Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to watch Guru. I think it is a fascinating story of a fascinating man told in a fascinating way. After all it is a Mani Ratnam film, a name that we have come to associate with excellence in Indian cinema for more than a decade now. You notice his eye for detail in the very beginning of the film when Guru’s childhood unfolds on the screen. The actor cast in the role to play the young Guru is tall with big eyes, with an uncanny resemblance to Abhishek Bachhan.
The scenes shot in
From then, the movie flows at a very nice pace, correctly showing the pace in which Guru progresses though the business world and though life. The songs are picturized very well even though most of them are not necessary in the film, and tend to drag the film. Ravi Mennon’s use of color filter in the solo dance sequence enhances the viewing experience and its refreshing to hear Bappi Lahiri’s voice.
The main strength of the film lies in the acting by its carefully chosen cast. Mithun is very effective in short bursts as the righteous enemy. Most people say that Vidya Balan is wasted, but I disagree. I think she has a very important and difficult role, though not necessarily a meaty one. Madhavan is wasted in his role as the young firebrand journalist, though he excels in the romantic scenes with Balan. I am not sure whether the editing floor is responsible for his meager role, or whether Mr. Ratnam lost his character in the midst of the other heavyweights. Arya Babbar plays the ineffective brother-in-law very effectively.
Aishwarya Rai gives a solid performance, just proving that an effective director can really bring her acting abilities to the screen (like Rituparno Ghosh in the past). In any film where the title of the film is the name of its primary character, there is a fear of the protagonist overshadowing the other characters, but Ash more than holds her own, being a rock of support for Abhishek throughout the film. Also, she looks ravishing in the first half, and resembles Kokila Ben almost a 100% in the second.
This is by far Abhishek’s best performance to date. I would put this above his performance in Sarkar, when he was still growing as an actor. He has done his homework very well on Dhirubhai, as can be seen by his nuances with his right hand, putting on weight for the role and a subtle Gujarati accent. Also, the pouting of the lower lip brings a certain credibility to the character. A special mention must be made of the scene when Guru has a heart attack. It looks so real that you actually want to call an ambulance. The court scene is very moving and inspiring though you can see a little bit of his father in him.
Overall an inspiring film and like all Mani Ratnam films, technically very correct, fulfilling the long due call for biographical movies in the Indian film industry. In his illustrious career, I would rate this film a notch lower than Vellunayakan and give it an 8.5/10.