Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Guru (2007)

As hype goes, 'Guru' certainly had it's share of it and for good reason. It was made by one of the most preeminent directors of our day (Mani Ratnam), with music by one of the industry's finest composers (A.R. Rahman), lyrics penned by a legendary poet (Gulzar) and of course headlined by the hottest movie star couple of the day on & off-screen (Abhishek Bachchan & Aishwarya Rai) - the result? A potentially great movie that ultimately collapsed under the weight of it's own ambition. The movie is loosely based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani and tells the story of how an ordinary man became one of the richest and most powerful men in India. The performance of AB was very good as he completely disappeared into the role (looking eerily like Hollywood actor Alfred Molina). However the finest acting job was by none other than the 'Disco Dancer' star himself, Mithun Chakraborty. His role in the film was unlike any he had undertaken before and served as a validation of his long and storied career in Bollywood. But while the plot was intriguing, the story did not flow, and in the end, the audience was left with more questions than answers.

In the final analysis I would recommend this movie not because it was a great film but because it touched me in a very personal way. It allowed me to experience the India of my parent's youth and my imagination. The uncrowded and unpolluted streets, the fields being tilled by hand, the smattering of my native Gujarati being spoken every so often and the simple way of life uncluttered by the litany of modern conveniences. The train station scene in which Guru is being seen off by his family was particularly affecting for me as it took me back to what it must have been for my father when he came to America. The picture above is of that actual day in 1971 when he did and that is me he is holding. My mother is to his left and surrounding him are various friends that we keep in touch with till this day. The look in his eyes says it all (much as Guru's did in the film) - that dreams are not worth having unless you are willing to go out and live them.

The music selections are Barso Re that depicted the India of that era so very nostalgically and gave Aishwarya her signature song for the movie. The other song is Tere Bina and is used throughout the movie at various points. It's background vocals are sung by none other than A.R. Rahman himself and it is easily the best song on the entire soundtrack.


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

I love your description of your personal connection to the setting of the filme! The picture is priceless! Interestingly this sort of connection to bigger ideas or stories is one of the reasons why I love working where I do (in a museum). I'm still waiting for the day a Bollywood movie reminds me of something from my own story, but I'm sure it will happy soon enough - after all, one of the things I love about Bollywood is the universality of its emotions :)

TNL said...

I have yet to see this movie...we aren't fortunate enough to get Indian movies here....but I agree with you, Tere Bina is a great song.
Waiting to see this one.

A fellow Gujju

Maja said...

I love that picture, it reminds me of old pictures of my parents and grandparents :)

I really liked Guru, it's true that it leaves you with a lot of questions but I thought that might be just me, since I don't speak Hindi (yet ;) ) and the subtitles were awful.

Salaam-e-Ishq is my favourite soundtrack of the year so far, but Guru is a very close second and Barso Re and Tere Bina are definitely the stand-out songs. Beautiful!

Sanket Vyas said...

Thanks everyone for writing. It's the personal connection that comes from being Desi that makes it so rewarding to watch Bollywood movies. And in cases such as this - it can elevate even the mediocre film to something special for you.