Friday, November 24, 2006

GURU- Movie Review

: Guru
Director: Maniratnam
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, R.Madhavan, Vidya
Balan, Mithun Chakraborty

Music: A.R.Rahman
: Madras Talkies

Ooh I can't wait to get typing this one!!!

The opening frame defies all Maniratnam conventions, showing a teary eyed Sujata( Aishwarya Rai) opening the door. A.R.Rahman croons "dham dara" as a perspirating Manikdas(Mithun Chakraborthy) barges in breathing profusely. Sujatha immediately closes the door shut, as the camera zooms outside their house, which by now we know isn't more than a chawl in a crowded Mumbai street.

Guru is not a movie about one great man, as many touted it to be. It is about many men..and women. And what they make out of life, and how their reactions to the actions of Guru(Abhiskek Bachchan) are. A.R.Rahman's music raised quite a few expectations from the movie, and Maniratnam lives up, rather makes us live up to his expectations of a movie-goer. Guru excels most contemporary Bollywood movies, in technique, narrative and overall presentation. It easily enters the league of Iruvar or Mouna Raagam.

The movie flashes back and forth a la Ayudha Ezhuthu ( Yuva) and makes one wonder if Maniratnam has become a big time fan of Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu ( Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel). It takes us to a teenage Gurukant Desai's Village, supposedly in Gujrat, but looks more like somewhere in Tamil Nadu. While other boys of his age indulge in cricket, movies, and girls, Guru is busy reading newspapers, especially business columns and stocks. Enter Mallika Sherawat, an actress on an outdoor shoot, in a much hyped cameo. One song later, she has befriended the drooling local boys. Fate gets Guru in a conversation with Mallika about the "big city", the money it has to give, and the fame it can bring. Guru is all set to go to Bombay.

What Mallika hasn't told Gurukanth is that to survive in this city, you need to learn to lie and to give up values your parents taught you to be good. The next half hour progresses in typical Maniratnam style, switching between Guru's( as he later comes to be respectfully known) struggle to come up, and Sujatha's solitary struggle in accepting this mercurial man as her husband. Aishwarya's acting is OK. Guru's acquaintance of Nanaji( Manikdas) and their subsequent frendship is very natural, and the director deserves a shot in the arm for ensuring a strong dialogue department, lacking in his earlier Hindi venture Dil Se.

Madhavan shows why he is called a "director's actor". As Shyam Saxena, Guru's protege initially, and later his worst rival, Maddy fits in the character to the tee. His transformation from a no-good-so-and-so to an inspired businessman to a betrayed friend leaves us wondering why this actor is not celebrated by the industry! Wheelchair bound Meenu(Vidya Balan) has a small, but integral role, as Shyam's wife and Manikdas' foster daughter. Her respect for the man she calls "Guru" remains undeterred despite her husband's rivalry with him. Only Maniratnam can create a subtle humorous tinge- and pull it off with finesse- in what are otherwise explosive scenes between Guru and Shyam. What unfolds hereafter is the rest of the movie.

Don't expect an O.Henry twist to the tale in the climax. Guru is a film that depicts life, and shows that nobody is always right or always wrong. Rather, it shows that everybody is right and everyone makes mistakes. The movie is not slow, contrary to one's general expectations of a biopic. The direction is absolute virtuso ! A.R.Rahman's music plays an important role in the movie. For those who are wondering what fate holds for Baazi Laga and Ek Lo Ek Muft, well, the former has a surprise in store.. The latter is like any other happy "bhaang" song, with all the Gujju elements, Dandiya included.

The sepia tone convinces the viewer of the period in which it is set. Rajiv Menon's work is commendable. Sabu Cyril's art direction is good, and stands out in the Tere Bina song. Sreekar Prasad, Mani's nowadays-constant editor ensures you are seated properly throughout, if not at the edge of your seat. As always, technical excellence, a strong storyline, well defined characterisation and enough commercial elements make Guru appeal to all audiences.

Overall a masterpiece from the Guru of filmdom!!!

Rating: 8.9/10


Kannathil Muthamittal:

Ayudha Ezhuthu:



Mauna Raagam: 8.9/10

PS: You are wondering how I got to see the film, and are desperate to see it yourself right? Well, I haven't seen the film yet, just practising my writing skills, so chill!

Oooh I can't wait!! :D


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Music Review: GURU

I'll cut the crap about the wait being so long and Guru finally arriving. Here's my take:

Barso Re

Barso Re is good, especially the rhythm. Shreya Ghosal is her usual mellifuous self in this song. She sounds a bit South Indian in the song. I wonder whether to attribute this to the nature of the song itself or to the fact that Shreya's been pretty busy singing down South! The Gujrati interlude by Uday Muzumdar adds the Rahman stamp.

Tere Bina

To put it simply: Aural Ambrosia!
Rahman gets everything right in this song, be it his awesome swaras or Chinmayi's aalap, or the excellent tabla and backing vocals by Messrs Qadir and Murtuza. This is by far the best show of vocal skill and range by Rahman. Chinmayi deserves credit here, for she offers something totally different from the Kannathil.. song. Yes this song left me lachrymose the first time I heard it.

Ek lo ek muft

This song is waiting to grow on me. But the catchy rhythm and overall "bhaang" mood the song creates,coupled with Maniratnam's picturisation should keep the song on the charts for long. But I do feel Bappida goes a little overboard trying to sound different. The dandiya beats in the middle lend the "Gujju" touch to this song. I still can't believe the female voice is Chitra's ! Has there been some mistake in printing the credits??

Mayya Mayya

Excellent rhythm, strings and just the right amount of nose by Maryem Toller make this song sound genuinely "Arabic style". As if we asked for more we have the walide-walide-charpar-barse bit that only Rahman can think of ! And again where is Chinmayi??

Ay Hairathe

With Rahman its always the expect-the-unexpected. More or less a Ghazal, what you think is a harmonium accompanying the tabla turns out to be an accordion, and what a combination ! Hariharan sings a melody for ARR after ages and doesn't disappoint. Alka Yagnik supports him ably throughout the song. Yes, we have the dum-dara part sung by Rahman here again, and it blends beautifully with the song. Towards the end the chord progressions when Hari sings "Ay Hairathe" are out of the world ! Overall full marks to this song.

Baazi Laga

I loved the retro-latin feel in this song. Excellent guitaring and chord-progression. The accordion speaks again as does the piano interlude in the middle. Udit Narayan sings in his trademark style. Madhusree is good, but why did ARR have to use a vocal gapper on her voice ? Again, picturisation should do the trick with this one.

Jaage Hain

Chitra is at her best. Rahman is always at his best, and this song stands testimony to his musical knowledge. Never heard him sing so low ! The pizzicato style rhythm and bass cello are excellent and the chorus is aptly used. Did ARR do this song when he was doing Bose?? Ladies and gentlemen, we have an anthem here !

Overall an excellent offering from the legend, with no RDB hangover whatsoever. I must mention here ARR's habit of giving credit to everyone involved in a song be it additional vocalists, sound programmers or dialect coaches!! You rock!!

Rating: 8/10

7.5- Rang De Basanti
8.5- Tehzeeb
9.0- Bose-the Forgotten music
9.5- Water
9.5- Lagaan
9.9- Vande Mataram
10- I'm still waitin' :D

Disclaimer: The stuff written here is purely MY opinion. You are encouraged to express yours as well. And if you don't agree with the rating, this space for changes as the songs grow :)