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Guru from the branding lens. | Slangbusters Blog
Sep 10, '20

Guru from the branding lens.

Films that are made on successful businesses often have a great backstory and a great backstory is one of those rare ingredients that give a tasteful and timeless aspect to brands.

Abhishek Bachhan, in an interview, said 2007 was his landmark year. It is not a coincidence that his best, and probably the only film that highlights his acting skills, Guru was released this year. It did feel like a Bachhan lineage was on screen. There was a lot of Amitabh in Abhishek.

Back to branding. Films like Guru are classic examples of films based on the business world, the world of entrepreneurs full of interesting backstories of people who never gave up. These are not just stories of financial success, these are stories of overcoming constant failures, personal hurdles, and most importantly (through the branding lens) the story of why they started what they started. We get to know where they come from, what their vision and mission is, and the reason for their existence.

The filmmaker(s)

Mani Ratnam, India’s cinematic gem was responsible for bringing this story to the silver screens. Not just direction, but the writing was also done by the maestro, although inspired by the life and story of the richest capitalist, industrialist, business mogul of India, Dhirubhai Ambani.

There is usually a gap between what a writer has in mind and how the director interprets it. It is through my personal experience that I have noticed (could be biased) but whenever a film is written and directed by the same person, it has a sense of purity in the sense nothing is lost in translation. The usual gap is seen between the logistical possibility of the shoot, location, etc. This film being produced by Mani Ratnam as well, makes this gap also negligible. The film could be the closest to what the writer pictured in their mind.

Guru stars Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, R. Madhavan, Vidya Balan, Arya Babbar, and Mithun Chakraborty in the leading roles. The film also has Mallika Sherawat in a guest appearance.

Fun fact: The film was dubbed and released simultaneously in Tamil as Guru and in Telugu as Gurukanth. In the Tamil version of the film, the lead role (Abhishek Bachchan) was dubbed by Suriya. The film was released on 12 January 2007 with its première at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, Canada, on Thursday 11 January 2007, making it the first Indian film to have a mainstream international première in Canada. The film was premiered in the Tous Les Cinemas du Monde (World Cinema) section of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It went on to win many awards for film direction, cinematography, music, lyrics, and even choreography.

Music by A.R. Rehman and lyricist Gulzar have collaborated to create the album that perfectly adds a tasteful something to the story.

Just like a good brand is built with the best artists, something similar happens in a film. A good team can bring the story to life if they clearly see why the story is worth being told, just like ‘why’ a brand exists.

Spoiler Alert

Skip this part if you have not watched the film yet. Read it, if you are also a part of the industry trying to find a parallel between your love for films and for branding.

There are a lot of character traits that make Guru the ideal client that a branding studio would love to collaborate with. Someone with a story, passion for the business they are in, someone with experience both as the employee and as a proprietor, trust on their partners along with their own gut, etc.

A still from Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007)

Gurukant literally also had a five-year plan which he was able to translate into a lifetime plan for the brand. His difficulties, mentorship from nanaji, acknowledgment, and reference towards his roots throughout the film, Guru’s respect and a never forget attitude for those who helped him, and a very strong community approach rather than a top to bottom tier approach for his team, his stakeholders. This is the ideal character sketch of a client that gives raw material enough to their branding partners to create a timeless brand.

A still from Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007)

Easter eggs in the film

Apart from Shakti corporation, there was another brand that shone through in the film, The Independent. Although, the fact that it is an actual newspaper brand based in the UK would have helped it have such a strong vision and even stronger naming and masthead of the newspaper. Given Shakti Corporation’s poor identity, while viewing through the ‘branding lens’, The Independent Shone through.

Within the screenplay, some concepts were poetic. While the audience is confused over whose side they are taking when they realize Guru’s business had many illegal systems that were making it so, there was much more going on between the lines. A cold war between polyester and khadi was semiotic to help you chose sides was a wonderful overtone.

Apart from considering employees, and shareholders of the company as Shakti Parivaar (Shakti family) was a wee bit cliche, it might have been a good strategy to gain trust at times of difficulty for the company. Had the Shakti Corporation logo been stronger, it would have been a wonderful case study.

The business Gurukant Desai was doing was a formula. Him being a Gujarati in this business made it more obvious. His approach was the brand.

A still from Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007)

We are analyzing films because what is a good brand if not a good story? Stories have the power to be timeless because that is how generations communicate, culture and heritage travels, along with the learning curve people experience whenever they consume a good story.

There are parallels in all good art. All you have to do is notice the nuance.

Do you relate to good stories? Do you have a great story of your business? Would you like to create a brand out of it? Call us now! There is no bad time for a good story at Slangbusters Studio.

— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio

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