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

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