Starcast: Venkatesh, Ritika Singh, Nassar, Mutaz Sorcar, Zair Hussain and Raghu Babu.
Screenplay & Direction: Sudha Kongara Prasad
Music Composed by Sathosh Narayanan
Cinematography by K A Sakthivel
Edited by Sathish Suriya
Censor Certificate: U & Runtime: 116.30 Minutes
Upon my arrival into the boxing ring, Guru seemed to be adrift with its inner conflicts. After all, boxing is a popular sports genre that has generated classics like Rocky, Raging Bull to the recent likes like Million Dollar Baby and The Fighter. One expects something novel through sports dramas with some interesting insights into the genre. But Guru follows a particular set sports formula and predictable tale featuring a fist friendly underdog, a baffling coach, a sexist head of women’s boxing community playing politics, subversion, jealousy, corruption, match fixing and many more. All of this could have been a clap worthy heart pounding effort, but the director and team misses the ship by a mile.
“Indian Boxing nunchi politics thesesthe, galli galli ki oka champion dorukuthadu”
Story wise Aditya [Venkatesh Daggubati] had a dream to win the boxing GOLD for India. Instead, he yenned in a ephialtes for a decade after his Olympic birth was lost to another boxer, due to poli-tricks. Shattered Aditya turns his life to cynical destruction & depression. Twenty years later, he is a coach for the Women’s boxing team but is very frustrated with the partisanship in selections of boxers. Due to this rift with the association head Dev Khatri [Zakir Hussain], Aditya is falsely charged with Sexual harassment and demoted to Vishakapatnam. Despite poor infrastructure, Aditya manages to find talent in a road side vegetable vendor Rameshwari aka. Ramudu (Ritika Singh), who he notices while knocking the judges during a regional boxing tournament. So begins a beautiful partnership between a man who imposes his love for sport on others and a girl who lives on her own terms, travelling in unison towards a beautiful dream.
Story claims to be truly inspired by ‘non-fictional’ events do transcend into a known path (Chak De India!, Mary Kom..) and further and further into an abyss of uninteresting series of events till pre-climax. Suddenly the final events triggered by coaches followed makes the movie more interesting towards the finale. This sort of writing by Sudha, R Madhavan and Sunanda doesn’t inspire many to write a sports drama or thing of the genre as a viable classic movie option. They could have done much much much more to the characters that were highly interesting and also unusual. When the tough exterior of both the characters break out rather than feeling for them you turn obnoxious as an audience member as you feel its following the fault ridden path like many other drams. All said and done, we need to appreciate the writers for coming up with good characters that were laudable at least in principle. Can you please explain to me what is the reason, why should a beast Madhavan was changed to mellowed Venkatesh?
The narration one-on-one the first lesson you learn always try to be logical atleast with the characters journey, however illogical your scenes might be the characters logic should match up with the current theme of the story. Sudha Kongara, being a protégé of Mani Rathnam does bring in his visual sense into the narration but fails to capture his strong grip on characters and their behavior. It is easy to fall for the temptation of being a creator as you can be the monarch who decides the life line and behavior of the characters. We should always remember “With great power, comes great responsibility”, so when you are writing a script your great power lies in creating beautiful situations and logical conclusions, not in taking illogical shortcuts for satisfactory outcomes.
Visual brilliance and storytelling are turn-ons in any movie for any average moviegoer. Sudha understands this with the help of Shaktivel the cinematographer. She creates an ambiance that suits the boxing drama but fails in creating an interest about the characters journey half way through as suddenly, the heroine’s character turns into a goo-eyed teenager without proper explanation. What is the necessity for the story to take unwanted romantic angle trying to force it down into the throats of audience, when the coach doesn’t feel the same or situations doesn’t reflect the same. Editing by Sathish Surya is adequate for the movie, but transition between the scenes could have been better. Music by Santhosh Narayan is good, but the translated lyrics reduces the impact. In fact even the dialogues by Harshavardhan, who otherwise is a very capable “Telugu writer” reduced to translating Hindi/Tamil dialogues of the director. The punch normally associated with Harsha and Ramjo was deeply missed.
Venkatesh Daggubati is a proven actor and doesn’t need to resort to his own clichés to pull off a character. Here the actor comes across constantly trying to not fall for his usual tropes at the same time, he also forgets that he has done similar kind of roles in Dharma Chakram, Ganesh and Prema. Here he could have eased it through rather resorting to being wooden at times. Ritika Singh is surprisingly good and entertains in parts by imitating Pawan Kalyan. A boxer and MMA fighter, she runs the gantlet of emotions, throughout the film; thanks to a well written script. They are well supported by Nassar, Mumtaz Sorcar, Zakir Hussain and Tanikella Bharini.
Based on true life incidents of Arjuna Awardee Boxer ‘Laishram Saritha Devi’, the movie does offer some challenges to Telugu film makers, who quite accustomed to Masala entertainer to come up with something original and different. Had Sudha and writers tried to be even more original, and avoided some usual tropes the movie would have been a classic to remember. Atleast it gives hope to new generation writers and directors from Telugu to come out from the usual blockbuster entertainment that has already become a yesteryear tasteless dry fruit. In the movie, a character says “Ne bulb, velagadaniki, na generator pagalala” don’t you think this fits in today’s scenario for big disasters. Fixated to go both commercial and bankable route the Guru team missed a point to create something sensational with such a popular actor by their side. All in all, Guru is an attempt that lets you run to a Guru (Korean, European and World Cinema) for new inspirations.