The Guru Movie Review

Heather Graham was meant for adult films. Gorgeous, sleek, and undeniably sexy, she can't act a lick but belongs scantily clad and in front of the camera. Donning skates and Daisy Dukes, she could convincingly take on any man off the streets as Rollergirl in Boogie Nights. This time around, in The Guru, directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (Party Girl), her porn star character instructs us on how to make passionate love to the rhythm of none other than Billy Joel, as her methods of dealing with the mental challenges of porn become sexual healing for a deprived nation.

The messenger of the porn star's wisdom is Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry), a dance instructor from Delhi, who longs to "live the American dream." He's in for a rude awakening upon arriving in the states, but his resolve "never to work for a salary" pushes him to audition to be a star - even if it's in porn. To his dismay, with all the folks holding coffee and shining bright lights, he can't seem to get it up, not even for Heather Graham posing as a love-starved Senator willing to bang any savage on her environmentally protected beach.

Drowning his sorrows, he meets up with his friends who need him to replace a drunken guru at a catering gig. He amazingly charms the crowd of Manhattan aristocrats with his rendition of the macarena-with-a-turban, and spoiled birthday girl Marisa Tomei is entranced with his wisdom. All he'd done was dance a little jig and pass on what porn star Graham taught him earlier in the day about his inability to be naked in front of the camera. "Think of your body as your mask to the world," she whispered in his ear, to help quell his fears.

Soon Tomei and Gupta are an item, and she is scheduling appointments with wealthy clients for his sexual counseling. With book deals and large venues in the works, The Guru has the world fooled, but his inspiration comes from weekly tutorials with his secret mentor, who happens to be a porn star, and more, he's falling in love with her. Confusion leads to mayhem when Graham, who has attempted to hide her porn star status from her virginal fiancée, decides to get married.

The Guru's simplicity yields just enough mirth for it to be fun without crossing into the realm of serious drama. After all, it's a musical fairytale, a lighthearted comedy that actually takes some rare risks. The film's maverick technique lies in its fusion of film cultures, both Indian and American, and the interplay of the two genres. Scenes of Grease are juxtaposed with clips of Bollywood classics, and both Graham and Tomei have musical numbers with lip-synched Hindi songs dubbed over choreographed dance scenes complete with elaborate costumes and flailing limbs.

Graham on several occasions threatens to jeopardize the jovial tone with a case of overacting, as she pretends to be a substitute teacher to her fiancée, but fortunately she is primarily relegated to porn star and sex therapist, two roles she pulls off fabulously. If you look at the movie as a Bollywood musical, then Mistry's B+ performance filled with over-exaggerations seems almost appropriate. His bleak attempt at being a "real Guru" in order to convince Marisa Tomei that she needs to follow her own path in life puts him on an even par with Graham's level - he needs to stick to slapstick, she to sex.

He's the one that he wants.


Comments

The Guru Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 2003

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