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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Guru


What an exceptional movie!!! Expecting another Bollywood movie and I was so, so wrong. This is a movie that will appeal to general audiences if only finds distribution beyond the regular Bollywood circuit. I already read that has distribution in Canada and it seems that is in negotiations for a distributor in the US. What about the rest of the world??? I suppose that eventually someone will figure-out the release of a DVD with multiple language subtitles.

For us westerners let me tell you that this movie has NOTHING to envy from Hollywood greatest dramas, this movie is high quality drama with excellent performance by Abhshek Bachchan!! This is his movie and he does it so well playing with your feelings, emotions, sensations and your brain!! And if you live in a “third world” country you will realize that touches the very reason why these countries are given that name. And if you live in a “first world” country, please open your brain when you watch this movie and give yourself a chance to understand what today happens in other parts of the world… as if you get it, you have to remember that not long ago this also happened in your countries.

But the most important and interesting twist in this story is that this visionary character did something very seldom done allover the world, he shared his wealth with others as he went public. Most rags-to-rich stories are about tycoons that become extremely wealthy and remain private as long as they can… this happens in movies, books and real life. Paraphrasing what someone said in the movie ‘if there will be more Guru’s, then we will have more opportunities to get rid of poverty’. Hmm… what a nice dream, isn’t? Well, here is another quote: “Don't dream. Dreams never come true, my father ... often told me when I was a young boy. But I did dream." These insightful words-of-wisdom are just the very beginning of the movie!

Okay, this is a movie about reaching goals, setting new goals and succeeding and in the process doing many things that will not make you or me proud. But this story presents this situation in a mainframe that makes sense… a lot of sense, as you are not alone in the world that surrounds you and you “need” to play the game as well as other players are playing or if you are clever enough, outdo their skills. In the end you will have people wondering something like this and here goes another quote “is he a genius or a thug? Both”.

If I would not have opened my brain -and I do not live in a "first world" country-, I would have only seen the story of a thug… but, with the help of Abhshek Bachchan performance and the outstanding screenplay, it was quite easy to enjoy the character and fall for his charm… then suddenly you realize everything that is happening around him and understand it in the mainframe of the story. Is something like what happens when you watch The Last King of Scotland and Forest Whitaker plus the screenplay make you like Ibi Amin (!!) until he becomes the beast he really was. Here, Guru never becomes a beast… and this is just remarkable, as if the screenplay or acting would have been different be sure that it could have happened.

Maybe if you have read up to this point you can get an idea of how this movie plays with your feelings, emotions, sensations and brain.

Well, let me tell you about the movie as a movie. This is a movie directed by Mani Ratnam who also is responsible for the story, with Vijay Krishna Acharya responsible for the dialogue. This is fiction and not a biography as Ratman clearly states in many interviews. What happens is that has many similarities to one particular Indian petrochemical tycoon and other successful Indian businessmen and one businesswoman! Some speculate that the Gurukant Desai (Guru for short) is a fusion of many real-life business people and probably they are right. If this would have been a western story think American Bill Gates plus Mexican Carlos Slim (just recently ranked as #2 wealthiest man in the world) and other Forbes wealthiest men and women, get some key elements from each and then you have your Guru character.

Abhishek Bachchan plays Guru; Aishwarya Rai plays Sujata Desai, Guru’s wife. These two characters are along the whole movie and are the only ones that are truly well developed. Many other characters are in really supporting roles and do not expect them to be well developed. Aishwarya performance is great, but her character is really a supporting role, except in the hearing scenes. As Umrao Jaan was Aish movie and Abhishek had a supporting role, Guru is Abhishek movie with Aish in a supporting role.

Still this is a Bollywood movie and has dances routines and songs, but believe me, besides being colorful and beautiful to watch, most do not interfere at all with the story. Cinematography is outstanding and we get to see magnificent landscapes in Turkey as well as many places in India. Particularly I noticed that for the dance routines they used earth colors, which make them feel very warm!! Magnificent effect!

There is one particular scene where I just jumped from my seat! Meenu (Vidya Balan) and Shyam (Madhavan) KISS! This is the very first kiss I ever seen in a Bollywood movie! Reading about this movie I found an article that tells that this scene broke the no-kiss code of conduct in Bollywood movies. Vidya has been “criticized” for doing this scene and Madhavan says: “the Guru kiss will be the first and last screen smooch”. I tell you, this is so different in this side of the world! If you want to see the kiss is in Youtube…but don’t expect a big kiss… is just a little insignificant peck!

It is hard to close this unusual review, but I know that most people do not like to read… and if I want someone to read it, I should make it short!! But, this is just impossible with this movie.

I am going to watch this movie again; I just have to do it. If you are lucky enough to have a theater near you showing it, do not miss it… just think that it will never come to where I live and that I’ll be waiting to buy the multi language DVD as this one absolutely goes to my collection!

I decided to include some complete quotes from this movie...

"Don't dream. Dreams never come true, my father, the headmaster of our village school often told me when I was a young boy. But I did dream. As I grew, so did my dreams. Bigger than my outstreatched arms, bigger than my small house, bigger than my village. I loved Idhar. It was quiet, peaceful, lazy and green. But I knew that my destiny was beyond this village... I knew that my destiny had to be made by me. "

"When I came to Bombay I had two shirts, a wife, a brother-in-law and Rs.15,000 in a small suitcase to start a business. But all doors were shut for a newcomer. Indian business and trade were run by a handful of the rich and the privileged. Only they were given the licenses, they had the quotas and they controlled all the government and trade. It was an exclusive club where it was imposible for an ordinary middle class newcomer to enter, leave alone succeed. You had to kick the doors open or cajole them open. I did both. I did not take no for an answer. And that's because I can never hear the word no."

"We started Shakti Trading in a 350 sq feet room, with one telephone, one table and three chairs. Today Shakti Corporation is the first Indian company to enter the Forbes top 500 list. People ask me how this happened. I say by thinking... Think Big, Think Ahead and Think Fast."

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