Monday, January 15, 2007

Guru Bhai's dreams

Sreejitha asks me as the movie begins-- "why would people be interested in watching this person's story"?

That sums up the feeling that this longish film leaves behind at the end of something short of three hours. Why should we be interested in watching this documentary?

So what if the technical crew have tried their best to get the right period look and make it technically sound (with exception of some camera effects that are painful, and the two dance numbers by Mallika Sheravat and Aishwarya that look completely out of place), what if Abhishek Bachchan looks a slim 20-something in his Turkey days and puts on a tummy as the character grows older (and richer), what if the actors do their best -- Mithunda and Junior B deserve very special mentions (Aishwarya should consider herself lucky to be cast in this film if she can't do better than this) -- unlike Nayakan which is more or less on similar lines, the film fails to hold one's interest. And worse, the viewers are forced to share the dream that the protagonist has. (Mera ek sapna hai-- does that ring a bell?)

Comparisons with Nayakan are inevitable, as the similarities are endless. So is this marking the change of times, from a hero who fights for the poor and the landless in the eighties to trying to convince the audience it is the big industrialists who are really doing something for the nation and its people? (Baradwaj calls it an unabashed ode to capitalism. He makes some other interesting observations as well).

[Image from the film web site]


Sweta said...

Just like leftist philosophy and way of life is okay in this country, so is capitalist philosophy and way of life.

Why can't a movie-maker make "an unabashed ode to capitalism" movie? Sreejitha raised a good point at the right time. Why did you watch it in the first place? Just because it doesn't talk about the pitiful state of Muslims in this country or about the people of Northeast in this country, the movie doesn't become bad!!!

sudeep said...

Wow! That is an interesting comment. And yea, how many Hindi movies have you seen in last ten years (or 15? Last I can think of are Amitabh's Angry Young Man movies) that have the life of poorer people in this country, forget "leftist philosophy". And just how many movies have we seen with a "normal" Muslim character ("they" are reserved for Villan, pimp, or "I love my nation despite being a Muslim" roles), forget the film being about "pitiful state of Muslims". And on north-east, what we have are "nationalist" films like Tango Charlie that portray the tribals here as some wild beasts.

[So if you still want to figure out what I like in movies, you can try. One movie I liked most in last 2-3 years is Bluffmaster. Another one Kung-fu Hustle. I liked even Yuva better than Guru.]

I'm not saying he can't make an unabashed ode to capitalism- My problem with the film is that it lacked any kind of appeal (it didn't look like it was just me, more than three fourth of the hall was empty, on the second day of its release. Dhoom 2 went to full houses in its first weekend at the same hall). I heard this was the general feeling even in Bombay. Despite all the media hype, the film doesn't seem to be touching a chord with people. So media is pushing it now by saying after an "average" opening of about 50%, the collections are picking up after the news broke out on Abhishek-Aishwarya engagement. [Well, if someone is watching the film just to see the pair together on screen-- and one of them being a terrible misfit in the role-- let them. But I don't see this film etching itself in the viewer's minds.]

Answer to your second question (why did you watch..), this was what I told Sreejitha also, that it is likely that it would be an interesting tale that would hold the audience. You remember, this director made a Nayakan (I watched it in a dubbed Hindi version named "Velu Nayakan" at a cinema hall in Nagpur, and I found it really touching).

Sweta said...

Thanks for the reply.

Mainstream movies, all the arty-farty claims not withstanding, are made with commercial considerations. Right? Most people make movies to earn money!

That's why for example, in Malayalam movies, you see a lot of "normal" (as you would say) Christian characters in the movie, coz there *are* a lot of them in Kerala!!! Commercial consideration.

So when a movie is made or not made with something in mind, it doesnt mean that the moviemaker or the country loves/hates/supports/doesnt support anything.

You also mentioned sometime back about roaming problems in some parts of India. And about how those people are ignored and all that. Its just that the mobile doesn't find it lucrative yet!! It is frustrating, yes, but think from the service provider perspective, why will he go there, if he sees no money due to instability or whatever reasons?

The first thing is we have to get the victim mentality out of our minds. I'm from a minority, and I'm proud to say that I've been treated no differently ever. And no I didnt just get lucky, thats how most of us live. Plus who the hell in this world can stop me from doing what I want to do? We just really have to stop pitying ourselves.

sudeep said...

Sorry, I beg to differ.

The "popular" or "mainstream" movies not only reflect the "popular" beliefs or cash in on them, they also play a major role in manufacturing images and beliefs. I agree, it is not just some films that do it-- the "mass media", the "mainstream" polititians, the rich and the powerful, all play their role.

And considering the particular example you gave, if you take a look at the christian characters in Malayalam films in the last ten years, you will notice that they have mainly become the villains (pitted against the upper-caste Hindu hero who has come up in a dangerously big way in Malayalam cinema in recent years). If you watch Malayalam movies, I can give one example of a Meesamadhavan.

And let me tell you, there are as many as 25% Muslims in the state of Kerala (the Hindutva brigade claims it is more than that) and yet you see them only as bad guys, and would find a hero who would feel humiliated (Devasuram) that he had to sell his land to a Muslim.

And when there is an attempt to make a film like Parzania, it has to go through a long struggle to make it to theatres, and when it finally makes, there is our Bajrang Dal threatening the theatres and distributors.

And the roaming problem-- I don't think it has anything to do with the service provider. As far as I know, it is a security measure imposed by the Government.

Even if I were to agree it is because it is not "lucrative", we will have to admit that it is not "lucrative" or "profitable" for the Govenrment to treat the north-eastern states at par with the rest of India? Then why crib if people hate the "Indians" here?

And yes, it is not profitable to account for the exploitation of our resources. Ooze all the water out of our wells and give it to MNCs. Shut all the schools down in the rural areas, have no hospitals, health care, or even better, shoot all those people.

Why not hand over the governance to the Multinationals officially?

sudeep said...

About Guru, I read that the Mallika Sheravat song has been deleted from the film. So first they thought a Mallika Sheravat would add charm to an otherwise boring fare, and now they realize people are not fools and are finding the song completely out of place? Then they should have deleted Barso re.. first, but I guess they won't dare do that!

My Expression said...

Mani is entirely different from other Directors,you will agree with me. Though its not all like Nayagan, Guru would reach certain kind off people esp Management who inspire to become a sucessfull entrepreneur.Mani always sends a message along with his Hero,else you cant see films like Ayudha Ezhuthu and Kannathil Muthamittal that never reaches all the audience untill its like Thalapathi.

afraid said...

I still dont know what the hero tries to convey, may be money had in mind a postmodern text which while looking from different angles offers different layers of depth in the hero's character. With some extentions and some deep expression added i could see the hero as somebody who dared to rebel his father and to be father in law at an early childhood and flees to independance, then dares to discard symbold of slavery and attempts to achieve self dependance, somebody who is not carried away by the romantic notion of "anti dowry" (?), somebody who knocking the doors to independance finds himself being crushed by the already high class..and had to choose the holes, the gaps, the flaws in the order as a means...and somebody who loves and respect relationships and is capable of love while differing.???any chance?

Arun said...

hmm :-)
Its good and is often required to stop for a moment and feel the pulse of the urban middle class.

Jayesh said...

Sudeep - As Guru would have said - "I only know one thing ... there is only person like me here ... only one Guru."

I loved this movie. Bollywood melodrama and every thing else set aside - the movie for me was inspirational. Hope the feeling lasts for a while. :-)

- Jayesh


"I don't want to walk ... I want to run." - Guru Bhai

Harisankaran said...

Sudeep, when are you going to get tired of the overused crap(a celebrated observation touted by the psuedo,leftist intellectuals and media alike) about the upperclass Hindu hero Vs the minority villian. Okay, there are of course some films that dish out such stuff, but I can give you ten other examples where an uppercast Hindu turns out to be the real villian. You wanna bet?