After three days it was released – and wherein it was sold out on all those days – I got to see this much-awaited movie from acclaimed director Mani Rathnam. Hailed as one of the best directors of the country, Mani Rathnam has given us some masterpieces (Nayakan, Roja, Bombay) and even some duds (Iruvar, Yuva). Though his last movie – Yuva – was a well-made one, it failed to capture the imagination of the audience and ended up as a losing proposition. His latest offering – Guru – is a period film which is a semi-biopic but hastily states that it bears no resemblance to any character, living or dead! And while it is arguable, the film itself is a very good one.
My Rating: 3.5*
Story: Guru tells the story of one individual – Gurukant Desai(Abhishek Bachchan) – who dared to dream big. He chases success and manages to get it, even with questionable means. A person who never takes no for an answer, Gurukant Desai rises from a smalltown laborer into the leader of a national corporation with interests in Polyester and Petrochemicals. Gurukant starts off as a small-time laborer with Shell in Turkey and rapidly rises amongst the rungs to become the sales manager. But he chooses to do business in his homeland instead of servitude under a foreigner and returns to India. He marries Sujatha (Aishwarya Rai), whom he encounters on a train while she’s escaping after being jilted by her lover and though there’s money involved, he really cares for her. Guru – alongwith his brother-in-law (Arya Babbar) leaves for Mumbai where he discovers that the doors for business are closed for the Middle-class people and the reins are controlled by a handful of rich. He manages to break these shackles with the help of a newspaper editor – Nanaji (Mithun Chakraborty)- who becomes Guru’s mentor and almost like a father-figure to him. Guru rapidly builds brick-upon-brick of his business empire, often resorting to underhand and dubious means. When Nanaji comes to know of it, he chooses to unearth the truth and alongwith a young reporter Shyam (Madhavan), works towards exposing Guru’s various nefarious activities. Guru meets these setbacks and challenges head-on and stands up tall and valiant even though his factories are closed and suffers a paralytic stroke. The movie culminates with Guru reasoning his acts and ambitions in front of a Probe commission (chaired by Roshan Seth) and answering his critics in the fittest manner possible.
Portrayal: Though the story is brilliant, the execution could have been better . Especially coming from an ace director such as Mani Rathnam, the story could have been molded in a tighter and more prosaic manner. There are several loopholes in the story and though none of them is a hindrance to the flow of the movie, they sure leave the viewer with lingering questions. For instance, the rift between Guru and his Brother-in-law is not fully developed and is left unaccounted for. The timeline of the story also leaves a bit to be desired as Guru is shown to be an aged man and again as a younger individual when his daughters are born. Some characters are introduced/eliminated haphazardly thus diluting the pace. Nanaji’s character remains absent throughout the Climax and so do the other aides of Guru. Such anomalies aside, Guru is a brilliant work of art and just short of a masterpiece.
Performance: Performance-wise, this could well be Abhishek Bachchan’s best performance till-date. Though he reminds of Big B in some scenes (Especially in the climax wherein the courtroom drama reminded me of Shahenshah!), he carries off the role with such elan and charisma that it is difficult to imagine anyone else in that role. Aishwarya Rai does just enough as required of her and doesn’t quite leave an impact. Of the supporting cast, Mithun Chakraborty is excellent – initially as the doting mentor and then as the editor who stands up only for truth and justice. Madhavan is OK but his role could have been given some more screen-space. Vidya Balan is just about OK.
Technical: Music is one of the movie’s assets and the songs are well-picturised. The placement of the songs in the first half-hour – where Mayya Mayya is almost immediately followed by Barso Re – could have been better. My gripe is that the best song of the lot – Ay Hairathe Aashiquie – has been left out of the movie! Tere Bina is also well-picturised but the orchestraic Jaage Hain and the stoic Baazi Laga are set as background pieces and tremendously add to the impact. Cinematography is excellent though I can’t stop thinking that the director/cameraman have tried to pass off South India as Idar village in Gujarat. The locations where Barso Re and the railway station bits are shot look so South Indian! And also I don’t think there is a big enough waterfall in Gujarat!
Conclusion: All-in-all, Guru is a must-watch movie for two reasons. One – Abhishek Bachchan, who delivers a solid knock-out performance. His character required immense maturity as it ages from being a youngster to becoming a shrewd Business tycoon and he manages that transition with panache. His aged look is so very close to reality. Two – for the brilliant chronicling of the rising of an individual who had only his dreams and his hunger for success to motivate him. Underhand means and illicit activities aside, this is a man who dared to dream big and achieved it with a selfless work-ethic and a sense of understanding for the people. And since there’s no message from the movie, it doesn’t fall into those “preachy” kinda movies and hence is much more enjoyable and watchable.