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The Guru Review

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Wannabe movie star Ramu arrives in New York and gets a part in a skin flick. Unable to 'perform', Ramu finds an alternative route to fame as a sex guru for polite Manhattan society, trading off advice from porn queen Sharonna.

★★★★

Perfect counter-programming in the blockbuster season, The Guru offers quality guidance for an instant smile. An uplifting, joyous confection of broad comedy, song and dance, touching romance and feel-great sentiment, this simple, effectively-spun yarn pushes well-worn platitudes - follow your heart and you'll win in the end - in such a persuasive manner that the result is a totally disarming crowdpleaser.

Much will be made of The Guru's relationship to the current vogue for all things Bollywood. But while Indian cinema lends the movie a bright visual schema and some great moments - chiefly Mistri and Graham camping it up a treat in a Bollywood take on Grease's You're The One (That I Want) - its roots are more in the fish-out-of-water comedies and romantic soufflés of Hollywood.

As Ramu's faux guru rises up the celebrity ladder, von Scherler Mayer makes the gentlest sideswipes at trendy New Ageism - Tomei slightly over-eggs her society gal hell-bent on mystical enlightenment - and America's ability to commercialise the spiritual to the hilt. But it's easy laughs, not satire, that's on the agenda here (Ramu's flatmates, including Goodness Gracious Me's Sanjeev Bhaskar, provide a nice line in comic relief).

There's also an engaging journey of self-discovery, as the trappings of guru-dom envelope Ramu, forcing him to decide what he really wants in life. Investing Ramu with likeable naiveté, Mistry proves an appealing physical comedian - his porn audition, which ranges from the macarena to Tom Cruise in Risky Business gyrations, is priceless - and Graham recalls her Boogie Nights best as the vulnerable actress (why does playing porn stars seem to raise her to the top of her game?).

But where The Guru really scores is when the couple are together: the enticing purity in Ramu and Sharrona's relationship makes it a warm alternative to arachnids and dragons.

There are some problems - it is occasionally too broad, a tad long and the ending is one cop-out too many - but, for the most part, The Guru remains good-hearted, likeable, blissful entertainment.