Bollywood is hot: Lloyd Webber's spawned a musical, bindis are all the rage, darling, and any film worth its salt (from Ghost World to Moulin Rouge) has a finger in the cinematic masala of Indian influence. No surprise, then, that Hollywood has cashed in with this spicy feelgood romp inspired by Anglo-Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur's experiences as a young man (the Elizabeth director exec produces).
Ramu (Jimi Mistry), an aspiring actor/dancer in New Delhi, takes off for the bright lights of New York expecting fame, penthouses and sports cars. Instead he finds himself waiting tables in an Indian restaurant - and attempting to rise to the occasion in cheap skin flicks alongside tart with a heart, Sharona (Heather Graham).
Then there's a stirring in his fortunes. Hired as a waiter at a private party for spoiled brat Lexi (Marisa Tomei), Ramu is forced to stand in for the drunken guru who's been hired to entertain the new age guests. In the spotlight and stumped for words of wisdom, Ramu trots out Sharona's tips on porn performance ("The pussy is the gateway to the soul") and becomes an instant hit as "the Guru of Sex" among Manhattan's bored socialites.
Don't expect surprises but do expect to be entertained. The Guru is guilelessly charming thanks to intoxicating colour, cute gags and energetic performances. Tracey Jackson's script trades heavily on the lone joke that neurotic New Yorkers will believe any old bollocks, and often resorts to pastiche for its laughs (Ramu performs Tom Cruise's Risky Business dance at an audition, the entire cast breaks into a Grease-influenced song-and-dance number). But it's fair to say that Daisy Von Scherler Mayer's fish-out-of-water flick will still elicit giggles.
Nympho naif Graham certainly helps, admirably stretching her acting limits from sweet, big-eyed slapper to sweet, big-eyed slapper in a sari. Thing is, her acting inadequacies here work in her favour, her painfully earnest pornstar the perfect foil to Mistry's clowning, Tomei's yapping and Michael McKean's woefully underused porn director.
Lacks anything approaching originality, but The Guru is like scarfing your favourite curry on a Saturday night - enjoyable, familiar and tasty. Oh, and it won't stay with you for long.