Guru (literally: The Teacher / Spiritual Guide) is a 1997 Indian Malayalam-language fantasy film directed by Rajiv Anchal and written by C. G. Rajendra Babu from a story by Anchal. Mohanlal played the lead role in the film, while Nedumudi Venu, Srinivasan, Suresh Gopi, Sithara, Kaveri Muralidharan and Sreelakshmi appeared in supporting roles. A highly metaphorical movie with multiple layers of meaning, Guru himself can be regarded as a symbol of the manifestation of the supreme liberating knowledge. The movie makes a strong statement on various extreme divisions in the society (religious, political, so on), and the resulting conflicts and violence; evils which lie deep within one's own mind and reflected in the world. The movie portraits this human predicament as a result of the ignorance into the true nature of things.
The original musical score and songs were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. His symphonic score was conducted and performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Hungary. This was the first time in Indian cinema, the background score of a film was recorded completely outside the country. Guru was the first Malayalam film to be selected as India's official entry to the Oscars for the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Raghurāman (Mohanlal) is the son of a local Hindu temple's priest in an idyllic village. The people, Hindus and Muslims, live in harmony. When an ambitious politician's (NF Varghese) goons, disguised as Muslims, cause trouble at the local temple, tensions breaks out between the two communities leading to widespread religious riots. Raghurāman, after his family is killed, joins a Hindu extremist gang to take revenge by attacking a group of Muslims who have taken refuge in a Guru's Ashram (a place where a holy Guru lived and worked). After infiltrating the Ashram, he meets Vaidehi who suggests him to meditate for a few moments. During meditation, he experiences an altered state of consciousness and perceives being transported into another world.
In this new world, everyone is blind (a symbol for religion). They believe the sense of sight to be a lie and that is blasphemous to even talk about it. Children are taught from a very young age that sight does not exist. Raghurāman befriends Ramanagan, a man he saves from death. Raghurāman tries to tell them that there is a world of sight and that he can see, but they refuse to believe him and warn him that such talk will get him killed by the king and the elders.
Living with the man, he learns of their daily life and culture. He notices that they have built a world where sight is not required for anything. He eats a tasty and highly addictive fruit called Ilama pazham, the seeds of which are extremely poisonous, which is a common delicacy among them. After eating it, he turns blind and helpless. He is captured by the king’s soldiers and is ordered to be executed by forcing him to eat the seeds of Ilama pazham, a very rare and cruel punishment.
After the soldiers follow the orders, he is left to die and is surprised when he wakes up hours later having gotten his sight back. He uses his newfound knowledge to spread the truth about their blindness and the cure. He convinces Ramanagan and family to trust him and eat the seeds and they too gain their eyesight. The news spreads like wildfire and more and more people begin to eat the seeds and follow Raghuraman.
When the king and advisers learn of this, they arrest Raghuraman. The people respond by starting a rebellion. They storm the palace with weapons where Raghuraman begs them not to use violence and that it achieves nothing. At the same time, in the real world, Raghuraman drops his weapon and wakes up. The extremist group begins their assault on the refugees in the Ashram but Raghuraman rushes to save them, irrespective of their religion.
Rajiv Anchal cite his influence for the film to H. G. Wells's short story The Country of the Blind, which tells the story of a man who finds himself in a valley of blind men. Anchal first read the book during his college education. He was awestruck by its story and the description of the valley of the blind. He used the Wellsian theme in the film to picturise the human condition, that of "darkness overpowering the soul". Anchal is a disciple of the spiritual leader Karunakara Guru, founder of Santhigiri Ashram in Pothencode, Thiruvananthapuram. The idea for the film came when he met Guru seven years ago (since the release). The film is based on the Guru and tells the message Guru strive to convey to the materialistic world. The fund for the film was raised by 60 of the disciples in the Santhigiri Ashram, including Anchal. The film was made on a production cost of ₹30 million.
The film's soundtrack contains 6 songs, all composed by Ilaiyaraaja and Lyrics by S. Ramesan Nair. The orchestration for the film's songs and background score were composed and conducted by Ilaiyaraaja, and performed by Hungary's Budapest Symphony Orchestra.Screen Videocon Awards
Best Cinematography (South) – S. Kumar
Best Director (Malayalam) – Rajiv Anchal
Best Actor (Malayalam) – Mohanlal