November 29, 2002 
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Jimi Mistry
Loads of laughs, little philosophy. The Guru's got a cool formula

Anita Bora

It's a deadly combination, comedy and sex. An Indian guru spouting philosophy, a kooky woman in search of her spiritual self and another one who is using porn movies to earn enough money for her dream wedding.

The guru has sex with the kooky woman, but falls in love with the porn star. The kooky woman finally finds what she is looking for within herself.

And the porn star finds that her fiance who acts like he is a religious God-fearing man is actually hiding his own secrets.

Contrary to what you are thinking, the plot is not all that twisted. It is quite simple and thankfully so, since the comedy, the 'Indian' jokes and the Bollywood-inspired dance scenes with Western actors should be enough to keep you occupied for an hour and a half.

Of course, it might take a while to remind yourself that you are watching an English movie, with Marisa Tomei doing the jhatkas, and Heather Graham doing a little Hindi dance sequence a la Miss Rai. And a whole lot of stiff white folk, in their black designer gowns and suits, flailing their hands wildly and moving to the catchy beat of Chori chori hum gori se pyaar karenge makes for rather entertaining fare.

Before I get carried away, the movie is about Ramu Chandra Gupta, a dance teacher (Jimi Mistry) who leaves India in search of the American dream. His cynical friend, a waiter, tells him that the dream doesn't exist. That's why it's called a dream!
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Ramu is determined to become a Hollywood star. He auditions for a part in a movie. On the sets, he realises what he has gotten into, a porn flick! There is, however, a surprise in store when the movie's leading lady Sherrona (Heather Graham), helps him get over his nerves in a scene where he 'can't' get it up!

He also discovers that Sherrona is on the verge of marrying her boyfriend who does not know of her actual profession. Meanwhile, Ramu goes to help out at a party being held for Lexi (Marisa Tomei), by her mother. Lexi is a woman who is into spirituality and trying hard to find herself.

Her mother (Christine Baranski) organises an Indian guru as a special surprise. But the guru pops a bigger surprise when he has a little too much too drink and passes out on the floor. That leaves the organisers in a fix. And they hit on a plan to have someone stand in his place to save face. That is none other than Ramu.

From here, there is no looking back for Ramu, who spouts the philosophy that Sherrona imparted to him. He finds people lapping it up.

Ramu then convinces Sherrona to take him on as a pupil. She has one condition: her 'wisdom' should not go out to anyone else. Out of desperation, Ramu agrees. He uses the lessons and, along with Lexi (who wants to help humanity), finds a steady steam of clients willing to listen to his thoughts on love, life and sex.

Of course, the charade cannot continue for too long. Ramu, meanwhile, has reached the heights of success --- television shows, a broadway appearance. He even drives a Mercedes with the number plate GURU-SX. But has he really arrived?

A still from The Guru Fame, Ramu discovers, comes with a price and now he must choose between newfound fame and his love for the beautiful Sharonna. But is it too late?

Probably not too hard to figure out. Torn between guilt and acting as a self-assured know-it-all, Mistry, on the whole, makes for quite an endearing, if not totally believable, guru. Heather Graham is too nice to be a porn star but plays her role quite effortlessly. She looks quite good as a whip-carrying pornstar too. Marisa Tomei, known for her offbeat roles, is sufficiently scatterbrained to give up her penthouse apartment so she can experience real life, in the Queens (in New York)!

Some scenes like Jimi's audition for the porn movie, his blustering entry into guru speak, are memorable. Despite the guru's presence, don't expect a deep philosophical stuff.

Take the climax, as Ramu's friend tells him, "You can't just stop a wedding and steal the bride!"

Ramu responds: "Sure I can! Don't you watch American movies? It happens all the time."

The screenplay, directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (Party Girl, Madeline) is fast-paced, laced with some funny one-liners and moments (mainly about sex and organs) so you don't really notice time pass by. The music keeps tempo of the movie, so when you walk out of the hall, you are still humming, Chori chori hum gori se pyaar karenge...

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