THE GURU, from director Daisy von Scherler Mayer, begins with a young Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) in a Delhi movie theater, rejecting the extreme song and dance notions of the local Bollywood cinema for the more glamorous American film musical GREASE. This transformative experience eventually leads Ramu to travel to New York, where he plans to launch a career as a dancing actor like his idol, John Travolta. Though things don’t initially work out, he soon finds different kinds of success, both as “The Guru of Sex” (catering to an aimless socialite played by Marisa Tomei) and in wooing the woman he loves (Heather Graham), a porn actress with a heart of gold.
While Ramu rejects the playfully surreal, over-the-top musical style of Bollywood, director von Scherler Mayer uses it to dual-edged effect in THE GURU–at various times, the scenes set in America suddenly burst into rococo musical production numbers, simultaneously emulating and poking fun at the Indian cinema tradition. A final number even manages to fuse Bollywood techniques with a send-up of GREASE, resulting in a humorous double homage.