Up until recently Abhishek Bachchan was better known for being the son of Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan than a talented actor in his own right. That all changed when acclaimed Indian director, Mani Ratnam, offered him the opportunity to ditch soppy romantic roles and play a street thug in Yuva. Bachchan junior excelled as a hardened character under Mani's guidance, and this is once again witnessed in Guru, the inspiring tale of an ambitious villager who rises to become one of India's most powerful industrialists.
In a small village in Gujarat, Gurukant Desai (Bachchan) dreams of making it big. Spurred on despite his father's reservations that he is destined to fail, the young man sets sail for Turkey, where he learns the art of market trading. Returning home, Guru soon realises that in 50s India you have to work the system in order to succeed. Unionists, tax inspectors and even his newspaper publisher-turned-mentor (Mithun Chakraborty) are out to get him, when his fledgling textiles business grows to become India's largest company.
"RISES ABOVE THE SIMPLE RAGS TO RICHES STORY"
Ratnam's absorbing screenplay ensures that Guru rises above the usual rags to riches story, by weaving in meaty subplots involving the protagonist's complex relationships with his loyal wife (Aishwarya Rai), friends and foes. And while Bachchan looks and sounds totally convincing as the young entrepreneur, his makeup and prosthetics let him down a touch as his character ages. However, that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. The social commentary, on the unavoidable link between corruption and success, plus the rise of India as a global economic force, add enough substance to this story.