Guru: Villager, Visionary…improbable Winner!
Imagine you are narrating a story to a small kid. It’s nothing new but the same old hair-raising brawl between a mighty lion and a poor goat. You would obviously try to portray both the animals in such a manner that would appeal to the kid and at the same time, underline the morale of the story. Now suppose in an attempt to strike balance between three important elements namely facts, charm and the morale, you tweak the characters as per your convenience; what would the small kid perceive? It will neither be able to get the point nor be able to enjoy the story. Unfortunately, Guru traverses the same path and comes forward as yet another screenplay goof-up after Dil Se and Yuva by Mani Ratnam. It’s evident that the film is based on the life of the business tycoon Dheerubhai Ambani but in an attempt to present a right mixture of facts and charm, the writer loses grip on the characters and thereafter, on the screenplay.
Guru is a story of an overly ambitious lad Gurukant Desai who hails from a small village called Idhar in Gujarat. Fed up with the studies, school and sermons of his father, Guru leaves his village and goes to Istanbul in search of a better life. After amassing sufficient money there, he comes back to India to start his own business. Meanwhile, for the want of initial capital to start the business, he gets married with a wealthy seth’s daughter. They come to Mumbai; start their business and then reach the helm. Guru is a story about the grit and gumption of a villager who dares to dream big and leaves no stone unturned in order to realize his dreams.
First pluses –
On the acting front, Abhishek has given stunning performance. This is probably the best role he has got so far and he doesn’t let the opportunity go off his hands. Mithun is superb in the newspaper owner’s role. The subtle difference between the two is Abhishek plays the character and Mithun becomes the character. Experience matters. All the time you feel that Abhishek is trying to hold the bearing whereas Mithun forces the audience to forget that his character is being played by an actor called Mithun Chakraborty. Aishwarya, Vidya Balan and Madhavn are alright.
The conflict scenes have written very well.
Cinematography is excellent. Rajiv Menon has succeeded in capturing the essence of what director had thought of for each frame.
Art direction is extraordinary. The art director has successfully created the onscreen feel of the 50s. The costumes, sets and overall look and feel of the film look genuine.
The negatives –
Screenplay is weak. The audience might feel that the real film starts from where the first half ends. The writer should have concentrated on a very few things while writing the screenplay rather than giving it a biographical look. The screenplay, instead of focusing on the essentials, summarizes the life of the great dreamer. At the end, it feels like a textbook answer divided into several points such as childhood, first job, marriage, first business venture, public issue, expansion, enquiry and clean chit. The writer could have avoided the bookish treatment meted out to the screenplay. The confusion in portraying the protagonist clearly shows in the screenplay. The writer was probably confused while developing his character. He wanted to show him as a great visionary but at the same time, he wanted to touch upon the unruly ways the hero adopts to prosper in his business. He wanted to show the combative spirit of the hero and at the same time, he wanted to show the facts. The climax is abrupt and does not leave any impact on the audience’s minds. The speech that Guru delivers before the enquiry commission is bland and the writer fumbles for the crisp ideas to make it more convincing and hard-hitting. The lame excuses that he breaks the rules for the progress of the country and he dupes the government to make them take note of their wrong policies do not appeal. The climax fails to be the real dramatic climax. Vidya Balan’s character seems to be redundant and looks to be included only to highlight the humane side of Guru. Guru agrees to marry Aishwarya keeping the dowry in his mind, he dumps all his goods in the IAS officer’s house, the officer visits his place in the heavy rains to request him to take the goods out of his house and he behaves in real rude manner with all whom he meets are few things that look superfluous and illogical. The interruptions in between the gripping conflict scenes could have been avoided.
The conflict scenes should have been more in number.
Dialogues are ineffective.
Music is okay and songs keep pouring in at wrong places and wrong times which hampers the flow.
All in all, Guru doesn’t live up to the expectations it had sowed into the minds of tens of millions of the viewers before its release. The hype, big star cast, massive promotion and director’s name would ensure the bumper opening for the film but it would be hard to sustain the initial furor in the successive weeks. Multiplex owners might laugh all the way to banks but single screen theatres and distributors may incur losses.
Banner – Madras Talkies
Cast – Mithun Chakraborty, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhavan, Vidya Balan, Manoj Joshi, Sudheer Pande, Roshan Seth, Mallika Sherawat, Rajendra Gupta
Director – Mani Ratnam
Music – A R Rehman
Lyrics – Gulzaar
Cinematography – Rajiv Menon