Thursday, January 25, 2007

Guru: Not such a Winner!

One overwhelming feeling I had after coming out of the theatre was how tough it was to make a movie spanning an entire life. Usually, the movie revolves around a particular incident or event or a time period but when your movie is about the entire life of an individual, especially one who has done a great deal, it becomes so much tougher to put in all the big moments of his life, put in his relationships, his ideas, his principles – all that make up the fabric of his life into less than 3 hours – that too, making way for songs.

I’d say Guru was a good movie, but not a great movie. Mani Ratnam has a very strong support system in the form of Rajeev Menon and Rahman. Rajeev Menon works pure magic on the screen. The visuals in the ‘Barso Re’ song are simply stunning as are some of the scenes shot in Turkey especially the mosque (or whatever the structure is) that comes in to view against a blue blue sky as Guru enters and exits the country. The colour of the film during Guru’s Turkey stint is exotic and seems quite right for the period and the location.

I could go on about the visuals - the packed, shaky feeling the train scenes give the audience, the filtering light effect at the place where Sherawat’s item number takes place, the Bombay of the 50’s, the way the look and feel of the film changes through colours and tones to reflect the passing years. Speaking of which, post-independence Bombay had trams!! That’s how it is shown in the film and it was such a surprise to me.

Another thing about Mani Ratnam’s movies is the way he blends the music into the movie. It doesn’t mean that he has only situational songs – he does have songs as inserts like ‘Barso Re’ or ‘Ek lo ek muft’- it’s the way the music is so seamlessly blended into the movie that it never comes at the wrong time. Sometimes, there is a song playing in the background and you don’t even notice it because it becomes a part of the scene. While I personally think that’s quite a wonderful way of utilising the music, Rahman’s brilliant scores are best appreciated outside the movie.

I think Mani Ratnam has always managed to get excellent performances from his actors. Abhishek is very good – good enough to let you forget for large stretches of the film that he is actually Abhishek Bacchhan and not Guru. Vidya Balan shines in the limited time she has on screen, Madhavan is quite sufficient for his role but more importantly, he looks very very good…mmm. And Mithun is simply perfect!! This is probably the only movie in which I don’t dislike Aishwarya – she isn’t all dolled up in this one and does not simper or make ‘big big eyes’ expression; in fact, she doesn’t look like Ash doll and she doesn’t revert to her standard stock of expressions which is such a mercy because she is quite decent in this movie.

And each scene is shot with such thought and such care. I especially like the little touches – when Vidya Balan guesses that Aishwarya is pregnant – it was a completely unnecessary scene but its just a little touch which makes you feel more strongly about the characters. (On a side note, it is immediately after Guru and Sujata come back from a trip to the US that we are told Sujata is pregnant – is it a hint about the reason behind the US trip? Or am I reading too much into it?).

But despite all these pluses, Guru (the movie, not the man) does not come out such a winner. I think my biggest source of dissatisfaction with the movie is that while each individual scene is beautifully crafted, the big picture is ignored. For example, I’d have really liked to know what made Guru such a success. There is nothing he has done in Turkey, with the exception of a very quick promotion, which forms a base for us to think that he is an extraordinary young man. Yes, he is quite clearly depicted as a very confident and ambitious young man but there is no substantiation as to what he has done to realise his ambitions

To continue on that point, I’d have preferred the movie to show more of the kind of struggles he went through to come up in life, obstacles he faced and how he overcame them, even if by dishonest and illegal means. It just makes it look too easy as the factory grows from strength to strength through photos. Even the scene where Guru has to meet a Minister and the manager warns him that the minister is an ‘imandaar admi’. And yet, he offers a bribe very subtly and that is it, so easy.

Then the whole quarrel between Abhishek and the Mithun-Madhavan duo is stretched out for too long. In fact, at one point I remember getting quite restless and even looking at my watch and wondering if the movie is going to move along. The fight is too long drawn out, with a pointless emotional scene in a hospital also, a part which could definitely have done with better editing. By this point, the grip of the movie has quite slackened and what’s happening on the screen sadly doesn’t seem so compelling any more.

Despite all this, I think Guru would have come out as an excellent movie if not for the climax, which was what did the movie in. All through the movie, through your hero you are glorifying ambition, the hunger to become big and rich, to do anything to achieve your ambitions. And then, in the last 5 minutes, precisely, you make it sound like your doing some public service to help the country become a bigger power. I’d just like to think that Guru used an emotional angle to win over the jury, an excuse and a covering which he himself didn’t put faith in. But sadly enough, the movie gives no indication that it is so – and therefore, you have an extremely melodramatic and annoying climax involving a long speech.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the speech itself is quite painful, it doesn’t really make you sit up and take notice. The dialogues in this scene lacked punch and this reflected in Abhishek’s dialogue delivery as well. And the camera revolving around Abhishek is so distracting that at some point I simply stopped listening to the not-so-interesting-anyway speech because I was like ‘what the!! Someone stop the damn camera, or my head will start spinning’.

I guess I’d sum up the movie as being good but disappointing. I am off to Salaam-e-Ishq in 2 hours. While I wouldn’t mind not watching, a friend of mine is desperate to see the movie on the first day and so I am letting myself in for what I suspect will be a soppy, mushy romance though I’ll be more than glad to be proved wrong but when a movie has been hyped and looked forward to the way this has been, its more than likely to not turn out good. It looks like a Indian ‘Love Actually’ but since I didn’t care at all for LA, that doesn’t make a difference.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy New Year!!

Oh, I know the New Year wishes come late but a new year is a new year and its okay to wish people a happy new year as long as it’s still January. This was one of my worst New Year’s Eve ever – rivaling the time I was sulking because my parents refused to take us to some concert and slept through the night of the 31st.

This year there was this grand old plan of going to Goa, THE place to be for New Years. First, a couple of friends dropped out because they had issues with a couple who were a part of the group. Then, I almost couldn’t go because of an approaching deadline for a very important personal project. After much dilly-dallying and on again off again, we finally set off, though I felt I was going more as an obligation than because I wanted to go.

The killer was the journey itself. An 18 hour journey by road with a driver who isn’t very good just killed the holiday spirit in all of us. We just couldn’t wait to get out of the car and fall into our beds at the guest house when we reached on 30th night. The only silver lining was that I got to meet GV, Shivani, Mihir, BJ, Savvy, Spunky and Ravi and we had a very nice dinner at Baga beach to celebrate Swetha’s birthday, which was almost ruined coz it was spent in a car.

We spent all of 31st lazing around at Sinquerim beach, couple of water sports and lots of prawns…:p. Anyways, we were all (all = Hyderabad gang + IIMB gang) go clubbing for New Years Eve and we decided to go to Club West End, a new club which sounded good (especially since they were charging 600 bucks per head for unlimited booze).

When we got there, it turned out to be filled with aunties and uncles. And there started the trouble – some of us said it’s a cool looking place with great music and free booze – lets just go ahead and enjoy ourselves, never mind the aunties, uncles and their kids. Some were neutral. And the others, led by a person Who Shall Not Be Named, wanted to go to Club Cabana. I argued that we would get stuck in traffic, Cabana would be way too expensive etc but alas and alack, led by He Who Shall Not Be Named, nobody paid any heed to me.

The IIMB gang sensibly decided to get off midway and spend New Years Eve at Baga beach while we reached Cabana at 11pm past to find out it was way too expensive. We then set out for the beach but thanks to the traffic, we welcomed the New Year in a traffic jam in a car. I was soooo very pissed and hyper disappointed that I yelled at everyone – something to the effect of ‘I told you all so you idiots but none of you listened to me. I’m the only one here capable of some planning and you’ll don’t even have the sense to listen to me and then you all jointly ruin my New Years’. And I left in a huff and went to the guest house, got hung up on the phone by my Mom for being rude to her and slept.

I know – that was atrocious behaviour and I’m a BAD BAD BAD person. But my New Years Eve was ruined, I was upset and disappointed and I’m only human so I do get a kick out of saying ‘I told you so’. But to make my (non-existent) readers forget about what a painful person I actually am, I will follow this up with another post so that this one is forgotten.

Oh, and the 18 hour return journey just added to everyone’s misery. L

I do hope that darned trip is no indication of how the rest of the year is going to be. *Fingers crossed*.