Director: Rajiv Anchal
Written by: Dr. C.G Rajendrababu
Starring: Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi
Produced by : Janasammathi Creations
Music by : Ilaiyaraaja
Release date : 12 September 1997
Guru is a Malayalam film that was released in 1997. C.G. Rajendra Babu wrote it, Rajiv Anchal directed it, and it starred Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Madhupal, Srinivasan, Murali, and others.
The film revolves around the issue of human civilization, in which individuals dispute over race, gender, color and caste. This is a film that was made before its time which serves as a cautionary tale. Raghuraman, played by Mohanlal, is the main character who propels the plot forward. The town where he lived was serene and people of various religions coexisted peacefully. When a conflict arises between the two major faiths in the village, the plot thickens. If the issue had not been politicized, it would not have resulted in a large riot, but the involvement of politicians in the issue makes that more worse. Religion’s poison blinds everyone to their reality that they all have the same privileges as they are all humans and equal. Raghuraman’s parents are killed in the riot. Raghuraman, an admirable human being, gets affected by these religious toxins in his thoughts and decides to avenge his parents’ deaths. He chose to execute everyone of the opposing religion. The other side’s motto is also displayed. Raghuraman attempted to achieve his goal as part of the plan, but was unsuccessful and ended up in an ashram.
Raghuraman is advised not to continue the erroneous way of destruction at the ashram by a girl who lives there and could see that Raghuraman proved not to be beneficial. When he refuses to abandon his plans, she invites him to touch the guru’s feet, to whom they pray. When Raghuraman touches the feet, he gets transported to another world. His alternate reality is a world populated by blind people who believe that sight does not exist.
And Raghuraman is summoned to their world to bring light into their souls and liberate them out of their darkness. This otherworldly existence could be the conscience of everyone who is blinded by faith. Going to a magical world in which visual impairment is a metaphor for people who are blinded by their faith in reality. Raghuraman realises how blind he was in the real world as a result of the duty that was entrusted to him. Raguraman works hard to persuade others that there is such a thing as sight. Later, he discovers that the cause of their loss of vision is a fruit that is given to every child born in that world. Guru advises digging more deeply before having faith in something because in the film, the seed becomes a remedy for blindness and all the inhabitants did was consume the fruit and discard the seed. In this case, the fruit is portrayed as religion or faith, which causes people to become blind. When Raghuraman comes to know about the reality, he realises how corrupted his mind was as a result of all the unwanted poison and he apologises for his error. It is apparently known to everybody that Magical Realism is a paradox in which two natures appear to be diametrically opposed but when combined form a very strange genre. This genre’s stories are rooted in a world that exists and the conventions in which we live by, but they also incorporate touches of fantasy. In this film, the parallel universe is akin to the real one in that people hustle, study, and make a living, and they are governed by a ruler and forced to follow rules, just like in the ordinary world. The paranormal happenings are considered like any other unplanned everyday occurrence and are not explained because they have been established in which the supernatural resembles the realistic.
The occurrence which transported Raghuraman to virtual reality was touching the guru’s feet, but this is depicted in the film as normal. We only realise the significance later. The incredible components of the alternate world, which include the fruit and the seed, reflect people’s thoughts and beliefs in the real world. Guru contains some of the universal traits of magical realism, such as fantastical elements.
In the film, the guru’s sandals are the ashram, and the entire alternate world is another example, as is the fruit that leaves people blind when eaten. Magical Realism is a genre of literature that integrates fantasy elements into illustrations of everyday events. Its heroes are ordinary people whose paths happen to collide with the extraordinary and which does not include characters from fairy tales or characters that appear to be unrealistic. Raghuraman is a representative of a common man with no special abilities in this world. He is merely a normal human being who happens to be the primary component in the realm of fantasy. The film took careful consideration in creating a real-world setting, which is critical when it comes to the illusion of reality. Because if the world or the individuals involved are absurd, there will be no Magical realism and the story will continue to be a fantasy. We have access to a mirror reflecting the universe we are familiar with. That is how it becomes more realistic. When Raghuraman touched the Guru’s sandals and went into a state of somnolence, travelling to another virtual reality, it remains unclear about what took place, which is left unanswered in the story. Which is yet another aspect of magical realism. The author made certain that the most significant concepts of Magical Realism were hidden underneath it. It can be observed in the film about the change in narrative tone in the film as two distinct segments, before and after the world of virtual reality. This shift in narration ushered in a literary tone while retaining the fundamental elements of magical realism. This provides yet another reason to believe the film is not a work of fiction. The significance of Elama fruit is depicted as an oral tradition. Fruit juice has been savoured to infants for centuries in order for them to stay alive. Babies who did not drink the juice did not fare well in the virtual world.
Everyone in that world followed such things, but Raghuraman refused to accept a story and as a result eventually came to understand that the fruit was the cause of blindness and the seed, which they flung away with a false perception that it was poison, was the true solution for treating the loss of vision. As a result, Raghuraman dispels the fruit’s myth. This also demonstrates that truth is not always what that receives as evidence, but rather what we find. There are fish-shaped spirits traversing about in some scenes in the first half of the film. Such forms are portrayed as negative, prominent emotions which strike human minds and remain as infections, eventually killing the human. This element was shown alongside the real-world incidents and served a purpose in showing how people’s minds were influenced by such spirits entering their body.
People in the alternate world believe that if an awful thing takes place, it is because they have enraged God. They have prepared for offerings of sacrifice without hesitation. This behaviour indicates that people are unwilling to seek an explanation for why undesirable events are arising. They continue on, convinced that which was their fate. A unique narrative format could be noticed; normally, there would be a beginning, a middle, and an end, but we can’t predict what events will come about next or how things will develop over time. Events occur without any warning, so the audience has no idea how the story progresses in order, but whatever a viewer thinks could possibly occur, but fails to occur the way he predicts it to be. Symbolism, which is depicted in this film, makes up one of the fundamental components of magical realism. The Elama fruit is a substantial figurative aspect picturised in the film, which depicts two sides, one emphasizing the good and another intent on the evil, both of which are represented by the fruit and seed. Furthermore, the fruit represents spirituality, and its seed represents what’s true as a hint to the reality of the universe. Another area forced in the film according to Magical Realism is the increased portion that represents misery, where it is evident that people in virtual as well as real life suffer from despair as a result of their own actions. In actual life, people are losing family members and loved ones as a result of ideological chaos caused by their own blind belief. Contrary to the virtual world, they have been blind for many generations due to their trust in the fruit. Strange metaphors are also used in this film. It is well known that a metaphor is used to compare two things that are not the same but share some characteristics. The metaphors in the film are primarily that even though people in the real world have the ability to see but are blind from within, not attempting to understand a human as it is but instead wanting to separate them by race and belief system. In a related vein in the other world, individuals grow up blindly and live their lives believing that it is their faith, with no effort whatsoever made to discover the truth. Atmospheric and Catalytic magical realism are the two types. Atmospheric Magical Realism is characterised by magical elements that are detached and scattered throughout the environment, with no effect on the character. In contrast, in Catalytic Magical Realism, the magical element is the focal point and serves as an initiator to bring about transformation.
From many incidents in the movie, it is clear that the movie Guru falls under Catalytic Magical Realism. Which itself forms the focal point of the story, bringing it all together. Regardless of whether it’s Raghuraman touching Guru’s sandals, which causes a magical stupor, or the ethereal aspect that revolves within the Elama fruit, which serves as a key factor in the plot’s flow in the magical or virtual world. Guru’s structure or framework may be normally realistic, but with a juxtaposing feature. A balance of realistic and artistic elements is always present. It implies that the main purpose of depicting a magical world in the film was to highlight or address certain issues that exist in the ordinary world in an analogous way. Issues in the virtual environment shed light on issues in the real world.
An uprising slated by powerful politicians shatters the peace and harmony that existed between two religious communities in a local Indian village. Right after his family’s sad demise in the riot, Raghuraman, the son of a Hindu priest, vows vengeance on the opposing community. Raghuraman becomes a member of an armed extremist group with the intention of annihilating them. They discover that people from the opposing community have already sought refuge in a Holy Guru’s monastery, where Raghuraman also succeeds to conceal himself and seek refuge. Raghuraman and his associates intend to attack the abbey and murder the refugees. They believe their job will be simple, but it was not as simple as they had hoped. A film that is still relevant in today’s world, where individuals are being killed because of religious misunderstandings. The metaphorical depictions of our beliefs and apathy in this film are so good that they provide a window onto general human dimwittedness. Despite Mohanlal sir’s incomparable performance, the film is vastly underappreciated.
The title ‘guru’ reveals a lot about the movie. Guru, which means “teacher,” is the one who directs and serves as a pioneer in order to pave the way to self-actualization and eternal happiness. The film’s spiritual implications, combined with a solid storyline, astounding images, melodious music, and mind blowing performances from prominent actors, make it a stunning experience for moviegoers. Everything that can happen when people lose one of their faculties is presented exceptionally well in the film. The film also poses a question about the sixth sense, which could be interpreted as a reminder of things that are still relevant in the twenty-first century. It is an all-around film with multiple layers ranging from fantasy, romance, excitement, violence among communities, and a visual approach to higher philosophical topics and existence. The film has linked modern-day social conditions and how they affect people’s vital and existing lives. Guru was also recognized as the first molly wood film to be nominated for an Oscar.
The film, loosely based on HG Wells’ “Country of the Blind” (1904), nonetheless makes the audience curious of how such old stories are still relevant today. We continue to be encircled by people who have decided to remain blind towards the progressive society. In 1997, Guru received three Kerala State Film Awards for Best Costume Designer, Best Art Director, and Best Make-Up Artist. The film did poorly at the box office. Guru, on the other hand, is a must-see film that communicates its point of view predominantly by way of metaphors of societal disputes. The film encourages viewers to consider India’s ‘culture’ of Hindu-Muslim conflicts, in which either side is blindly disregarding the other’s presence, or that of peace.