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.

7 comments:

pradeep prabhala said...

:) worth a watch i guess ?

Ramya said...

pradeep: Yes, definitely worth a watch!

Ramanan said...

Your comments on Salaam-e-Ishq. I'm yet to find an equable review of that movie. I actually kinda liked it despite the movie taking nearly forever to wind down.

Anonymous said...

good review!!! i think u can be a better reviewer thn the crappy ones being hired by rediff.com. good going gal

Ramya said...

Ramanan: So the Big Apple as frascinating as it was in the beginning?
And yes, will probably write something on Salaam-e-Ishq, though it probably you wouldnt agree with me on that coz I dodnt like it much...:P

Anon: I cant figure out if thats a compliment...:p. And someone took me to watch one of the worst Hindi movies I ever saw because of the Rediff reviewer...:(

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... now that one helluva a review and a write ... haven't yet watched it ... perhaps I wud sometime..Trust me IT took all my patience in me to read u through ... good reviewing , a suggestion if u don't mind ... KISS = KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET definetely u got talent and a long way to go ma'am !!!
Da Enigma .

Ramya said...

Da Enigma: Thannks for the compliments...:)
About keeping it short, I dont know...I have a confession to make...Bhardwaj Rangan is my ultimate idol when it comes to movie reviews...now I seem to have been inspired by him into writing everything that comes to my mind when watching the movie and passing it off for a review...:p...was kidding...and while it sounds bad to him, I think that guy is THE BEST reviewer of hindi movies ever...

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