clearly shown in the movie that Guru kicks his competitors out of business either directly or indirectly. He raises the bribes to a level that no one else could reach. Also, if not made obvious, he sells his products for a price no one else could sell for. If we give a slightest thought to the effect of a few deeds of Guru on the nation (along with numerous illegal activities shown in the movie), anyone can say that his activities need to be checked. It is true that every one of us has taken an illegal path at some point in our life. But the deeds of Guru were in no way comparable to ours. His activities had a capacity of driving the fate of already ill and suffering nation into an even worse state. It is common sense to see that if Guru’s illegal activities were comparable to ours, why would court need to bother about him at all. Also, it doesn’t make something right just because everyone does it. Everyone who commits a mistake should look forward to pay for it at sometime in his life.

It is Guru’s senseless speech in the court that irritated me the most. It was good to watch a movie about an ambitious person achieve his dream by all possible means either legal or illegal and it felt correct when he was punished for the deeds he was proved guilty of. But it just didn’t feel correct when Guru delivers a speech as if he was interested in the progress of the nation and as if the entire nation was with him in his march to make the nation #1 in the world. It was clearly shown that Guru was not interested in the progress of the nation but in his own. He gets married for the sake of money; he talked people into his business for the sake of money that helps him expand business and thus to become #1 businessman. And all the way in his path to success, he aided to increase corruption in the nation. Where in his path from a working child to a paralyzed man did he care about the nation? A movie doesn’t need to have a politically correct ending as in children’s storybooks (actually, I thought children’s story books rather have a happy ending if not politically correct) but the ending at least needs to make some sense. Does it make any sense when Guru says, “Nation is progressing along with me…”?

Climax of this movie was very poorly written. Any other sensible alternative climax would have made me happy. It is obvious that Mani Ratnam wanted to give a happy ending for the sake of selling his movie to Indian crowds. But he should have realized that he couldn’t make a bad issue look good just with a few peppy dialogues. If someone says that the dialogues were typical to Guru’s character and that was expected in the climax, I say, I would never like to watch a movie that has got self contradictory and senseless dialogues delivered by the lead role.

12. Vallabh - May 26, 2007

Guru

Here are my comments on the courtroom scene dialogues near the end of the movie that may help you understand my frustration in the earlier post. The climax scene of Guru is an absolute crap ever delivered by Mani Ratnam. He evidently made a mockery of himself and every dialogue of the climax courtroom scene stands proof for this.

It all started with the dialogue when Guru quotes an analogy between his breaking the law (made in favor of the influential people and politicians of the nation) to become #1 businessman of the nation and Gandhi’s breaking the law (slavery, made by British who were exploiting the weakness of Indians) for the freedom of the country. It is true that even in Guru’s case, politicians were exploiting the weakness of Indians to get wealthy. But the irony of Guru’s analogy is that when Gandhi was breaking the law to stop British from looting our nation, Guru broke the law by taking corruption to the highest level ever possible and helped politicians loot the nation even further. While Gandhi’s concern was about the freedom of each and every citizen of India, Guru’s concern was to use enough number of people in the name of shareholders to help him bribe politicians and others who would help him achieve his goal (to become #1 businessman of nation). In his dialogue, quoting Gandhi, Guru says, “In his time, slavery was the law. He wrote a new law… our freedom”. I wonder what kind of a new law did Guru write? Was it about the corruption levels reaching newer heights or about playing monopoly in the business by closing doors for everyone else?

One of the most illogical part of the climax is when Guru says, “I wanted to do business.
But the doors to business were opened only for the rich. Doors made by the government, opened either to a bribe or a kick. I did both. Where I had to kick, I kicked. Where you wanted me to salute, I saluted”. Now, it is obvious that Guru helped the government to make the closed doors even stronger. He even kicked everyone out of the doors by giving higher bribes to the authorities. So he not only closed doors (stronger than earlier) for a common man but also kicked others out of business. Ironically, a later dialogue of Guru goes like this. “The doors you want to keep closed are opening up. We have our feet through the doors…. and our feet are very strong”. Doesn’t it just sound non-sense? For the sake of argument, let’s say Guru went inside the doors and opened them for everyone. What in the holy world makes anyone think so? Did he reduce corruption? Did he make it easier for a common man to do business? He made it all worse.

I am quoting a couple of fancy dialogues, which were very inappropriate. Guru says, “I roamed around carrying cans as a petrol pump assistant just like our country goes to the World Bank begging “Give us money – we want to make roads””

I agree with these statements. This has been our destiny for many decades due to the fungus like corruption spread all over the nation. The next few lines of Guru go like this.

Why can’t we change our destiny? Ours and our country’s? You want me to deliver petrol cans and our country to beg, forever. Why can’t we reach the top? Why are we called the third world? We have as much right to be a first world country and we can be!”

This is the most stupid dialogue I have ever heard in a Mani Ratnam’s movie. I am sorry to say this but it really sounded like a serial rapist lecturing about the richness and value of womanhood.

The only dialogue, which is enjoyable, in the entire courtroom scene is when Guru says, “You gave me five minutes. I’ve finished in four and a half minutes…. 30 seconds profit. That’s business.” I agree that he was an able businessman. But it doesn’t mean he was helping the progress of the nation. In fact he was aiding for the deterioration of nation.

And when he says “You’ve made allegations against me; excise, custom, income tax, this tax, that tax. When I started business…. I didn’t even know the meaning of these words”, does he expect the court to praise him for his success (if that’s the word for it) which was achieved by numerous scams and illegal means? These dialogues were cleverly written just to make audience take Guru’s side. It is never correct to steal just because you are poor or because you don’t know how to work or because you are not offered work.

Here comes one of the major misleading dialogues. “I fell many times before I learnt. To save money, I walked 20kms. I know the value of money. If there was money to be made, I made it not just for myself but for my 30-lakh shareholders as well.” Mani Ratnam uses the phrase “just not for myself” and makes it a minor issue and projects that Guru had made money for his 30-lakh shareholders. Guru’s goal was just to become a great businessman but not to help people of his nation. He gets married just for the sake of money needed to start business. When he wanted to expand his business, he looked for people who could fund him. To keep these funds flowing, any good businessman would share a percentage of profit with shareholders without whom his business would not survive. My point is that Guru neither ever cared about the progress of nation nor his deeds ever helped the progress of nation. It is true that 0.33% of Indians (30 lakh share holders of, say, around 90crore Indians) were profited in a way, but anyone who can give a slight thought can see that the increase of corruption and kicking out other businessmen (who in turn have their own shareholders) from doing business would add to the loss of every Indian including the Guru’s 30lakh shareholders. So, the only ones who were actually profited in this process are Guru and those who accepted bribes from him. I still don’t understand what Mani Ratnam was trying to explain with all those self-contradictory dialogues of Guru.

I have a few more inappropriate dialogues copied here.
“I don’t know how to play golf and I don’t go to horse races but I’m a solid player in my business. I know how to make the best quality polyester, fiber, chemicals at the cheapest price. Is that my mistake? Should I apologize?” Court wanted Guru to accept charges for all the illegal means he took but not for selling goods at cheapest price.

Here comes another funny dialogue from Guru. “I’ve lost a lot reaching here. I lost this hand. Damn thing hangs uselessly! I don’t know what else I will lose… my voice, my mind….” What the hell… does that make any dialogue at all? Guru was a guy who had just enough to feed himself when he started business. Since then he got richer and richer. If he had lost his family members or wealth because of the laws imposed on his business by government, he could have said something. But he had lost nothing at all. Is this dialogue again written to make audience feel sorry for Guru?

Next dialogues follow like this. “but there is one thing you can never snatch from me. My courage. I won’t lose that. Because… my courage is a common man’s courage. This country’s courage. All of you want to stop me, don’t you? I’m not alone. The whole country is moving ahead with me and neither you nor your laws have the strength to stop the country. Which enquiry can check the progress of this country and stop it? Tell me! If you want to punish me for that as well go ahead. Gurukant Desai, is not scared of punishment” As I said there was neither progress because of him nor he ever cared about a common man. I will leave the rest for you to analyze.

At the end of Guru’s stream of meaningless dialogues comes the most funny and inappropriate dialogue from the judge when he says, “Well, he’s said a lot. Whatever it is, we can’t hang him. Can we?” What in the holy world made the judge think of hanging Guru? I don’t think there were any allegations that said Guru was guilty of a murder! These dialogues show Maniratnam’s effort to convince people that Guru is a good character and what Guru did was reasonable as even the judge felt so.

Climax of Guru is the worst piece of all Mani Ratnam movies that I have ever seen. I anticipated the climax sequence to be in those lines but still it stuck me hard as the dialogues were worse than I expected.

13. Shujath - May 30, 2007

Vallabh….You seem to have spent more time on the climax than even Mani Ratnam himself 🙂 The underlying problem here has more to do with the reluctance of our audience to accept characters with grey shades. I am pretty sure this movie would have bombed if Guru was indicted and slapped with a hefty fine towards the end – that wouldn’t mean he was outrightly evil…just the price he has to pay for his financial misdemeanours; he still would have had the fruits of his hard earned labour.

I too was actually surprised that someone like Mani Ratnam opted for such a populist climax. “Guru” isn’t a patch on his earlier works – in Hindi or otherwise but surprisingly this is his only hit (in Hindi).

Nevertheless, I still would not agree with your portrayal of Guru as someone who brought disaster to the nation. Adam Smith – the father of Economics said that a nation becomes prosperous not because of the benevolence of the traders but because each of them works for their own self-interest and unknowingly they aid in overall prosperity. That is basic human nature and one has to accept that.

In any case, there was too much of rationalizing by Guru in the climax which indeed put me off a bit. I only hope Mani returns back to his old style of filmmaking in his future ventures.

14. Sai - May 30, 2007

Vallabh,
Agreed that the Guru isn’t the nicest guy but the fault isn’t always on one side. Guru was at fault. The system was at fault too. I can understand your frustration because Guru is definitely the bigger villain. But the climax is a reflection of what would have happened in real life. You hardly see people like that getting punished. In that sense, it is a sensible climax.
The dialogue is another issue though. This is a decidedly commercial attempt by Mani (though it isn’t aimed at the frontbenchers) and the dialogue reflects this throughout the movie (the dismal performance of Iruvar might have pushed him to this). I am sure there are more people out there who were disappointed by the dialogue.
Whether you like the dialogue/climax or not, I think Guru still makes a good watch. And as all of us seem to agree, this film shouldn’t be called great.

15. Vallabh - May 31, 2007

Sujath,
Yes, this movie would have failed if Guru was slapped with hefty fine. In fact, in my comment, I said that I was happy with the first 2hrs 15mins part and also with the verdict. The only part that bothered me was the courtroom scene in the climax. If I were to come up with a sensible alternative climax, I guess the death of Guru, due to reasons not at all related to the politics shown in the movie, before the verdict comes out would have done the job. And of course, the courtroom dialogues should be removed. I recall the sentiment of a section of Indian audience who turns down a movie if a lead character dies. But still this climax would have been a better choice and would have left most of the audience satisfied.

I don’t know who Adam Smith is but it seems he hadn’t been to India ever 🙂 . I agree with his statement only in part. Here is my perspective on this issue. For the prosperity of a nation, along with individual businessmen who work for their self-interest (but not for the benevolence of the traders), there is a need of a governing body that states the norms and maintains a firm control on all these individuals’ businesses. But in India, it works the other way. Individuals have control on the governing body. We can’t expect much progress in the later case. Also, in fact, Indians are more interested in their self than Americans. But the reason for the success of America and failure of India lies in the failure of the later’s governing body. Guru was just a person born in the wrong place at a wrong time. Anyway, I never meant Guru brought disaster to the nation. I meant, given the situation of the nation in his times, Guru added more hardship for the already suffering nation. I hope you have a reason to agree with me now.

Sai,
It’s true that the fault is on the other side too. My frustration isn’t because Guru is bigger villain but because Mani Ratnam projected Guru as a nice guy and a role model in the courtroom scene (please see my comments on climax scene dialogues in the previous comment 🙂 ) and I don’t agree with that. I have nothing to talk about the other side (those accepting bribes) as they were already shown as bad guys throughout the movie and I agree with that. By saying “climax”, if you meant “the verdict”, I am happy with the verdict. But, if you meant the entire courtroom scene, how can anyone not let the 30minutes self-contradictory dialogues bother him/her? It is a vital part of movie and it should be definitely considered when rating the movie. Also, if there is a real life character that’s a copy of Guru’s until just before the courtroom scene and if he’s let free (without interference of Mani Ratnam) to speak in the court, I guess he would talk about the reasons that lead him take those illegal steps and would demand punishment for all those involved before punishing him but he would never say that the nation was moving forward with him. Mani Ratnam’s dialogues just don’t fit to the character of Guru that’s built until then through the movie. There is no reason for anyone to like the courtroom scene. If anyone likes those Guru’s dialogues in climax, with similar kind of reasoning they should be able to like every flop movie ever made. But they won’t as those other directors aren’t as skillful as Mani. Everything that happens in real life isn’t worth making a movie. Who will like to watch a burglar reasoning his theft with pointless statements on a silver screen? It’s just not worth making a movie about it.

To think of another climax, if Guru finds a way to fool the court and gets out without being punished (as might happen in real life), that will make a good movie too (at-least for me). There are many successful movies with such theme, at-least in the foreign industry. But it might have failed with Indian crowd.

There are many good things in this movie that I haven’t talked about as you guys already did in great detail. Of course, this movie is definitely worth watching. But I request all viewers to realize that Mani Ratnam has tried his best to fool you in the climax and don’t be fooled. Do realize and comment his foolish effort. That’s what I have been doing. Don’t be satisfied with it the way he wanted you to be.

16. vallabh - June 1, 2007

Hi Shujath, sorry for spelling your name wrong in the other comment.

17. mayank - March 11, 2008

here’s the song…

neha wanted the song… im sure others too would like it….

i have mp3 version too…

trendsup.com_hakuna@yahoo.com

18. Talha - March 16, 2008

yaar roshni ka shauk hai ka mp3 version koi bahaig sakta hai kya plz i could not find that any were

my id is tarz_saken@hotmail.com

19. Rony Ahuja - October 6, 2008

Dhurubhai ambani is like a messiah who still continues to be an admiration for all Indians. I believe that he was a superpower himself and with his ambition and passionatism he gave both India and Indians a whole new meaning. His success stories still reigns to continue!!

Regards
Rony Ahuja
pic27.blogspot.com

20. sheetal - August 21, 2009

Can any body tell me one of the dialogue where the character guru says: agar virodh badh rahan toh samajh ley aap tarakki kar rahe hai?? i dont remember the exact words now..plz..if nybody knows it exactly??

21. mental fitness - July 27, 2013

Hi there, yeah this post is truly nice and I have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.
thanks.


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