I’m not going to attempt a review because I’ve read far too many by now and so have you.
Some quick thoughts that race through my mind after watching Guru this late in the day. Spoilers galore.
1. Mani Ratnam pays tribute to his own earlier works. How weird is that? In a lot of ways, it does look like a rehash of his scenes and techniques from his earlier films but I would credit the filmmaker with more intelligence. He has made only one film before in Hindi, a language still alien to him. And given that Dil Se bombed because of its radical ending, Mani probably decided to play it safe and stack up his best from his earlier films, all into one movie.
What do you get if Nayakan (1987) met Roja (1992), moved to Bombay (1995) and had twins, played Godfather to a terminally ill Anjali (1990, instead of spastic, he makes her a patient of multiple sclerosis), had an ideological clash that broke a friendship between Iruvar (1997) that results in the all-powerful hero challenged by a young and honest cop (Nayakan)/IAS officer (Thalapathy, 1991) and now reporter (Guru) married to someone he loves? You get a Mani Ratnam showreel. Guru is exactly that.
The storyline is just an excuse to unleash some superlative moments, especially the ones that underline the director’s sensitivity in handling relationships (Guru’s relationship with his old friend, the relationship between Madhavan and Vidya, the relationship between Guru and Mithun, his relationship with his father, his relationship with Vidya and his relationship with his wife): super sensitively crafted.
2. The movie introduces to mainstream Hindi cinema a genre rarely seen. The biopic. That too, a biopic of not a necessarily honest man but of an ambitious man who had a vision and won. Mani Ratnam revels in showing us the greys of his protagonist.
He marries for dowry, he has no problem bribing or evading taxes and later tells the hearing commission that he’s only a product of the system that was not considerate to the poor. He only did what it took for a poor man to run a business in an environment not conducive for business.
You can’t help feeling that Mani has bought into Guru’s ideology and sacrificed the objectivity he maintained all through the film. But if a columnist has a right to take sides, why not a filmmaker?
3. Abhishek Bachchan, as even people who hate the movie agree, is certainly among the finest actors we have today. This is HIS film. Yes, he does deliver the role of a lifetime. I don’t like Aishwarya at all, but I thought she did manage a few scenes quite well towards the end. For once, they look like a couple in love. Having said that, an actress like Rani Mukherjee would’ve taken the same character to new heights. The rest of the cast is first rate and never have I seen these many top class performances all in one movie.