Guru Sishyan (1988 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||S. P. Muthuraman|
|Produced by||Meena Panju Arunachalam|
|Screenplay by||Panchu Arunachalam|
|Based on||Insaf Ki Pukar|
|Cinematography||T. S. Vinayagam|
|Edited by||R. Vittal|
P. A. Art Productions
|Distributed by||Mangaadu Amman Films|
Guru Sishyan (lit. Teacher, Student) is a 1988 Indian Tamil-language action comedy film, directed by S. P. Muthuraman. It is a remake of the Hindi film Insaf Ki Pukar (1987). The film stars Rajinikanth, Prabhu, Seetha and Gautami in the lead roles with Pandiyan, Cho Ramaswamy, Ravichandran, Radha Ravi, Senthamarai, Vinu Chakravarthy, Manorama, LIC Narasimhan and Sudha in supporting roles. In Guru Sishyan, two crooks released from prison decide to find out the truth behind the murder that their fellow convict was framed for committing. In the process, they discover secrets about their childhood.
The film was produced by Meena Panchu Arunachalam under the production company P. A. Art Productions. The screenplay was written by her husband Panchu Arunachalam. Cinematography was handled by T. S. Vinayagam and the editing by R. Vittal and C. Lancy. This was Gautami's debut in Tamil cinema, and the first film where stars Rajinikanth and Prabhu acted together. Shooting took place primarily in Mysore and Chennai, and was completed in 25 days.
Guru Sishyan was released on 13 April 1988, during Puthandu (Tamil New Year). Despite being released at a time when political turmoil was happening in Tamil Nadu after chief minister M. G. Ramachandran's death, the film became a commercial success, running for over 125 days in theatres.
Raja alias Guru and Babu alias Sishya are two friends and petty criminals. They end up in jail and meet Manohar, a convict who tells them that his sister was raped by the criminal Muthuraaj, who had killed a taxi driver (witness) with the help of a corrupt police officer Nallasivam, then pinned the murder on Manohar, who is sentenced to death. Guru and Sishya believe in Manohar's story and decide to find the truth and prove his innocence once they get out of jail. Guru fractures Manohar's arm so that his death sentence would be delayed, until he is healed, under law. Guru and Sishya get released from prison and set in motion an elaborate plan to find out the real killers. Along the way, Guru, who believed that his parents were murdered, finds out that they are in fact being held captive by Muthuraaj's brother Rajamanickam, who is trying to find the map to a treasure.
The location of the map is known only to Guru's father, who is suffering from memory loss and is tortured to make him remember it. Babu finds out that his parents were murdered by Rajamanickam. Guru and Sishya help them find the treasure to free Guru's parents and Guru finds out that Manohar is his own brother. The ensuing fight at the treasure location ends up with Muthuraaj and his brother arrested by the police after Guru and Babu beat them up and the treasure cave collapses after Guru, his family, and Sishya escape from it. Sishya marries Muthuraaj's niece Chitra, while Guru marries Nallasivam's daughter Geetha, and they live happily ever after.
- Rajinikanth as Raja (Guru)
- Prabhu as Babu (Sishya)
- Seetha as Chithra
- Gautami as Geetha
- Pandiyan as Manohar
- Cho Ramaswamy as Jayaram
- Ravichandran as Rajamanickam
- Radha Ravi as Muthuraaj
- Senthamarai as Kandhasamy
- Vinu Chakravarthy as Inspector Nallasivam
- Manorama as Kalyani Nallasivam
- LIC Narasimhan as DGP Sriram and Babu's father
- Sudha as Sumathi (Pandiyan's sister)
Once the producer and writer Panchu Arunachalam was in financial crisis; director S. P. Muthuraman told actor Rajinikanth this crisis could be solved if Arunachalam made a film starring him. Rajinikanth, despite the lack of dates, agreed to do a film for the sake of Arunachalam, and offered to give a call sheet of 10 days, then told Muthuraman to get an appropriate story ready. Muthuraman objected, saying that if Rajinikanth did a "guest role", audiences would not accept it and distributors would not buy the film, therefore meaning low chances of profit. Muthuraman asked Rajinikanth to give 25 call sheet days, and said he would finish the entire film within that time.
Rajinikanth wondered how Muthuraman would finish an entire film within 25 days, and Muthuraman saw a Hindi film (1987's Insaf Ki Pukar) which had two heroes. He decided to remake this film in Tamil, and told Rajinikanth that 25 days was enough. Rajinikanth signed on the film, but asserted that he would not act higher than the given dates. The film was titled Guru Sishyan. It was produced by Arunachalam's wife Meena under their own company P. A. Art Productions, while Arunachalam himself wrote the screenplay. Cinematography was handled by T. S. Vinayagam, editing by R. Vittal and C. Lancy, and art direction by B. Chalam. Arunachalam's son Subbu Panchu worked as an assistant production manager for the film.
Muthuraman said he did Guru Sishyan to exploit Rajinikanth's flair for comedy. Prabhu was cast as the second hero. This was the first film where he and Rajinikanth, two stars of Tamil cinema, were seen together onscreen; they actually first acted together in Dharmathin Thalaivan, which released later in 1988. The film marked the debut of Gautami in Tamil films. She revealed that she "felt very nervous as I had to act with stars such as Rajinikanth, Prabhu, Manorama, Vinu Chakravarthi, Cho and others. But the film did very well and boosted my confidence. It was a good break". While Gautami played the female lead paired opposite Rajinikanth, Seetha played the female lead paired opposite Prabhu.
Principal photography began with the filming of the song "Jingidi Jingidi" at VGP Universal Kingdom. The film was also shot at Mysore. The song "Vaa Vaa Vanji", picturised on Prabhu and Seetha, was filmed at Brindavan Gardens. Initially, the script did not have a fight scene for Prabhu's character. At Rajinikanth's insistence, the fight scene intended for him was later given to Prabhu while Rajinikanth would appear onscreen to finish the fight. The climax fight sequence was planned to be filmed in the Borra Caves at Araku Valley, but since Rajinikanth's call sheet dates were nearing the end and going to Araku Valley and returning would take longer, Chalam designed an identical cave set in Chennai, and the sequence was shot there successfully. While Rajinikanth had given a call sheet of 25 days, all his scenes were shot in 23 days; he stayed for the remaining two days, during which he moved the trolley for a song picturised on Prabhu and Seetha as he was otherwise jobless.
Film critic Naman Ramachandran considered the film to have an "overt political message". He interpreted the scene where many inmates fight for the chief's chair and Guru (Rajinikanth) sings that people fighting for a chair are insane, as a reference to infighting which occurred within the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) following the death of chief minister M. G. Ramachandran on 24 December 1987. This view was shared by Jeeva Sahapthan of Patrikai, who noted that the film criticised contemporaneous politics, especially with the dialogue "Mike aala pesurathu antha kaalam, mike ala adikirathu intha kaalam" (Talking through the mike is old, beating by mike is new). S. Rajanayagam, in his 2015 book Popular Cinema and Politics in South India, writes that the scene where the jailer advises Raja not to visit the jail again, and Raja asks in rebuttal that if those outside (in the society) are good, why should he have to come inside (to the jail), mirrors many other Rajinikanth films where his character submits himself to the law and get punished as a routine, but does not generally feel guilty about his petty crimes, and is depicted to take for granted that minor offences are a part of daily living. Writing for Firstpost, Apoorva Sripathi noted that the various hand gestures Cho's character makes in one scene where he deliberates over his friend's predicament on why their friend Nallasivam lied to them about a crook, were actually symbols of the AIADMK, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Indian National Congress. She called this an example of Cho making references to politics in his films.
The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. Vaali wrote all the lyrics except those of "Jingidi Jingidi", which Ilaiyaraaja himself wrote. The song "Kandu Pudichen" is set in the carnatic raga known as Shubhapantuvarali, and attained popularity. Although songs set in Shubhapantuvarali are composed with melancholic overtones, "Kandu Pudichen" was made to be "playful" and "fun".
|1.||"Kandu Pudichen"||Vaali||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||04:34|
|2.||"Vaa Vaa Vanji"||Vaali||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:28|
|3.||"Naatkaalikku Sandai"||Vaali||Malaysia Vasudevan, Mano||04:30|
|4.||"Jingidi Jingidi"||Ilaiyaraaja||Mano, K. S. Chithra||04:27|
|5.||"Uthama Puthiri Naanu"||Vaali||Swarnalatha||04:13|
Release and reception
Guru Sishyan was released on 13 April 1988, during Puthandu (Tamil New Year) and was distributed by Mangaadu Amman Films. The overseas rights of the film were sold for ₹1 lakh (equivalent to ₹8.6 lakh or US$12,000 in 2018). On 29 April 1988, N. Krishnaswamy of The Indian Express wrote, "Rajinikanth and Prabhu enjoy to the hilt playing their light-hearted roles, lissom newface Gautami and short and square [Seetha] prance around with abandon. [Ilaiyaraaja's] numbers are pleasant and add sparkle to the song-and-dance sequences." Despite being released at a time when political turmoil was happening in Tamil Nadu after M. G. Ramachandran's death, the film became a commercial success, running for over 125 days in theatres.
Guru Sishyan made Gautami one of the most sought after actresses in Tamil cinema. Rajinikanth's broken English dialogues attained popularity such as "Excuse me" (pronounced "Es-kiss me" or "Yes kiss me"), him saying "underwear" instead of "understand", "jaundice" instead of "justice", and the scene where Guru and Babu perform a mock income tax raid, with Guru mistakenly saying "ABC" instead of "CBI". S. Rajanayagam writes that the imaging of Rajinikanth's politics can be seen in four phases, where the second covers "the period from Guru Sishyan (1988) to Baatshaa [sic] (1995)". A film of the same name was directed by Sakthi Chidambaram and released in 2010, but has a different story line from its 1988 namesake. Sakthi Chidambaram said, "the story demanded such a title, we short-listed 50 titles, finally decided we could use the old one". In Enkitta Mothathe (2017), "Naatkaalikku Sandai" plays in a theatre where, at the same time, there is a scuffle between Ravi (Natarajan Subramaniam) and Mandhramoorthy (Radha Ravi) on who is bigger.
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