The Guru

Starring: Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei and Jimi Mistry
Vision Video
RRP £14.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

Dance instructor Ramu Gupta leaves India to seek fame and fortune in the USA. But with no cash to fall back on, he finds himself working in porn movies. Then a bizarre mix-up has Ramu being mistaken for a spiritual leader, a "Guru of Sex". In fact, his words of wisdom are inspired by a porn actress called Sharonna...

It's a bit of a shame that the actor who plays the eponymous guru, the amiable Jimi Mistry (of East is East fame), is billed third among the leading cast. But I suppose the reason for this is because Mistry is not as big a star in Hollywood as Heather Graham (From Hell, The Spy Who Shagged Me) or Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny).

But this is not to suggest that Graham and Tomei don't deserve star billing, because they do. Both actresses work hard to make their potentially unsympathetic characters appealing to the viewer. Graham, who previously portrayed a porn star in Boogie Nights, manages to elicit empathy for Sharonna, even though the character lies to her fiancé - and to herself - about her chosen line of work. She does this by establishing Sharonna as a supremely confident individual, and then proceeds to chip away at that veneer to reveal her true self to Ramu. Tomei is also endearing, and amusing, as Lexi, a mystically fixated society girl.

The Guru is a curious beast, spoofing Hollywood movies, Bollywood movies and porn movies all in one fell swoop - not a combination that you find very often. It isn't always as funny as I expected it to be, but there are some truly memorable song and dance numbers inspired by Grease and by Bollywood musicals, which are brilliantly staged by director Daisy von Scherler Mayer. Perhaps the most comical aspects of all are the numerous porn titles that are mentioned in passing during the course of the film. Listen out for such name checks as Glad He Ate Her (which is based, of course, on Gladiator) and The Prime of Miss Jean's Booty!

This is far from being the greatest romantic comedy ever made, but it is certainly one of the most imaginative. And the ending left me feeling genuinely uplifted, which takes some doing when you're such a miserable git as I am.

Chris Clarkson

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