Films | Movie Reviews | FILM – GUZAARISH


Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on November 21, 2010 | No Comments

DIRECTOR – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
WRITER – Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhavani Iyer
CAST – Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Monikangana Dutta, Shernaz Patel, Aditya Roy Kapoor.
MUSIC – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Bollywood’s tryst with disability continues. This time it is quadriplegia. It is big-budgetted and has big stars. Typical is this fascination of Bollywood with extreme illnesses. Probably because they give rise to deeply humane stories at the same time make for dense drama and the combination for mainstream Hindi films is a winner. With Guzaarish, Sanjay Leela Bhansali treads the same path of fascination, squeezing out every emotional and human aspect out of the physical condition. Just that this time, the film we get to see is not subservient to a star, to one emotion or singular purpose external to the film itself. That it comes together as a film sincerely told for the sake of it, is a wholesome experience in itself.

Guzaarish tells the story of a man in throes of quadriplegia for fourteen years. Once a successful magician, he has been confined to his bed after an accident paralysed him, fighting for his life and survival ever since. In this fight he has few people, loyal friends and his only support system; his doctor, his lawyer friend and his nurse. But after fourteen long years of struggling to live, his health is declining rapidly and with it his will to live. He asks his lawyer friend to file a petition for euthanasia or mercy killing so that he can end his life, a seamless torture.

The film in many ways is a fight for the right to die as much as it raises a toast to life. With defining moments Bhansali sketches the struggle of the self-made, strong-willed Ethan to get by simple things we take for granted. With equal ease he also sketches the indifference and insensitivity of the society (largely personified in the prosecutor) but fails to make a resoundingly balanced case, by reducing the prosecutor to a caricature and hence loading the argument on its emotional value completely.

But this downside is not what Guzaarish is about. Guzaarish is about a million other relationships, moments and strands of emotions that Bhansali plays and lets go sometimes with the finesse of a master musician and sometimes with the awkwardness of a newbie. His central character Ethan, played fantastically by Hrithik Roshan, is the embodiment of all things strong, dynamic and passionate. These very qualities are compressed into crushing frustration and interesting eccentricity turning the protagonist into a delightful maverick. His nurse and care-taker of twelve years Sophia, (played surprisingly in a controlled fashion by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is dedicated to taking care of him and is stern and soft at the same time. A lovely undefined relationship between them blossoms and goes into more beautiful realms that defines the humane-ness of the story.

Guzaarish is peppered with sparkling brilliance, touching sensitivity and inane superficiality. This remarkable combination is present throughout acting, characterisation, setting, screenplay and direction. If Bhansali the director shows flashes of brilliance and sensitivity along with an absurd shallowness so do Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. The Victorian setting and over-weaning period English sensibility in dialogue, communication and ambience confuses the senses and the ostentation seems forced given the mellifluous nature of the story and the way it plays out.

However, it is heart-tugging and spirit-lifting. If not for the fact that finally a big-budget extravaganza is true to its premise and its actors live upto the promise but for the fact that we get to see more than glimpses of the director who made Khamoshi but had traded the soul of emotion to the decadence of glamour and gory melodrama. Despite all the surrounding faults, in Guzaarish that soul bursts forth and that is a huge triumph.


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