The Guru (2002) / Comedy-Romance
aka The Guru of Sex
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual content, including dialogue, and for language
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Christine Baranski, Rob Morrow, Michael McKean, Emil Marwa, Ajay Naidu
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Screenplay: Tracey Jackson
Review published August 30, 2002
Many readers may be completely unaware of the Indian cinema many have dubbed "Bollywood" because of the prolific but unique types of movies coming from that region. They are musicals which usually have a storyline that may not be altogether interesting, but when the singing and dancing occur, which is often, the film becomes a lot of fun. The Guru is unique because it's one of the first Western films to have major influence from the Bollywood scene, and the result? Like its brethren out East, it's a film that has a rather flimsy storyline that has its best moments during the musical numbers.
Jimi Mistry (Ella Enchanted, Touch of Pink) plays Ramu, a dance teacher in England who travels to America seeking fame and fortune. What he finds is a difficult time getting into the entertainment industry; the only job he seems to be able to land is as an actor in a porn flick. Unfortunately, Ramu has a hard time rising to the occasion and asks porn star Sharonna (Graham, Bowfinger) for help in overcoming his fears in the performance department. By a fluke, he is helping out at a party for a guru and has to pass himself off in his place when he passes out, using some of the instruction he has learned from Sharonna to open up the American rich to the ways of lovemaking. He is instantly hailed as the Sex Guru, and people quickly sign up to hear his pearls of wisdom, not knowing all along he is a fraud parroting another's advice, and soon becomes the nation's latest sensation.
The Guru isn't a great film by any stretch, but some viewers may be content with the amiable nature and fun music pieces to care that it lacks a decent story. The cast is energetic and colorful, with Jimi Mistry showing that the void in prominent actors of Indian descent may not be around for long with an amusing portrayal of Ramu. The musical numbers are handled nicely and may actually increase interest in real Bollywood productions for some more colorful singing and dancing. Where the film fails is on the script level, which settles for contrived comedy, a no-surprise storyline, and jokes about vapid New York socialites that are as tired as the sexual innuendo that permeates the bulk of the humor.
The Guru is nothing special, and, with the exception of the references to Indian culture throughout, it's nothing you haven't seen before. Fans of the stars and people with modest thresholds for entertainment may find it good enough as a momentary diversion, but most others will likely find boredom on many stretches when the jokes fizzle repeatedly. Maybe there's a good reason to supplant bad story with good musical numbers whenever possible.
©2002 Vince Leo