Like Tandoori Chicken made mild for a dilettante ally, Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s “The Guru” is Bollywood condensed – supplementing ersatz blasé for an American audience. It may have the melody, visage and basics of a Bollywood biggie, but truth be told, “The Guru”, despite it’s zest and lure, gives the far-off genus a bad wrap.
Original but bombastic, “The Guru” centers on what happens when young Indian men come to the United States, determined to make it big in Hollywood – just as they have through film back home.
Ramu (Jimi Mistry) is a young Indian dance instructor suddenly faced with the realization that his relocation to New York may be a bust. In a surprise to even himself, he gets a gig in a porno movie – but unable to get Ramu Jr. to perform on cue, the job only lasts a day. Downcast, he turns to co-star Sharonna (Heather Graham Graham) for direction.
Her theoretical counsel on porn acting proves unpredictably useful when he subsequently finds himself stepping into the shoes of a drunken guru at a glamorous Upper East Side gathering. He recycles her tips and the audience lap up his words of wisdom. Before long, Ramu becomes the ‘Guru of Sex’ – with everyone wanting a piece of him.
While Mayer’s film is a tad over-emphatic, it does have its moments. Heather Graham is noticeably having a blast as a triple x-rated porn star masquerading throughout the day as a schoolteacher. Mistry himself proves a likeable and amiable enough headliner for the piece too, despite the fact he’s actually English, not Indian.
Had “The Guru” beefed up its vacillating plot with more observable differences between the states and India, we might have had more of a film here. But as it stands, there’s only a couple of laughs – the “Grease” take-off being one – and they aren’t really worth that hefty price of cinema admission.