TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Guzaarish

Before commenting about the film, one must take note that our Hindi film industry has been inclining towards rare diseases ranging from dyslexia (Taare Zameen Par) to progeria (Paa) and many others. And this is what I truly call the ‘herd-walk’ that Bollywood has been following for long.

That said, however, does not take away from the sensory and sensitive portrayal of a quadriplegic with a death wish! After very long, Sanjay Leela Bhansali returns with Guzaarish! Simply translated, it would mean ‘request’. It is a request for euthanasia. Again, one must remember that a setting like this puts the film as a slow starter in terms of box office collections, unless of course there are histrionics like Aamir Khan did with his anterograde amnesia in Ghajini or SRK did with his asperger syndrome in MNIK.

Now, let us talk of expectations.

When we go in to watch a SLB film, we want to see poetic frames and meticulous screenplay –  and one is definitely not disappointed. Bhansali portrays Goa as a painting! The symmetry and poetry in each frame is immaculate!  

One expects good music, and Bhansali did strike a chord. He has turned a music director with this film and has certainly done well, with even a song sung by Hrithik!. One admires the ‘cross-fluence’ of operatic singing with Hindi lyrics. I was delighted by the use of the Charlie Chaplin composed song ‘Smile’ which Michael Jackson re-wrote for his Greatest Hits album HIS-tory.

Speaking of the two greats, I must point out that this time, the presence of Chaplin and Jackson was evident as Bhansali presented Hrithik as a famed magician Ethan. The stage setting was very ‘Vaudeville‘; with the director’s penchant for the glorious old days of theatre and some bits of the protagonist’s life. The stage setting, spot-lighting and shadow play of silhouettes was immensely Jackson, and any long-standing fan of MJ would  know the frames.

One particular scene where baby Ethan was mouthing the song his mother was singing on stage was well inspired from Sir Richard Attenborough’s classic biopic ‘Chaplin‘ where Chaplin’s mother was boo-ed off the stage and the 5-year old held the stage on his own. Thankfully Bhansali had the good sense not to paste the scene, frame by frame.

Another positive when one watches a SLB production is acting. I still hold on to my opinion that SLB can make Aishwarya Rai act. So he did, this time as well. Hrithik was superlative, and the film definitely was focussed on him. He brought a certain dignity to the role of an erstwhile magician, who after an accident, lost sensation in all his limbs and after 14 years of struggling and living as a paraplegic radio jockey, wants to end his life and free himself of all suffering. Caution here for viewers: do not glamourise all paraplegics like what you see in this film. Hrithik put on weight for his role and definitely worked hard to make you believe that his body is impervious to touch or capable of any movement. The rest of the cast very ably supported the two.

Guzaarish manages to hold on to you only because the narrative of the film was masterfully constructed. A good story-teller always holds your imagination and then you don’t mind a small lapse of reality. I am thankful that there were no liberties taken in dealing with a sensitive issue of mercy killing or euthanasia. 

As for negatives, there aren’t many. Just that the film felt more of a play in a theatre than a real life docu-drama. Maybe that was thought-out by the director and his team. The length of the film could have been cut short a bit. A few sub-plots could have been sacrificed and left for imagination.

And finally, the note on which the film ended disappointed me. The ‘conspiracy’ hatched by Hrithik and Aishwarya certainly would have impacted all that the film showed in its two hours plus capacity. I feel that it should not have been left to imagination.

Overall, a must-watch. Not an ‘Anand’ but certainly a memorable film. Commercially, Guzaarish might not be a success as the film alienates the masses with the usage of English and the fact that poetry was never the bread of the common man.

One of Bhansali’s best. Watch it!

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