Director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Producers – Ronnie Screwvala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast – Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Rajit Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Nafisa Ali, Monikangana Dutta, Suhel Seth,
Music – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cinematography – Sudeep Chatterjee
Editor – Hemal Kothari
Screenplay, Dialogues – Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhavani Iyer, Vibhu Puri
Background Score – Tubby
Release Date – 19th November 2010.
I was quite turned off by the promos and song visuals of Guzaarish that I saw on TV so far. I thought Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali was making the same mistake of being over-indulgent like he did in Saawariya. The movie looked like it was inspired from Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Prestige from the visuals of the magic shows in the promos. The music also didn’t impress me much except for a couple of songs on the first hearing. Yet, I wanted to watch the movie for Hrithik Roshan and the stunning visuals that has become Bhansali’s trademark. And when I watched it today, I realized I was so wrong about the movie.
Guzaarish tells the story of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), a famed magician who turned into a quadriplegic after a fatal accident during one of his shows. He has been going through the pain and suffering of living a completely paralyzed life for 14 long years. He is completely dependent on his caretaker/nurse for 12 years, Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) who gave up everything in her life to look after Ethan. Ethan hosts a radio show through which he inspires the people of Goa to live their lives fully, but on the other hand, he wants to end his miserable life full of suffering. So he requests his advocate friend Devayani (Shrenaz Patel) to appeal for Euthanasia aka mercy killing to the court. In the meanwhile, an enthusiastic Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) also lands at Ethan's mansion to learn magic from him. Guzaarish tells the story of Ethan and his relationships with these few people in his life.
The storyline of Guzaarish is almost completely lifted from an Academy Award winning Spanish movie The Sea Inside  (No, I havent seen it, I read up the synopsis on IMDB. :P) making it Bhansali's second film on disability lifted from a foreign feature film. And the various sub-plots are lifted from various other films. If Rani Mukherji could not see, hear or speak in Black, those are the only things that Hrithik Roshan can do in Guzaarish, as he is completely paralyzed below his neck. Even though the film is not original, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has managed to create a beautiful picture out of the source material with some great performances, touching moments and stunning cinematography. There are several moments in Guzaarish which make you smile utilizing Hindi Cinema’s best charm – the feel good factor, and there are many others which make your eyes moist. And yes, he has utilized his passion for narrating his stories opulently, Broadway style, just like he did in Saawariya, but he has used it better this time around for a much more engaging story. While Saawariya remained a showreel for Ravi K Chandran’s cinematography, Omung Kumar’s art direction and Monty’s music, Guzaarish is more than just that.
But the film is not devoid of faults. Bhansali’s films have always been detached from reality and Guzaarish is no different. The film is set is supposed to be set in present day Goa, but it is drastically different from the Goa we have seen on screen so far. His trademark melodrama also seeps in time and again and goes to great heights during a silly group hug in the closing shot, which one can tolerate only because of Hrithik’s great performance. The major issue with the writing is that the audience cannot identify with Ethan’s plea for Euthanasi in spite of all the characters and Ethan himself talking about his pain and suffering several times. Guzaarish begins like a feel good movie which you think would have a very positive ending which would leave you with a smile. But when it actually gets over, one is confused whether he/she should feel happy or sad about what happened in the end. Another aspect is that, the relationship between Ethan and his student Omar is never explored. It had such great potential to be a great influence on Ethan’s life. But it is not developed beyond a point. Bhansali doesn’t show how Ethan passes on his magic tricks to Omar, and conveniently tells us by the end that Omar has learned all of Ethan’s tricks and has become a great magician himself. This angle certainly needed to be developed in a better way, especially when there was a back story of why Omar came to Ethan. In spite of all this, the movie strikes a chord with the audience, and that is the director’s success. The dialogues by Vibhu Puri and Bhavani Iyer are very good.
Hrithik Roshan gives a mesmerizing performance as Ethan Mascarenhas. Acting out such a part where there is absolutely no scope for body language, since the character is paralyzed, is extremely difficult. And Hrithik has come up trumps by using only his face and dialogue delivery and gives us his second best performance (his best still has to be Jodhaa Akbar). All the awards should come pouring in pretty soon. After the dismal show of his previous film Kites, the actor is back with a stunning performance which only an actor of his calibre can deliver. If there’s one reason which you should watch Guzaarish for, it is Hrithik Roshan.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is very good. This year, there has been an overdose of Aishwarya through Raavan/Raavanan, Enthiran, Action Replayy and now Guzaarish. She looked stunning in Enthiran and Action Replayy, but in Guzaarish, her looks are not that impressive, and she messes it up with some really unwanted (in this movie at least, :P) display of cleavage and the bright red lipstick that she sports in almost all the scenes. Come on, she’s a home nurse, for God’s sake!! If home nurses were to look like Aishwarya Rai, almost all the men in the country would willingly fall ill. Her wonderful chemistry with co-star Hrithik, evident in their earlier films like Dhoom:2 and Jodhaa Akbar is still intact. Watch out for the scene where Hrithik pretends to be aroused and Aishwarya responds to it with some naughty moans. Its an instant classic. Aishwarya’s acting is great, but is completely overshadowed by the absolutely brilliant performance of Shernaz Patel who plays Hrithik’s advocate. Shernaz is excellent as Ethan’s friend and lawyer who has to fight for his death plea in spite of being against it. Aditya Roy Kapoor is impressive in a loosely written role that had so much more potential. Rajit Kapoor, Nafisa Ali and Suhel Seth are good.
Each frame in the movie is a masterpiece. Sudeep Chatterjee, take a bow!! The frames are designed in such a way that they look stunning, no matter what the content of the scene is. The cinematographer and art director along with the costume designer have worked hard to give an amazing look to the film. And unlike Saawariya, the film is not saturated with any colour. Most of the colours are muted and dull, just like Ethan’s world and the only instances where the movie gets colourful are the ones where Ethan is taken out of his mansion. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music was not great when listened to as an independent soundtrack, but when the songs play out in the movie; they work very well for the film. He always had a great taste for music and that has been evident in all his films so far. ‘Tera Zikr’ is the pick of the lot and the beautiful ‘Sau Gram Zindagi’ reflects Ethan’s life. The brilliantly choreographed ‘Udi’ has Aishwarya showing off her dancing skills yet again. But the brilliance of a usual SLB movie soundtrack is sorely missed. The film is credited to four production designers and the effort is definitely shown. The background score is decent.
Bhansali has plagiarized a great plot and made it into a fairly good movie, with some serious faults in the writing department, which the which the master craftsman that he is, managed to camouflage to a certain extent. Picture perfect cinematography, opulent sets, good music, some beautiful moments and most importantly, Hrithik Roshan’s stunning performance make Guzaarish a worthy watch which you wouldn’t regret spending your time on. Definitely one of the better films of the year.
Rating – 3.5/5