By Martin D'Souza, Bollywood Trade News Network
Before I can even go any further, get your advance booking done. Gurukant Desai (Abhishek Bachchan) is set to rock you with his controlled performance that makes you want to hug the gujjubhai, who puts his foot in every door and bribes his way through others that refused to open, to race his way to the top.
Guru, a period flick, is the story of a simple but ambitious villager, Gurukant Desai. He dreams big and to fulfill his dreams arrives in Bombay (1958). He is married to Sujata (Aishwarya Rai). He also has something else; two shirts and Rs.15,000 to start his business, along with the Rs 25,000 he got as dowry! But soon he realizes that the business world is ruled by a handful of rich and influential people and for him to make his foray here, he has to “force” his way.
So it’s both black and white sides to him now. His fair side wins him admirers, at the same time as his grey side earns him a few detractors. Nanaji (Mithun) who runs a newspaper Swatantra and Shyam Saxena (Madhavan, the honest reporter) are two of them who stand up to fight Guru’s unjust ways.
The movie begins with an older Abhishek, whose makeover is a little comical. At times it reminds me of SRK’s older avatar in Veer Zara. Why can’t our makeover match that of our Hollywood counterparts? Look at Russell Crowe aging in A Beautiful Mind. It’s simply amazing. If we can get in foreign stunt directors and fight masters, Mani Ratnam could have done well to rope in a Hollywood ‘magician’ to do the trick for AB Jr. Apart from this, the movie rolls on without a glitch.
A very young Guru, just out of school, goes to Turkey in search of work and in seven years there, he makes an impact with the English bosses who promote him with a hefty hike in salary. He spurns the offer and returns to his village to do bijness instead of working for the goras. “Sab kuch pehle se hi likha hai,” he tells his friend who berates him for thinking big. His father too, is not kicked, but Guru is adamant and makes his way to Bombay. There are obvious references to the late Dhirubhai Ambani.
The way the story unravels keeps the audience to their seat. Guru simply refuses to hear a “no’ and supposedly has an answer to every problem which sees his meteoric rise, until Mithunda (Nanaji) decides to expose him.
In the end, it’s Guru’s gujju brain that wins him the day and the inquiry commission instituted to delve into his supposed many frauds can prove just two. It’s the junta that stands behind him who he has helped make big bucks.
Aishwarya Rai emotes well as the wife who stands by her husband through thick and thin. The chemistry between the off-screen couple sets alight the screen. Mithunda impresses with his mature performance playing his age, but one wonders what Vidya Balan is doing sitting in a wheelchair. Clearly, the actress is far more talented. However, Mani Ratnam has done a fab job with the storyline. The acclaimed director has caught the audience pulse with Guru, which is no run-of-the-mill Bollywood flick. The lip-lock between Madhavan and Vidya Balan is beautifully shot making one stand up and applaud. Indian cinema is evolving!
One sees shades of the Amitabh of Pukar in the young Abhishek with a mustache, and flashes of his father’s Agneepath performance in the cold confrontation with Mithun. Aby’s baby has grown and how! He’s now moved into the league of actors instead of just being a ‘star son’. He has done his homework well and stands tall as he directs his dialogue with the ease of a seasoned pro. He has worked well on his body language as a gujjubhai and has gone four steps further by showing a “four month” pregnant belly!
We have seen the Shahenshah. We have also seen the Baadshah. Ab agaya sab ka GURU!