The headstart given by ‘Guru’ in 2007 heralds a great beginning to the film industry. After a lot of yeses and nosy about release dates, ‘Guru’ saw the limelight. The Abhi-Ash engagement rumours fuelled the interest for the movie. It being a Dhurubhai Ambani biopic, raised many an eyebrow too. If you thought Abhishekh was a director’s actor in ‘Yuva’. ‘Guru’ seals it with earthy warmth.
Gurukanth Desai, a small town Gujarati lad dreams big and dares to make dreams realities whether by greasing palms or gatecrashimg where none else works. First trying his hand at spice trade in Istanbul and then comes back to his roots to become a bigwig. He marries Sujatha (Aishwarya), his best friend’s sister to use the dowry as capital investment for his cloth ‘business.’ He fights his way through to the upper strata using hook and crook in equal measure. A Gandhian and newspaper publisher, Manik Dasgupta and his able idealist journo played by Madhavan decide to turn the tide on Guru by exposing his tax evasive and corrupt practices. But the son of the soil prevails; the courtroom drama is the highlight of the movie and leaves you with goose bumps and a desire in your heart to make it BIG and challenge the corporate hierarchy.
Junior Bachchan has essayed a dream role. He does no longer cower under the shadow of the Big B. He has come into his own playing the right and the wrong with audacity which makes you sit-up and take notice. Abhishek’s body language is impeccable, may it be the lanky ambitious lad in his early twenties, the husband romancing the lovely Ash, steadily climbing the rungs with a staid face or the paralytic visionary. He has done it all with aplomb. Aishwarya looks beautiful, she comes across as a loyal wife and a pillar of strength. She does nothing to look her age in the movie as Abhi steadily inculcates flab and swagger and a pout. Maniratnam pays tribute to Mithun Chakraborty. His role is the highlight of the film and you keep wondering as to why he appears in B-grade movies. A leaner and youthful-looking Madhavan plays his role to the hilt. Vidya Balan is completely wasted as the cripple daughter of Mithun. All in all it is Abhishekh who carries the movie on his shoulders. Mallika sizzles and leaves you sighing for more!
Though you cannot bypass the strong parallels between Gurukanth Desai and Dhirubhai Ambani, Maniratnam has weaved together a story which will be valued as a classic. While Guru goes to Istanbul to try his hand, Ambani had been a Yemen return. A lot of research has gone into the script to evade similarities. The first half of the movie is gripping but the second somehow drags on. Maniratnam has pooled in the best talents. Though the movie spans decades, Maniratnam has given ample time for each character to flower and detail. Art director Samir Chanda has recreated the India of the 50s with Mumbai’s Best trams ands old-modeled cars effortlessly. A R Rahman’s music is more rhythmic than lyric and ‘Barso re’ and ‘Tere Bin’ all already climbing the charts. Rajiv Menon’s widescreen lenses has made the movie a visual delight. The only glitch being the second half which could easily have been cut short 15 minutes.
The last word
Mithun Chakraborty proves a point. Abhishek is a one-man show. Maniratnam continues to awe us with gripping story line and excellent characterization. This is one movie you will not want to give a miss. A contemporary rags-to-riches saga essentially Indian with the right balance of black and white shades. The prophetic appeal to the masses, India does not need the World Bank to finance our progress when such blazing young Indians are being born everyday. Maniratnam has his name written on every frame and watch it on the big screen. You will cherish this!