I went to see Guru yesterday. It being a Maniratnam (MR) movie, there was no doubt about whether I was going to see the movie - of course I was. The question was more along the lines of when.
After seeing Aishwarya Rai's hair-rising performance in Dhoom-2 (which left me wanting to pluck out all the hairs which had risen), I was kind of wary about catching Guru (also featuring Ms. Rai) on the big screen where there is no scope of moksha in the form of a remote control - but I finally decided to go.
So, how was the movie? Well, while I found a lot of points to pick quarrels with, the movie as a whole is a decent entertainer and good timepass. The story is exactly what the rumors predicted - it tracks the rags-to-riches story of Gurukanth Desai, a villager who goes on to become one of India's leading industrialists. On the way, the media starts questioning his methods which involve quite a lot of law breaking. How Guru faces these accusations form the latter half of the story.
The movie has a lot of things going for it - good director, good music and big actors. And thankfully, all of it has not been squandered away. The cinematography is simply excellent - each scene is framed beautifully. The actors do a great job playing their roles.
Mithun Chakravarthy (MC) plays the role of an upright newspaper editor who always stands for his principles - whoever thought that I could actually appreciate the performance of an actor I have always referred to as frying-pan head (for the forever slicked-back oily-look MC's head used to have). Abhishek Bachchan as Guru starts off portraying his "middle-aged" mannerisms even when he is still "young" in the movie. This jarred a bit but as his age progresses in the movie, he started fitting it well. Madhavan looked cute :-D and delivered a very sincere performance. Vidya Balan is mostly wasted - but she does well in whatever little role she got.
Which leaves Aishwarya Rai. Oh boy! I couldn't believe it was her! I don't know how exactly MR managed it but she is NOT annoying and actually displays something like acting in this movie! Her role is that of a strong-woman-behind-her-man. I confess, I actually liked her in that role most of the time. I especially liked the scene where Abhishek suddenly collapses when they are alone together. Instead of losing her head and yelling to the Gods to intervene and save her mangal-sutra (like desi heroines usually do), she keeps her head, calmly loosens his tie and after reassuring him, runs for help. And then, without melodrama, she stands by his side and supports him as he slowly mends.
That was about the lead performers. What about the rest of it? Most of the songs are randomly inserted except for the ones which play in the background. Doesn't MR usually do a better job of transitioning to songs?
The "Barson re megha" song has Ash dancing to it. She looked supremely uncomfortable doing it. Maybe it was because of her ultra low-cut cholis or because she looks a trifle too old to be dancing girlishly in the rain. The "tere bina" song picturization is not bad - but neither of the playback singers' voices suit Abhishek/Ash who lip-sync to it on the screen. So it looked kind of weird. But none of the songs were terribly picturized either (we still have that guarantee in MR's movies :-)). And really, each of Ash's lehengas and cholis while she is in the village look like designer wear worth thousands of rupees. How many village belles wear such designer clothes?
As for the story itself, neither me nor the friends I went with could quite figure out what exactly it was focussing on. Following Guru's rise to the top? Or the media's role in society? Or a call to industrialists to have more integrity? All these topics are touched upon but none of it is really gone into in depth - so at the end of the movie you have this "Huh, what did I see just now" feeling.
But what took me totally by surprise was the ending (this is really not a spoiler, but skip this paragraph if you are very particular about not knowing anything about the movie). The message I got there was "It is okay to break the law as long as you are progressing and causing the country to progress along with you". Really? Who decides whether it really is progress you are making? Or for that matter, to what extent is breaking of the law okay and under what circumstances? What was funnier was how the inquiry commission in the movie seems to be swayed by this senseless argument. Oh well, this is just a movie - still that message jarred quite a bit. I shall just take it as entertainment and not dwell too much upon it.
At the end of the day, I still feel the biggest achievement of Guru as far as I am concerned is actually making me appreciate Ash Rai. You would realize what a milestone that is if you have read these posts (, ) of mine :-)!
So, should you watch the movie? Certainly - it is worth one watch at least. It is definitely not MR's finest movie but you should watch it at least to see how a director can make a world of difference to actor's performances.