It's trite, it's predictable, it's a cheesy sitcom blown up to the big screen, it's filled with summer-stock characters and bad acting - yes, I'm talking about "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Not to be outdone, Daisy Von Scherler Mayer's new na´ve-Indian-in-America film "The Guru" dips into that dangerous territory, but a few times at least it rises above it for a quick laugh or a moment of romantic warmth.
Young Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry), a dance teacher dreaming of stardom and in love with the music and dance of "Grease," is lured to America by the fantastic letters of his cousin, who turns out to be a cab driver sharing an apartment in Queens with three other Indians. Ramu goes on a casting call to a porn film, where he is taken in hand, so to speak, by the beautiful star Sharonna (Heather Graham). Working as a waiter at a catering job for a dinner party in an upscale townhouse where the entertainment is to be a guru, he takes over when the real one passes out drunk. Family daughter Lexi (poor Marisa Tomei in a thankless role) takes him up as her guru, introduces him around, and pretty soon he's got everybody on the A-list swooning to his theme of sex without guilt as the way to godliness.
But from the moment he and Sharonna meet, there is only one question to be asked: when and how will Ramu and Sharonna finally get together? As it happens, not till after they accuse each other of lying (she is engaged to a firefighter who thinks she's a virgin, and he has Lexi hanging all over him), and he races to stop her wedding, as in, yes, "The Graduate," and they fly off to end the film.
Here's what I liked: I liked the full-tilt Bollywood version of "You're the One That I Want," from "Grease," and I liked a few of the throwaway lines that seem to have crept in from a better-written film. I also happen to have a crush on Heather Graham, which did not hurt as I watched the movie. In addition, there is a very handsome red Mercedes convertible, which people who go for those things will also enjoy looking at. Not nearly enough, but not all that bad, either.