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Tale of a dreamer admirably told -- Guru

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ALL ABOUT MANIPULATION: Guru.
ALL ABOUT MANIPULATION: Guru.

GuruGenre: Drama
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan,Aishwarya Rai, MithunChakraborty, Madhavan,Vidya Balan
Storyline: Follows the lifeof Gurukant Desai, and hisambitious quest formonetary success andpower.
Bottomline: Mani talks.'Guru' is vintage Mani Ratnam. It encapsulates his characteristic canniness about human nature, specifically relationships. However, for anyone reasonably familiar with the filmmaker's work, there are moments of déjà vu. As Sujata (Aishwarya Rai) dances her way through the village scenes, you are reminded of `Roja.' Even one of the A.R.Rahman tracks is reminiscent of `Yuva.' And though there is no actual similarity between the stories of Gurukant Desai and Velu Naicker (from `Nayagan'), their lives follow the same formula, with the same techniques used at defining moments. But the difference lies in the choice of subject.

A deviation

Guru (Abhishek Bachchan) is a man who rises on dubious morals and a clear regard for self above service. This is a deviation for a director who prefers to make his stories exercises in social awareness. It is not that the director justifies his character. There is a monologue in the end where Guru talks to a packed courtroom about why he did things the way he did. But it is a sketchy reasoning that gets undue applause from the onlookers. However, the jury, (headed by a no-nonsense Roshan Seth) knows. And so does the audience. It's Guru's ability to manipulate the situation that gets him off the hook. So `Guru' is not the tale of a good man, but one who had a dream and pulled out all stops to make it come true. An admirable enough tale to make a film about. Aishwarya Rai warms up to her role in the second half of the film. When we first see her, she is a feisty village belle, dancing in the rain and frolicking by a waterfall. This is a woman who won a pageant for her poise and self-aware beauty, so there is no way she could make a convincing village belle. But as the loyal wife of Guru, who supports her husband with a quiet dignity, she is in more comfortable territory.If you haven't already heard, this is considered Abhishek Bachchan's role of a lifetime. He definitely does a dedicated job, even growing a paunch to rival his pregnant wife's tummy. Again, Abhishek's acting skills come to the fore as the older Guru. Mithunda goes about his role with a loud eccentricity. Vidya Balan is good, in the itsy-bitsy part that she plays. But the most significant performance is from Madhavan, especially commendable because it isn't such a significant role. It is restraint that is difficult, and Madhavan's passionate journalist Shyam Saxena is a very restrained person. You know he's passionate because of the single-minded determination with which he pursues business tycoon Guru, determined to bring him down. But he is deadpan for most of the time onscreen. That's why his one passionate gesture on a jetty is perhaps the most effective moment of the film. The cinematography by Rajiv Menon is classic.SUSAN MUTHALALY

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