ninth symphony films - movie reviews

The Guru (2003)

DIRECTOR  -  daisy von scherler mayer

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  94 minutes

RELEASED  -  31 january 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the guru

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $11,000,000
the guru - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the guru at

buy the dvd from the guru at

a dance teacher who emigrates from india to new york with dreams of being the next john travolta, but finds himself branded as the "guru of sex."

was originally titled, "the guru of sex."


picture from the guru

picture from the guru

picture from the guru


two out of four possible stars

Although the humor misses the mark a few times, much of the comedy in The Guru is funny nonetheless and should be entertaining for audiences interested in the genre. Where the movie sometimes falters is that it doesn't always follow its jokes with a proper pay-off. And a few of the jokes occur quite a few times and start to become repetitive. Probably the best example is the constant mispronunciation of "Ramu Gupta's" name. Called by names such as "Rami," and "Raamee," even the people who form friendships with him (who aren't Indian) mess up his name late into the film.

The joke was just recycled too often. And certain characters seemed to repeat the same sort of jokes too often as well. For example, Michael McKean, who plays "Dwain" the pornography producer and director, has a one-liner in every scene concerning the ethnicity of Ramu Gupta. He mistakes Ramu for being an Indian from America, instead of from India. And while this mistake gets a laugh the first time it is uttered, it doesn't when he repeats it. Perhaps if the script had gone for some additional variety in its jokes, the film as a whole would have seemed tighter.

But when, as an audience member, you start to recognize a joke because it has been said before, that doesn't bode well for the screenwriter's reputation. But Tracey Jackson, a newcomer to screenwriting, hasn't completely destroyed her/his (I do not know this screenwriter's gender) reputation. Because there are several scenes in the film which are funny. And though a lot of them pop up in the movie trailer (ostensibly to get you into the theater to see the film), the actors perform well their jokes and seem to get as much as possible out of the dialogue.

But barring further insults to the screenwriter, the film's reliance on sexually tinted comedy and the physical machinations of its characters makes sure that the film is somewhat more mature in nature than the preview might have you believe. While it is about sex, the blatant sexuality will catch some viewers off guard if they are looking for a more innocent romantic comedy to see. With the crass element of pornography included in the film though, this movie might be a better date movie than a stereo-typical romantic comedy, because males in the audience will have something to laugh at as well.

Regarding the performances in the film, which typically take center stage in a romantic comedy, each actor should be proud of his or her performance. Though the supporting roles of Ramu Gupta's friends warrant special attention since many of the most successful one-liners come from this trio of poor studio apartment roommates. In the lead role, Jimi Mistry gives a heartfelt and comedic performance as Ramu, though his English accent sometimes does away with the Indian slant to his dialogue. But this shouldn't be noticeable unless an audience member has prior knowledge of Mistry's background.

Supporting female roles (both love interests for Mistry), played by Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei (both of whom are on the cast list for the forthcoming Anger Management) have nice wardrobes, but don't always have the most intelligent things to say. Or the funniest. Given that this is a romantic comedy, both of their roles should have included more jokes. Because when it was time to get serious, neither of their performances rang true. Like when Heather Graham bursts into tears while talking with Ramu about her pornography career. Her tears are so unexpected, that it's obvious the movie doesn't set itself up for these sort of emotions.

It wouldn't be far off the mark to suggest that Heather's "tears" look to have been induced by some sort of artificial means. But perhaps examining this picture's serious moments is a futile exercise. After all, the Bollywood style ending to the film (mixed with a dash of Grease) was probably created as it was because the film's roots are in comedy, rather than drama. And though there are some repetitive moments in the comedic sequences, the jokes are usually quite funny. Insulting Indians and their accents and their propensity to move to America and drive cabs will probably always draw a few laughs. And on a last note, the few "Bollywood" sequences (mimicking Indian spectacles) really add a lot of color and energy to the film. Perhaps there should have been more of them.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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