Director: Mani Ratnam
Story: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, R. Madhavan
Music: A. R. Rahman
Time: 162 minutes
Bottom-line: A major success, with some minor flaws
Gurukant Desai hails from Idhar, a small village in Gujarat, but dreams of setting up his own business in Mumbai. After he returns from Turkey, he marries Sujatha for getting the dowry and arrives in Mumbai to start his business. This film chronicles the obstacles he meets, his subsequent rise and the huge backlash he receives when it is revealed that he used unethical means to rise in the business circuit.
Mani Ratnam’s drama, loosely based on the life of Dhirubai Ambani – a business tycoon and the founder of Reliance industries – Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles, with R. Madhavan, Vidya Balan and Mithun Chakraborty in the supporting roles. A major critical and commercial success, the film is known for its direction and musical score.
1951, Gujarat: A young boy, Gurukant Desai dreams of making it big in future. Despite his father’s discouragement, he does not give up. An adult Teacher(Bachchan) goes to Turkey to enter the spice trade, but soon comes back to India with the idea of starting his own business. He marries Sujatha (Rai) because of the dowry she brings him. Along with her brother, Sujatha and Guru go to Bombay to start a market in polyester, and Guru establishes his own film, “Shakti Corporation”.
As Guru’s business expands, Manik Dasgupta (Chakraborty) – publisher of a newspaper, and a well-wisher of Guru – calls reporter Shyam Saxena (Madhavan) to investigate Guru’s business. Shyam quickly finds out that Guru has been smuggling machines and manipulates stocks in the relentless pursuit of profit. Shyam and Dasgupta plan to expose Guru, who, by this time, is also a family man. How Guru’s life goes on is what the film is about.
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai have both acted really well, the former also surprising me a little. From the energetic, determined lad to the successful family man to the paralysed “criminal” on the verge of losing everything, Abhishek Bachchan rises to the occasion and delivers every time. Of course, the only flaw is that he should improve on his dance steps a little! Rai plays the quiet, loyal wife, taking her husband’s side come hell or high water, and what a performance it is!
Madhavan and Chakraborty have also done well. Vidya Balan plays a small role as Dasgupta’s granddaughter and later, Shyam’s wife – Meenu. I still don’t understand the significance of her role, apart from being responsible for a lot of sentimental moments which we could do well without. It seems to be one of Ratnam’s grander films, with a lot of detail given to the sets and costumes. From period settings to song sequences, the visual appearance is wonderful.
The film also finds A. R. Rahman in full form, giving us beautiful songs like Tere Bina and Aye Hairathe. The camerawork is also another highlight, especially the technique of shooting continuously in 360 degrees – also used a lot in Iruvar.
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