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THE LOVE GURU

The Guru's World
As he had done with Austin Powers, Mike Myers wanted to create an imaginatively designed, highly detailed visual universe for Guru Pitka and his comic cohorts. For inspiration, he and director Schnabel looked first to India – not just to the country's rich spiritual history, but also to its breathless exuberance, brilliant colors and sudden breaking-out-into-dance moments that typify the Bollywood film phenomenon.

A big part of the film's design began with Myers' look for Guru Pitka, which was modeled after the youthful, rock n' roll-inspired style of the famed Beatles guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Myers developed the initial outfit when he performed the character at New York theaters and then later worked with costume designer Karen Patch, Academy Award®-winning makeup artist Ve Neill and hair stylist Jennifer O'Halloran to refine his final transformation for the film. Ultimately, the complete guru get-up required up to fours hours a day in the makeup chair while various facial prosthetics, fake beards and wigs were applied.

From there, "The Love Guru's” production designer Charles Wood ("The Italian Job”) forged all kinds of fusion looks, melding East and West in sets that run from sweaty hockey rinks to the sanctity of Tugginmypuddha's ashram. "We needed a designer who could marry all these different worlds together and also bring the sumptuousness of a Bollywood production, and Charles did a really good job with that,” says producer De Luca.

The film's more than 80 sets were often teeming, not just with comedians and laughter, but ostriches, elephants and high-tech puppets. Wood says the focus was always on creating something eye-popping and resplendent without overshadowing the story's even more colorful characters. "We wanted environments that were joyous, detailed and interesting and could intertwine with the comedy of the film,” he explains. "It was important to Mike that the set designs be believable, but also support the humor.”

Scale played a big part in the creation of Guru Tugginmypuddha's ashram, which took three months to bring to vibrant life. Wood had to work especially carefully to make sure the set could accommodate the film's two huge, hockey-loving Asian elephants, Maggie and Jenny, who are Pitka's main mode of transportation.

The opposite dynamic was at play for Coach Cherkov's office, in which everything was cleverly scaled down to Verne Troyer's size, right down to the water cooler and office supplies.

For director Schnabel, the creativity of the sets was a constant inspiration, but his heart, he notes, really belongs to "The Love Guru's” lavishly designed Bollywood dance numbers. "The musical numbers were such a joy to me,” he muses. "We did several wildly different musical dance sequences. There's one at the end of the film that's a more traditional Bollywood number, which is inspired by the classic Bollywood movie ‘Devdas,' which is sort of like the ‘Titanic' of Bollywood. But then we also did Bollywood numbers to ‘More Than Words,' that great ‘90s ballad by the band Extreme, and Dolly Parton's ‘9 to 5.' They were a real highlight for all of us.”

Aside from the sumptuous musical interludes, some of the most exciting shooting days came whenever the elephants were working, especially during the climactic sequences in which they play a major and hilarious role. "All praise goes to Marco Schnabel, who pulled it off,” says Myers. "We wound up with a masterful mix of real animals and mechanical trickery that created some amazing effects.”

The mechanical elephants, as well as an ostrich, were created and brought to life by special-fx artist Ron Stefaniuk (who also created Guru Pitka's chastity belt, puppeteered special "yogically flexible” legs for Mike Myers, and built other unusual items), who used a five-man rig and a unique

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