When it comes to low budget, character-driven British flicks, we're tempted, through sheer enthusiasm for our own industry, to play down the flaws, slap the director on the back and gush praise, or at the very least, give it a hearty "well done". But apportioning such neatly packaged tributes to screenwriter/ director Shani Grewal's feature debut is more complex.
This honest and laugh out loud tale of a rejected man on the prowl is difficult to pigeonhole, and is commendable in its portrayal of London's Asian community which, Grewal claims, "shows Asians as regular people and not as curry-guzzling Pakis who own corner shops". But Guru In Seven is no dull, po-faced social docudrama: dismantling cultural stereotypes isn't the director's main objective. Instead, this is more a frank depiction of the late-twentysomething predicament: coping with what to do about your career, family hassles and the pressure to get hitched to your long-term partner.
Although Guru In Seven exudes a palpable cool that's reminiscent of the charm which made Swingers so watchable, Grewal's direction here is disappointing. Each scene cuts prosaically to the next, occasionally interrupted by Sanjay's address to camera. It's an unnecessary and distracting device that looks out of place in a film which uses humour instead of intimacy to affect the audience.
Surprisingly, none of Grewal's directorial blemishes seriously hinder Guru In Seven's lasting impression, with Ganatra's charming little-boy-lost portrayal of Sanjay holding the loose threads together.
Instead of employing the easy option and resorting to the usual masculine caricatures, he embodies a vulnerability that's seldom seen in a male performance. Very funny and warmly recommended.
A frank, funny tale of how one man copes with rejection and late-twentysomething angst. Despite some clumsy direction by first-timer Grewal, this is a confident debut feature that's guaranteed to deliver the laughs.