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But these impressions have dispelled now that Guru has been dubbed and released in Tamil.
Watch Guru for the actors
Having to see Abhishek Bachchan and a whole lot of other actors speaking Tamil while their lips move differently is quite a strain to begin with. Moreover, the story is supposed to be set somewhere in Thirunelveli in southern Tamil Nadu whereas the costumes and the set up resembles western India from where the original Hindi version is based.
This hitch remains alive throughout the movie, successfully depriving the viewer of the real feel.
This time around Mani narrates the story of Guru Nath Desikan (Abhishek Bachchan), a resolute boy from a small village who goes on to become one of the premier industrialists of the country. The journey is characterised by hard work, determination, passion, grit and quite a bit of the gray.
'Entertainment is not a bad word'
Neither his poor family background nor his deterrent father could stop him from going to Turkey where he delivers petrol cans. But soon his intense over-ambitious materialistic urge forces him to quit the job and return to India to start his own business-venture, the only barrier being the lack of finance.
His decision to marry Sujatha (Aishwarya Rai), his best friend's sister, only to get the dowry which he could use as his capital gives the viewer a clear idea of the character very early in the movie. The occasional downhill ride does not bother the extremely motivated profiteer, Guru.
Straight from the Guru's mouth
However, as he runs faster, he kicks up dust. Bribes and scandals became the backdrop to his meteoric rise to glory. He isn't bothered but his near and dear ones do bother. The rift between him and the righteous Nanaji (Mithun Chakraborty), Guru's mentor during his early days in Mumbai and the editor of a newspaper, widens with every stage of development in Guru's life.
Along with Shyam (Madhavan), Nanaji constantly tries to expose the unjust ways of the seemingly grand Guru.
The movie successfully brings out the several facets of the life of Guru. The realism in the evolution of his relationships with people around him shows the distinguished touch of Mani Ratnam.
Abhishek seems to like every bit of his streak in the gray that started with Yuva. While he rules the show, the performance of the cast as a whole is heartening, especially those from Mithunda and Madhavan. Aishwarya gets better in the second half where there is less of an opportunity to flaunt her beauty.
Marvelling over Mallika
Vidya Balan and Manoj Joshi do quite well in their small roles. The effort put in the movie becomes obvious in Abhishek's paunch that appeared and Madhavan's paunch, quite a bit of which disappeared.
The Rajiv Menon-Mani Ratnam duo, that spelt its magic in Bombay, has worked again. With his expertise over the Digital Intermediate grading technique, Rajiv has made the visuals look exemplary. Art director Samir Chanda's contribution in giving the movie the period feel cannot be understated.
The music of A.R.Rahman, though not one of his best albums, adds to the feel, except for the odd abrupt song.
Suriya does a good job lending his voice to Abhishek, but the movie is too conspicuous a dub.
The biggest drawback of the movie is the dubbing. It is quite difficult to digest the fact that half the city of Mumbai speaks Tamil.
The director of a company conducts a whole annual general meeting, full of speeches that would shame the president of America, in Tamil. In the climax, a whole judicial enquiry takes place, which is then followed by a monologue, all in Tamil.
In addition to that, the movie doesn't focus much on the rise of the industrialist itself, as much as on what followed the rise. In fact one might even say that the character of Guru is little too black to be termed gray.
The limit seems to be lost in the concluding reel, when there is an attempt to portray the highly motivated capitalist as a patriotic and messiah and his selfish and illegal profiteering as something very insignificant.
Trying to compare unlawful business tactics to that of Gandhi's rejection for colonial rule and its law was simply outrageous. For his class, Mani Ratnam could have done without such idolising. Given the subject dealt with, that is not expected to strike a chord with the masses, the dubbing in Tamil wasn't completely necessary.
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