Guru (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (20th December 2015).
The Film

Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) is a young Indian man with big dreams of making it as an acting star in America. A short prologue piece shows us Ramu as a young boy turning away from the traditional Bollywood films and becoming entranced with American productions, in this case the finale from ‘Grease’. Ramu is a dance teacher in his native Delhi, a job he gives up to pursue his dream. He travels to America and joins up with his cousin Vijay, who already lives in New York. However Vijay had been wildly exaggerating his success much to Ramu’s dismay. Ramu then finds himself living in a one room studio with Vijay and two of his friends and working with Vijay in an Indian restaurant. Ramu soon gets fired from his job after assaulting a bigoted customer and wanting to fulfil his acting dream he attends an audition. What Ramu does not know is that the audition is for a porn film. Despite this Ramu gets the part in the porn film. Once on set it becomes clear to Ramu that he is to star in a porn film. Despite become cast alongside Sharonna (Heather Graham), a beautiful young woman, Ramu cannot ‘perform’ as expected and is fired. Sharonna gives Ramu some last minute parting words about how to act in a blue movie before they part. Ramu then attends a socialite’s party which is being catered by the restaurant owner who fired him earlier. Ramu is hoping that he will give him his job back but before he can ask his a Guru that was hired to impart advice and wise words to the gathered guests falls unconscious drunk. Ramu is then convinced to stand in for the Guru, which he does. When faced by the guests, all wanting words of wisdom from Ramu, all Ramu can do it repeat the advice the was imparted by Sharonna, most of which revolves around sex and the genitals. The guest of honour at the party, Lexi (Marisa Tomei), is so impressed by his words that she starts to spread the word of her new ‘Sex Guru’ around her socialite friends. Soon Ramu is in demand and is seeing, and imparting his borrowed wisdom to many couples. However, Ramu realises that his wisdom will only stretch so far so he goes back to Sharonna and convinces her to teach him more about how to act in the porn industry. These lessons he then transfers to his Guru business. Sharonna meanwhile is also not what she seems. She is dating a fireman and pretends to him that she is a supply school teacher so he does not learn about her working in the adult industry. Lexi then employs the talents of an agent for Ramu who sets him up with a one night show only on Broadway. During the show Sharonna turns up and is disgusted that Ramu had used her so he could make money and become famous on the back of her philosophies and storms off. Ramu is distraught. Whilst it is true that this was his initial intention he has since fallen in love with Sharonna. Ramu then later appears on television and denounces himself as a fraud. He then leaves the television studio in a last minute dash to interrupt Sharonna’s wedding so he can profess his love for her.

If there is a standard formula for the romantic comedy (rom-com) then ‘The Guru’ follows it to the letter. Young man travels far to seek his fortune, meets woman, falls in love, loses his love, gets his love back at the end. It’s a story that has been told a thousand times and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it’s told in a refreshing way. This is where ‘The Guru’ fails. What this film tries to do to make up for it’s obvious script deficiencies is have a pretty good ensemble cast and a decent musical soundtrack. Despite this attributes ‘the Guru’ never really rises above average. Jimi Mistry as Ramu Gupta is likeable enough but he is pretty much overshadowed in every scene by his two female co-stars. Heather Graham, here playing a porn star for the second time in her career (Boogie Nights being the other one) is sweet, charming and, of course, stunningly beautiful. Marisa Tomei is not to be out done though and the scene where she grinds and dances in her underwear is, for me, definitely the highlight of the film. The romantic side of the film is handled reasonably well, if clichéd, but the comedy aspect is severely lacking. What ‘The Guru’ lacks is a subtle wit, preferring instead to go for the crass one liner or the vulgar swear word instead. It’s as subtle as getting hit over the head with a sledgehammer. Partly making up for this are the musical numbers. Performed in the traditional Bollywood style these are fun to watch elevate the film from it’s below average status, if only for a brief moment. The subject matter means that this is not a film for all the family (hence it’s 15 rating) with fairly frequent instances of nudity and bad language and I feel that if the secondary subject matter had been of a more family friendly nature ‘The Guru’ would have been a bigger hit. But then we would not have the delightful Ms Tomei in her underwear, so you win some, you lose some.

Video

Presented in it’s original theatrical aspect ration of an anamorphic 1.85:1 picture. The visual presentation is perfectly acceptable. The colours of the film (and there is a lot of colour, as you would expect from a film with Indian heritage) are bright but the overall picture is a little on the soft side even when up scaled through a Blu-ray player. I imagine most viewers and fans of the film will be quite satisfied with the picture quality.

Audio

The discerning listener is presented with two English language options. These are Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 and DTS 5.1. The DTS mix is strong and powerful, especially during the musical numbers. On one or two occasions the music did drown out snippets of dialogue but these were very brief instances. The 2.0 mix was much flatter in comparison but acceptable. There is also the option to watch the film with a Hungarian audio soundtrack. Subtitles are included and these are available in either English, English HoH, or Hungarian.

Extras

For such a modest film this disc is stacked with extras.

Audio Commentary with Daisy Von Sherler Mayer (Director) and Tracey Jackson (script writer) - The pair of collaborators provide an informative commentary about all aspects of the making of the film including the extensive use of locations around New York. What struck me straight of is Director Mayer’s comments that this was an opportunity to take the normal romantic comedy scenario and put a new spin on it, which is exactly the complete opposite of what I though she and Jackson had done.

Audio commentary with Jimi Mistry - An interesting commentary from the film’s leading man with some great insights into the making of the movie. In an early scene, during the porn audition, Ramu performs the dance from Risky Business performed originally by Tom Cruise. Jimi tells us that this part of the scene was not in the script and it was something he and Daisy concocted the night before the shoot. Even during the performance no one on set could quite believe what Jimi was doing but the scene was kept in and rightly so. What is also interesting, and viewers of Eastenders and Coronation Street will already know, is that Jimi acts in the whole film whilst doing a faux Indian accent. As I had not seen Jimi in anything previously this came as a bit of a surprise to me.

Music Video: Sugababes; Round Round (04.05) - Official video featuring The Sugababes and clips from the movie.

Deleted Scenes (08.58) - The first scene is an extended version for the opening scene. This scene runs for 5 minutes and 3 seconds. It’s a shame it was cut down so significantly as the footage is most of what was actually shot in Delhi. What remains is no more than a minute or so in the finished film and seems rather a waste of what, I imagine, was a costly set of shots. The next scene is an extension of another early scene, The Kitchen Scene and runs for 49 seconds. Lexi and Lars Break-up is the next scene and runs for 2 minutes and 40 seconds and includes the Director’s cameo. Ramu and Lexi in Bed is a very brief deleted scene at 6 seconds. Picking Out Wedding China features Sharonna and Rusty and runs for 13 seconds. Dancing Nun which is also short at 25 seconds. The final deleted scene is I Love Your Dress and takes place towards the end of the film and is 22 seconds long. All of the footage here on the deleted scenes is in a much rawer state than the feature presentation.

Photo Gallery (1.18) - A series of set photographs set to the music of The Sugababes and the soundtrack song from Grease that was used in the film.

The Guru Theatrical Trailer (02.13)
The Guru Theatrical Teaser Trailer (01.11)
Ned Kelly Theatrical Trailer (0.57)
Johnny English Theatrical Trailer (01.19)


Just a quick word on the menu on the DVD. It is one of the most annoying I have ever come across. It seems to go on forever before letting you make a choice or even changing menu screens. During the review of this film I had to sit through it 26 times. The bright spinning colours and repeated Indian Song are now permanently burned into the brain. Whatever you do, don’t watch it whilst suffering from a hangover.

Overall

Whilst some romantic comedies, like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and When Harry Met Sally, tread the fine line between wit and pathos, ‘The Guru’ just tramples all over the line in an effort to try to be different and get to the same conclusion in an almighty rush. It’s agreeable cast do a decent job with a shoddy, unimaginative script whilst the occasional song and dance routines just about elevate the film, in smalls parts, from it’s below average batting score. It’s a reasonably fun film in sections but it’s nowhere near as deep as it would like to be. Mildly entertaining fluff.

The Film: C+ Video: B- Audio: B Extras: A Overall: B-

 


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