Friday, February 23, 2007


Mani Ratnam’s Guru ends with a polemic against the ‘Licence Raj’, the period prior to the reforms of the 90s when bureaucratic red tapeism was high. Since the reforms initiated by Dr Manmohan Singh in the Narasimha Rao government, this argument against the License Raj may have become irrelevant. Today, it appears that starting and running a company in India is comparatively easier. This is a conclusion I arrive at by the sheer proliferation of software and automobile companies in recent years.
If as reports say, Gurukant Desai is Dhirubhai Ambani, then it is wrong to side with Reliance, which is a well-entrenched power centre. It’s also wrong to convince the viewer that his sympathies should lie with the biggest empire in Independent India.

The movie meanders in the first half and really begins in earnest only with Guru entering the textiles market in Mumbai, demanding a membership in the union. Until then, the movie was largely forgettable except for the scenes between Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, which assume significance mostly because of their off-screen relationship.
Why Mani spends the first 15 minutes of the movie in Turkey is an unanswered question. Some viewers may argue that it is here that Guru makes the important decision not to work under the white man. But still as a portrayal of a businessman's early days, this portion of the movie is unconvincing.

At times I also felt that this is hardly the movie a director should be making 15 years after Nayagan, acclaimed as the best Tamil movie of all time.

But Guru is not at all a completely shoddy work. The song sequences are excellent. The songs by A.R.Rahman, I felt, were among his best. The background music though leaves much to be desired. Abhishek's performance, like many have already noted, is his best since he first appeared in Refugee. But my quarrels with the politics of the movie remain. Any comments?