By definition, the word “Guzaarish” means Request. So what exactly Sanjay Leela Bhansali is requesting his audiences to do? Is it an appeal to watch the film? Or a guzaarish to trust his sensibilities as a filmmaker post Saawariya? Whatever his request, he finds himself with a film whose expectations are perhaps too big even for SLB. As usual, the director takes on a huge canvas upon which he builds a world. To this world, he adds characters in the form of his favorite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan. So involved is the director in Guzaarish, that he decided to take on the role of music director too for the first time. But ultimately, it’s the entire package that audiences (and critics) look at when deciding the fate of a film. Slightly edgy, dark and somewhat gloomy, the promos spoke of loving life, mercy killing and euthanasia. However, the stars and director came out in unison to reiterate that the film was bright and full of life. And thus, to their Guzaarish, we saw ourselves march on over to catch SLB’s current offering.
In the heart of beautiful Goa, Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan) is a magician par excellence who finds himself paralyzed from the neck down and is now deemed a quadriplegic. He is cared for with immense attentiveness by Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and to keep himself sane, the ex-magician hosts a radio show at a radio station titled Radio Zindagi. Ethan also takes on an apprentice (Aditya Roy Kapur) who keeps him busy. But amidst the confined life, Ethan realizes he would prefer to leave it all and thus, realizes he wants to end his life. He calls on his attorney who takes on the case and presents it as euthanasia. While his friends debate the issue, Ethan sticks to his guns and finds himself determined to end his life.
For starters, there are few things I’d like to just touch upon. There is no such idea that a film is for the masses or for the metros or even for the intellects. A film is a film and especially in Hindi cinema where in history, such a divide has never occurred. And secondly, when a film like Guzaarish which deals with a number of moral and ethical issues, needs to be sensitive and how. When you bring subjects like euthanasia, mercy killing and even quadriplegics to the forefront, you better be damn sure you depict a correct picture of the pains they endure for them to feel the need to end their lives. And this brings me to the biggest problem of the Guzaarish: you don’t feel the anguish. As a film, it is presented to with utmost perfection; not even a petal in a scene will move incorrectly. That is precision with which Bhansali directs is phenomenal. You are literally put into a world that exists with a few people which is seamless in every which way. As a script however, it becomes a tad bit dull with the limited characters and the pace of the film. You almost fall into a slow trance which makes the film that much harder to engage into. The over usage of English, which is understandable as the characters are Christians in Goa, may hinder the crowds it draws even though the dialogues are interesting. But the passion is lacking and it is evident as you expected to shed tears while the emotions are lacking in the script. While the film is not a complete copy of a number of foreign films, it is more of a mixture of stolen scenes from those films.
Hrithik Roshan is the star of Guzaarish. It’s almost as though he is reborn with Guzaarish. He gets into the skin of Ethan to the extent that you believe that he is in fact him. His enactment of a confined man who feels the need to call it a day with life is simply outstanding. You cry for his choice, his emotions but more so because the man is just so gosh darn gorgeous! Aishwariya Rai Bachchan does well and lends good support. Although at times, she does look like sheer decoration in the house. But it is their chemistry that is worthy of praise. Three films down and the Roshan-Rai chemistry is still alive and kicking. The love story is an underlying part of the film but even without saying a single word, they manage to emote expressively. Aditya Roy Kapur is apt, Monikangana Dutta is barely there. The rest of the supporting cast walk in and out like the wind. The entire film is based on the Ethan and Sophia primarily.
The music questionable and while some of the tracks are incredible, others fail to create an impact.
Guzaarish aims to offer a number of requests: to love and live life, to endure pain and a request to be allowed to make choices in life.
Unfortunately, the impact is not as powerful as it could have been. And I refuse to be told, “Its one for the intellects.” That is hardly the truth. Guzaarish would have been a film more universal had it been perhaps more if it the issues had been handled more sympathetically. But you should watch Guzaarish; it makes for an interesting topic of debate.