Guru - Movie Review
Cast: Venkatesh, Ritika Singh, Mumtaz Sorcar, Nasser, Tanikella Bharani, Raghu Babu, Zakhir Hussain and others
Music Director: Santosh Narayanan
Camera: K.A. Shaktivel
Editor: Satish Suriya
Art Director: Jacki
Lyrics: Ramajogayya Satri, Bhaskara Bhatla, Srimani
Stunts: Stunner Sam, Real Satish
Executive Producer: Chakravarthy Ramachandra
Banner: Ynot Studios
Produced by: S. Sashikanth
Written and Directed by: Sudha Kongara
Release date: March 31, 2017
CBFC Rating: UA
Runtime: 116 Min
Aditya (Venkatesh), a headstrong and disgruntled boxing coach in Sports Federation of India in Hisar, is transferred to Vizag as a punishment posting. Corrupt head coach Dev Katri (Zakir) doesn't like Aditya as he questions Dev's methods. Hence the transfer is given for Aditya. In Vizag, he sees talent in a slum girl Ramudu aka Rameshwari (Ritika Singh), who works as a coolie. Her sister is training for boxing championship so that she can get selected as a police officer in sports quota but Ramudu has no such interests.
Aditya starts training Ramudu. His goal is to make her a champion but she is not a disciplined student and she also falls in love with him complicating the situation. How Aditya steers clear off the roadblocks for her in her path to become the champion is the core point of this drama.
'Guru' is remake of director Sudha Kongara's 'Saala Khadoos' (Hindi) and 'Irudhi Suttru' (Tamil). Underdog becoming the champion is the basic premise. But the story doesn't restrict to this simple thread. It also talks about a guru's selfless passion, politics in Sports Authorities, sibling rivalry, and ego clashes.
The realistic portrayal of a sports drama is relatively new to the Telugu cinema. Director Sudha Kongara has narrated this with so much dexterity and has extracted best performances. Despite its predictable story arc, 'Guru' is quite engaging as it is told in heart-warming manner and with relatable situations.
The main strength of the movie lies in the performances of the lead cast. Venkatesh has lived in the role of Adi. We have not seen him in such role before. His has come up with intense and a nuanced performance.
The movie has many influences of other sports dramas like 'Chak De India', 'Million Dollar Baby', 'Dangal' (climax) etc. It has familiar tropes that we find in such sports dramas. And the beginning portions, the slum setting of Vizag reeks of Tamil movies' flavor. Other wrong punches are slow first half and Tamil cinema kind of poverty portrayal. But thankfully, the movie comes into the groove just before the interval and it is engaging till the end. The climax makes you swell with emotions. Though the movie begins with a wrong bout, but packs a powerful punch in the end.
As said earlier, the movie has strong performances. This is one of the best works of Venkatesh's career, he has completely transformed into this role - building up muscles, keeping the beard without colouring it. But where he shows his experience and acting power is in the all-important penultimate sequence. Ritika Singh who also did the same role in Hindi and Tamil versions steals the show. She is so real in her character. She has come up with standout performance.
Nasser as a comic junior coach and Zakir Hussain as sexual predator are quite good too. Mumtaz Sircar, Tanikella are apt for their characters. Ramajogaiah Sastry appears in a brief role. Anitha and Raghu Babu are okay.
The film has rich production values and terrific technical strength. Cinematography is first rate. The cameraman captured non-regular locations of Vizag. The action stunts and the boxing sequences are shot so realistically by the stunt masters. Artwork is neat.
Harshavardhan has come up with some bold writing - "Naadi Nenu Kadukkovadanike Time Ledu Inkokadidi Kadugutana", "Nee Body lo Adi Tappa edi Panicheyyadu kada", etc. The dialogue writing is different from the regular Telugu movies.
As writer and director, Sudha Kongara must be applauded for showing Venky in different avatar and telling this underdog-to-champion story so effectively without resorting to commercial tricks. She is a director to watch out for.
Bottom-line: Venkatesh starrer Sudha Kongara's 'Guru' is heart-warming sports drama that is dealt with realistic approach. Venkatesh's power-packed performance, Ritika's honest act, and emotional climax sequences have made it an engaging movie. Despite predictability in its storyline, it is a taut intense drama with two-hours of runtime. Go for it.