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 criesâ€¦ 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 Ã©lan. 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!