The Guru
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
unleash the tiger within There's a disarming charm about this film that lets us overlook its formulaic plot and just enjoy the combination of goofy comedy and romance. Ramu (Mistry) is a young Indian dance teacher who grew up on musicals from both Bollywood and Hollywood, and when he gets a chance to go to New York to make his fortune, he jumps. But things aren't so easy, and when he finally lands an acting role he's a bit shocked to find he's about to appear in a porn film. His costar Sharonna (Graham) helps him relax, and he puts her wisdom to use when he's mistaken for a guru at a society party given by spiritual seeker Lexi (Tomei). Before he knows it, Ramu is the hottest thing in town, the Guru of Sex!

Despite the silly storyline, the script is genuinely well-written, with very funny dialog and several hilarious scenes that mix Bollywood excess with American pop culture (most memorably, "You're the One that I Want" from Grease and Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are"). This blending of east and west is sublimely silly and so much fun to watch--and tap along with--that the film overcomes its shortcomings. It also helps that the cast is very good; Mistry is charming in the central role, with Graham and Tomei filling the female leads perfectly. Meanwhile, expert scene-stealers abound (Baranski as Lexi's edgy mum, McKean as a porn filmmaker, Morrow as a slippery agent, Mihok as Sharonna's repressed fiance, Marwa as Ramu's capitalist-embracing cousin). By the time the plot kicks in during the final act, we are already won over. All the usual rom-com cliches are here--doing the right thing, a last-gasp attempt to get the girl, the race to the church--but the filmmakers continually undercut the routine with knowing dialog and then a big finale musical number that leaves a huge grin on our faces.

cert 15 adult themes, language 24.Jun.02

dir Daisy von Scherler Mayer
scr Tracey Jackson
with Jimi Mistry, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Emil Marwa, Christine Baranski, Michael McKean, Rob Morrow, Dash Mihok, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Bobby Cannavale, Malachy McCourt, Anita Gillette
release UK 23.Aug.02; US Oct.02
02/US 1h30

Meditate on it. Ramu helps Lexi find her spiritual centre (Mistry and Tomei)...

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall