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THE GURU

About The Production
Pairing comedic screen siren Heather Graham as an honest young woman who has kept one very big secret from her fiance with English actor Jimi Mistry as an Indian immigrant who wants to be a star, The Guru spins the romantic comedy on its head.

"We definitely have fun with the romantic comedy genre, and the audience is in on the joke all the way through," said director Daisy von Scherler Mayer. "We hit the traditional marks, like rushing to the church to break up the wedding and all that, but we re-invent them in fresh and funny ways."

Bollywood and Hollywood both play a role in The Guru. "It's a movie about other movies," von Scherler Mayer explained, "in that Ramu's ideas about America come from American films he's seen growing up in India, leading him to form a very romantic notion of what his life here could be like. But when he gets here, he sees it's not how we live."

The Bollywood flavor comes from the fantastical musical set pieces that von Scherler Mayer has staged in The Guru and the vibrant Indian palette that gives the film its look of a technicolor fantasy and its feeling of giddy energy. In addition, the production filmed several scenes in India, with Bollywood actors and crew members coming aboard for the location work. And drawing from both Hollywood and Bollywood, The Guru rewards an audience's faith in the time-honored message that true love conquers all.

From the producers of such hits as Four Weddings and A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary and About A Boy, The Guru was initially conceived by executive producer Shekhar Kapur, the Indian-born director of the 1998 OscarĀ®-nominated film Elizabeth.

Kapur had lived his own version of Ramu's experience when he arrived in London from India as a sheltered 18-year-old university student. "The Guru has been brewing inside me for more than 20 years - since before I became a filmmaker," he said.

"I came from a traditional Indian family life much like Ramu's - motorcycle and all," Kapur recalled. "There was no CNN or anything like that back then, so our impressions of the West were formed from Hollywood 'B' movies. You can imagine what a false view of Western culture I arrived with."

Misinformed or not, Kapur adapted quickly to his situation. "As a person with different racial characteristics (there were not many of us in London at that time), I was conscious of the fact that I had to find ways to be not only socially acceptable - but also desirable, especially to girls. And that is when I realized that part of the sexual independence of Western society led to sexual insecurity. Everyone thought someone else was having a better sex life - and that somehow a great sexual life was the mantra to happiness. Not only that, they somehow believed that the eastern mystics possessed the key to such sexual nirvana."

Kapur did not discourage this impression. "I was known then to be a disciple of a great Tibetan Ascetic (and still have never set foot in Tibet)," he confessed. "All went brilliantly until my elder sister visited London and was suitably horrified at the stories I was telling. That was the end of my career as a guru - but the beginning of a movie!"

Kapur's unique insight into Ramu was complemented by the Western perspective von Scherler Mayer and screenwriter Tracey Jackson brought to The Guru.

"Daisy has a very American sense of humor, along with a great respect for the Eastern aspect of the movie, which seemed to us a perfect balance," said producer Tim Bevan. "One of the other qualities we look for in a director is their enthusiasm for the project because they've got to create the energy that everyone else responds to. When we saw Daisy's other movies and then met her, we knew she had it."

Screenwriter Tracey Jackson, a self-proclaimed Indiophile, was well-acquainted with anothe

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