Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) is a young Indian dance instructor was wants to make it big in America. But the road to fame is paved with misadventures and Ramu winds up waiting at an Indian Restaurant in New York. When he successfully auditions for Dwain (Michael McKean) of Ramrod Productions to star opposite Sharonna (Heather Graham), he is unaware that he has in fact, signed to work in an adult movie. In the meantime, he is fired from his job at the restaurant, but finds himself re-hired, when he saves the day for his caterer boss and fills in for the hired spiritual guru to entertain New Age socialite Lexi (Marisa Tomei) at her birthday dinner. Lexi is smitten and Ramu enlists Sharonna’s help to enlighten him on all matters sexual.
Review By Andrew L. Urban:
A fish out of water story with quirky attachments, The Guru begins with great zest and a familiar set up given fresh life: young man from impoverished country (this time India) aims to find fame and fortune in America, home of the rich and satisfied. As one character remarks, though, it’s called the American dream because it’s only there when you’re asleep. From this oft-used premise, the film builds a fresh fantasy about the young man’s journey, in which he accidentally jostles himself into a position of celebrity as a sex guru – fake, of course. Jimi Mistry is truly effective and Heather Graham highly enjoyable, plus the film provides ample simple pleasures, loads of laughs and would have danced off into the brilliant sunset if it didn’t get bogged down in moralising and romantic ho-hummery. Frothy and funky but flawed, The Guru gives you a good time – just don’t expect Nirvana.
Review by Louise Keller:
A fun frolic of the frivolous kind, The Guru is a colourful carpet ride that cavorts with culture and concoctions of the heart. Pure escapism with plenty of energy and laughs from its inventive script, this is the tale of an ambitious dance teacher whose eyes sparkle with John Travolta fever yearning for the stardom of the Stars and Stripes variety. Echoing resonances from American Desi, this Bollywood goes to Hollywood tale has the dash and splash of Strictly Ballroom and the sweet heart of Bend It Like Beckham. We start in a suburban New Delhi dance class for housewives, venture into New York porn movies studios (where you ‘get hard or get going’), before landing on stage as a self-proclaimed spiritualist sexpert, guiding the masses like a traffic light at a busy intersection. Jimi Mistry has oodles of appeal, gliding easily from confident charmer to vulnerable victim, while Heather Graham is ravishing as the porn star, cum teacher, cum Hindi Princess cum bride-to-be. There are many memorable moments and I guarantee you will never again think of Billy Joel’s song ‘Just the Way You Are’ without chuckling. You might even find your body shaking! Mistry and Graham have great chemistry and form an irresistible yin and yan east/west style. All the cast is excellent and Marisa Tomei is appealing as the poor-little-rich girl intent on claiming anyone’s spirituality as her security blanket. As Ramu says ‘Dancing is like love: you need to move your feet to the beat of your heart’ and in this happy lollypop on a stick, our hearts are beaming from ear to ear. I loved every minute of The Guru – it’s a vibrant charmer that dazzles and delights from start to finish.
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Andrew L. Urban meets HEATHER GRAHAM
GURU, THE (M)
CAST: Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Jimi Mistry, Christine Baranski, Michael McKean, Malachy McCourt, Rob Morrow, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Emil Marwa
PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Michael London
DIRECTOR: Daisy Von Scherler Mayer
SCRIPT: Tracey Jackson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John de Borman B.S.C.
EDITOR: Bruce Green
MUSIC: David Carbonara
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robin Standefer
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 14, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: March 26, 2003 (also on DVD)