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Maniratnam's Gurubhai's Vs Mumbai's Dhirubhai

A cursory glance at this wikipedia page about Dhirubhai Ambani will establish, without a doubt, who is the framework of Maniratnam's 'Guru'. Both, the reel Gurukant and the real Dhirajlal were born in rural Gujarat to a school teacher. In their teen years, they both abandoned school education and set out to middle-east looking to make money. They both worked for a distributor for Shell products. They both placed huge orders for the country's currency which is a valuable metal. Both are risk-takers who came to Mumbai (Bombay, then) with a vision of building a business empire. While Guru starts his textile business 'Shakti', it's (needless to say) 'Vimal' for Dhiru. They invite the public to take a share of the business (IPO). Heck, the Mercedes car Gurukant buys is the same model which Dhirubhai owned. Both face problems with a leading newspaper - and then resort to ugly means. Both held share-holders meetings in stadiums. Both diversified their business into petroleum and other sectors. Both were questioned by a commission set up by the central government for their unethical business practices. They both suffer a stroke, on the right side. Both make a come back, not only physically, but business wise too.

Having done such a neat job of transforming Dhirubhai's life story, Maniratnam has the temerity to put on a card that reads something like "All character in this movie are imaginary... any similarity to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental...". Wow, that must be really really some coincidence. I frankly don't know what are the hurdles in making a true biopicture. I mean, if Scorsese can make 'Aviator', a film based on Howard Hughes, why not an Indian director make a movie on an Indian business tycoon? I'm sure Mukesh and Anil would have diluted the script if there was a need to obtain permission from them, but isn't there any other means for the producers to really claim that the movie is actually a biopic of Dhirubhai? Somehow, to read that disclaimer and then count the similarities between Guru and Dhiru, and then lose the count because it's such a big integer, is a let down.

This isn't the first time Maniratnam does such a thing. His 'Iruvar', a movie about the friendship, rise and fallout of two political leaders who shaped Tamil Nadu - Karunanidhi & M.G.R, also had a similar disclaimer. After all, Karunanidhi praised Prakash Raj for the role he played in a public stage - so, what exactly would have been the issue if Mani had openly admitted that it wasn't his imagination? Another famous production is his 'Nayagan', a story not-so-loosely based on Varadaraja Mudaliar. I read somewhere that 'Anjali' was also inspired. We have our share of biopictures - 'Gandhi' by Attenborough, 'Bose' by Shyam Benegal, 'Ambedkar' by Jabbar Patel, 'Bharathi' by Gnana Rajasekaran.... is there a body where the producers will have to obtain permission before they can shoot movies based on real life personalities? Heck, Kamal's 'Hey Ram' played with M.K.Gandhi.

One minor reason I could think of for Maniratnam to go with that disclaimer could be because of commercial exploits - like songs and romantic affairs. If it had been announced as a movie based on facts, Mani wouldn't have a free hand to play with songs and he would lose half the audience who come to see Aishwarya Rai scantily dressed, drenched in rain dancing for a Rahman tune. Worse, the problem is compounded when you show her as a girl who was ready to elope with another man - Mukesh & Anil would give Mani the stick, huh! But these are the reasons I come up with, while Mani vehemently rejects in his interviews that his movie has nothing to do with Dhiru - which just makes my head move sideways in part anger and part dejection: one of the few film talents in India remains gutless when it comes to his inspirations. Maniratnam has already established himself, and that too very firmly. He can command top stars to work for him at a rate he sets. He must have enough money - in fact, he should have got his entire expenditure for 'Guru' in the first week earning all over the world and with the music sales. Before he is too old to make movies, I'd like to see from him a very open, honest and brutally harsh movie about a real life personality without that disclaimer. That would be a great salute to his fans.

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5 Responses to “Maniratnam's Gurubhai's Vs Mumbai's Dhirubhai”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Plz visit my blog as Anyway nice blog keep blogging.  

  2. # Anonymous Tamil Nadu News

    Tamil Director Maniratnam is very unique among India cinema. He is best of best.  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I guess there is no Intellectual Property guidelines in Indian Cinema. Is it asking for too much honesty?

    How about this for a disclaimer: Dhiru's story modified freely to fit the silver screen.

    According to Thiruvalluvar, this qualifies as Theft. So, Mani falls in my view.


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