Guru – Movie Review

Guru is a remake of the bilingual irudi suTTru (Tamil)/ saalaa Khadoos (Hindi). It was heard that the film was planned as a trilingual but the Telugu version had to wait, but it is not true. However, when the Telugu version was made later, reportedly reshooting only those parts that involves Telugu actors in the film. The original makers were duly acknowledged in the Telugu version.

Guru is the story of a duty-minded, acerbic-toned boxing coach, Adithya Rao. He has made enough bad name due to his temperament, and gets transferred from Hisar to Vishakhapatnam. At a place where there are no good facilities for boxing, Adi must work from scratch, and with scrap. That’s where he finds Rameshwari, a “coolie girl” and vegetable vendor from the slums who has the tenacity to become a boxer. How his harsh training mode and her easy-going attitude towards life and boxing collide and how the story finds its way through a stream of emotions going up and down is worth seeing.

Sudha Kongara as the director handled the script very ably. She had, of course, done that already with this same script in Tamil and Hindi. Screenplay (also by Sudha Kongara, with additional screenplay by Madhavan!) is commendable and smooth for the most part of the film. Dialogues by Harshavardhan are worth mentioning too. While some of the dialogues including situational comedy had to be translated from the original, he has shown his mettle in other scenes and breathed some fresh air and nativity. The visual experience is good in general but the boxing matches could have benefited more from better camera angles. Music is just okay, and the Telugu lyrics by Bhaskarabhatla, Ramajogaiah Sastry, and Shreemani are worthy of a mention. However, the “rawness” in the playback singers’ voice seems to have more harm than benefit to every song in the film. Editing is appreciable too.

Venkatesh places himself comfortably into the role of the driven yet sullen coach. His histrionics seem well-balanced and controlled, as expected of a coach of such repute and experience, though he is outright rude at times when he need not be. A star of his stature going for such a makeover is, sadly, rare in Telugu filmdom, but that is Venkatesh for you! Some of his expressions are impeccable, when he shows anger and affection at the same time and when he emotes in the pre-climax and climax scenes. Ritika Singh, who has repeated her role in the Tamil film – that of a boxer-turned-coolie – was at ease but her dubbing was such a mismatch and seemed overdone. Nasser, who also repeated his role of a Junior Boxing Coach, did a very good job and has some worthy expressions to note, while Tanikella Bharani had a short role where his one expression in the climax in enough to justify the choice of casting him! Others including Mumtaz Sorcar and Zakir Hussain re-enacted their roles from the original, while Raghubabu and Anitha Chowdary appear as parents of the female lead.

I wish, however… that the film had some more scope for drama and less cliché as a sports film. I wish that the film’s dubbing was not so loud or so fast-paced that most dialogues are gone before you realize! I wish the music was a more active player in creating the emotional drama of the film. I wish that the movie spoke more about the urge to create women boxers in India. But these are not flaws really, and I am not going to mention some avoidable jerks in the narrative. I would however mention the diligence shown by the director in portraying some subtleties as they must be.

On the whole, Guru offers a comprehensive experience of a sports drama film catered to Telugu audience. Go for it!

— a guest review by NaChaKi

Katamarayudu – Movie Review

*This is a special guest review from someone who we, at Reeltalk, look up to: NaChaKi

Katamarayudu is the remake of the Tamil film Veeram starring Ajith in the lead role, which was already dubbed into Telugu as veeruDokkaDE. So, what is it about this film that a star of the masses like Pawan Kalyan wanted to remake, despite the fact that at least a few Telugu audience may have watched the dubbed version film?

Katamarayudu lives with his four younger brothers in a Rayalaseema village. He is a bachelor who sacrificed a lot (?) in his life to ensure that no rift can ever part the quintet of brothers. The brothers, upon some provoking from a family friend and advocate, decide that they cannot get married if they cannot first get Katamarayudu to marry. They create situations such that a visiting classical dance teacher Avanthi woos Katamarayudu. Avanthi is oblivious to their scheme yet things unfold like the brothers want. Katamarayudu and Avanthi like each other and then Avanthi realizes that Katamarayudu is outright violent. The daughter of a peace-loving Judge Bhupathi, who did not even touch his son’s dead body after the son chooses to turn violent and dies, Avanthi moves away from Katamarayudu. Katamarayudu does not give up and follows her to her hometown. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

Nothing seems to have worked very much in favour of the film – the story, the setup, the characters, …oh, yeah, the characters! All the character sketches seem …sketchy! So much so that one cannot figure out if the protagonist is a feudal lord or a village head or what! Or if the female lead is a dance teacher as well as a singer! Or if the Judge is retired or working, or if his brother-in-law was in NASA because NASA is dumb or because… oh, forget it! What can be told about the characters of a film about five brothers among who two do not even have names! One cannot but wonder who the antagonist is or why it must involve a game of guessing among Tarun Arora, Rao Ramesh, Pradeep Rawat or his brother.

So, is there anything good? Of course, Pawan Kalyan! He does a fair justice to the role of Katamarayudu and heaves the weight of the film on his shoulders. Music lets us down but costumes in songs let us down even lower. The younger brothers – played by Ajay, Shiva Balaji, Kamal Kamaraju, and Chaitanya Krishna – had not much to do in their roles and are largely limited to the typical bro-duo Nakula and Sahadeva in many mythological movies. Sruthi Hasan as the female lead did not require much of a performance and she fits the bill. Nasser was okay as her dad, and Ali did bring some laughs as the advocate friend of the protagonist’s family. Rao Ramesh’s role just remains as a good example of a half-baked role and Pradeep Rawat’s is much worse. Too many loose ends in the screenplay and bad character sketches mar the experience that the film could have offered. I have not watched the original Tamil film its dubbed version but the film’s plot has clearly undergone changes as far as Wikipedia could tell me. Thus, there’s no one to one comparison of those versions through this review. The plot of the film or the sub-plots have been rehashed many a time on the Telugu silver screen, and lack of novelty in the treatment is a disappointment, particularly when the music is not great and the comedy is not a true saviour (though it does help a bit). The action scenes and Pawan Kalyan’s performance in a few other scenes is okay, and that’s about the film, pretty much.

Go for it if you like Pawan Kalyan, and you’d not be disappointed so much. Go for it if you are okay with Telugu films merely promising something even if they don’t deliver it. The film does not bore you so much, I hope, but I couldn’t stop wondering why this film had to be remade …like this!

NaChaKi is a popular film critic and has worked for a popular Telugu cinema portal previously.