The Guru Review
By Shawn McKenzie 02/14/2003
You know, any reference to “The Simpsons” usually hooks me in...but after I saw The Guru, I have come to realize that I shouldn’t be so easily swayed by pop culture references.
Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) is a young Indian dance instructor who is captivated by American entertainment success. Growing up in India, he preferred watching the American musicals like Grease rather than India’s version of Broadway. When he grows up, he decides to go after the “American Dream.” He hears about the success his cousin Vijay (Emil Marwa) has had in America and decides to follow him there. He heard Vijay had a New York penthouse, a red Mercedes, and non-stop women coming over. When Ramu gets to New York, he discovers that his cousin had been lying about everything. Vijay is living in a flat above a theater with his friends Amit (Raahul Singh) and Sanjay (Ajay Naidu.) Ramu ends up working as a waiter at an Indian restaurant (a job he quickly loses after going off on a customer) and going to any audition that he can find. One day he goes on an audition for a part in a movie being made by Ramrod Productions. The director, Dwain (Michael McKean) likes his look and attitude and casts him to be in the movie. What he doesn’t know at the time is that the movie he has just been cast in is a porno. He decides to go for it, but his stagefright turns into performance anxiety, despite some good sexual advice from his co-star Sharonna (Heather Graham.) He loses that job, but becomes suddenly fascinated by Sharonna. Since he is once again unemployed, he goes to a birthday party being catered by his former Indian restaurant boss, Rasphal (Sanjeev Bhaskar), for New Age therapy-crazed rich girl Lexi (Marisa Tomei.) Lexi’s uptight parents, Chantal (Christine Baranski) and Edwin (Ronald Guttman), are holding the party for her. Ramu wanted to go there to try to convince Rasphal to give him his job back, but he ends up inadvertently replacing a passed-out drunk Swami Bu (Ajay Mehta) as the guru for the party. Since the guru has to “enlighten” the crowd, the only words of wisdom he could think of were the words that Sharonna told him at the porno shoot. The crowd buys it, and he fascinates Lexi, who immediately markets him as The Guru of sex. Needing more “wisdom,” he pays Sharonna for more advice and techniques on sex, making her think that he is using them to help him advance in the porn world. She needs the extra money, because she wants to pay for her marriage to Rusty (Dash Mihok), a religious fireman who thinks she is a substitute schoolteacher. As Ramu becomes another Deepak Chopra of sex, he starts falling for his instructor, and she starts falling for him.
What is the “Simpsons” reference that I am referring to in the movie? If you saw the trailer, you saw Vijay ask Ramu if he could think of any Indian actors who had made it big in America, and Sanjay mentions “that guy on ‘The Simpsons’” (referring to Apu obviously.) Unfortunately, that was one of the best lines in this otherwise way too goofy of a movie.
I realize that they were trying to combine American musicals like Grease with Bollywood-type Indian movies, but it just didn’t work for me. The movie didn’t know when to be a musical and when to be a regular comedy. Misplaced dance numbers were all over this flick. Mistry is an appealing lead, and I look forward to seeing his future work, but the other leads didn’t do much for me. Tomei was exceedingly over the top with her performance, and as hot as Graham is, she continues to under-act.
I did laugh many times while watching The Guru, but not enough to give it high kudos. While it is funnier than some of the comedies I’ve seen this year, I don’t highly recommend it. The dance numbers and misdirection was much too silly for me (and not in a good way.) Check it out when it comes to DVD. Maybe by that time I will understand in what direction they intended to go. Nah, I’d rather watch my first season box of “The Simpsons” again.
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