Apparently I am on a video viewing rampage it seems. How interesting that it just happens to coincide with my last trip to the video store. I've several to write up, but I think I'm going to start with my latest, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish.

I remember seeing the first sneak peaks and trailers for this film and at once thought it looked beautifully intriguing. Then the music was released and I was completely underwhelmed. Only one song spoke to me, and the rest nearly put me to sleep. I belong to a small percentage of people I'm sure who are averse to kiss the ground SLB walks on. Of his films that I've seen I've only really enjoyed HDDCS (and yes, that does include Devdas), but after the disaster that was Saawariya, I was reluctant to go on another journey with the director, regardless of who was in it.

When the trailers were airing I'd heard stories that the movie was going to unwind similarly along the lines of the magical drama The Prestige. After the film was released there was apparently a slough on controversy over the main theme of the story, a smoking scene with Aish, alleged plagiarism of Indian writer Dayanand Rajan's unpublished novel Summer Snow and the similarity between the film and the 2004 Spanish film The Sea Inside. They say any publicity is good publicity, but even with all that, the film didn't do well at the box office, and it's a real tragedy because Guzaarish it really is an incredibly touching and lovely film!

Simply put, the story is about one man's pursuit to achieve the final word on his life. Quadriplegic for 14 years, Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik) decides to take matters into his own hands and appeal to the courts, with the aid of his best friend and lawyer Devyani, for euthanasia. The film also follows the close relationship between Ethan and his long time nurse, Sophia (Aishwarya). Instead of getting into the political matters of mercy killings, which I'm sure it was SLB's intention to perhaps shed some light on the taboo subject, I'd rather talk about the moments in this film that left a lasting impression on me.

One might think that a film about a man's quest to live and end his life with dignity might be a sombre affair, but the dialogues are peppered with humour, and it's these exchanges that really make you fall in love with Ethan's character. You'd think that a person who had to deal with the unfortunate after effects of an accident that left you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life would be bitter and cynical perhaps, but Ethan tends to looks at situations differently, using his experiences to help enhance the lives of others with his inspirational book and radio show, and attacking his own mishaps with a dry wit. One of my favorite scenes takes place right after Ethan nearly falls out of bed.

I suppose it is a combination of brilliant direction and acting that, as a viewer, you feel empathy for your protagonist when watching any kind of movie dealing with disabilities. When I watched the scene where Ethan was faced with a leaky roof, I thought my heart was going burst with compassion for the man. One second I am welling up over how completely tragic and desperate the moment is, then, once again I am laughing at how he seems to overcome it all with his amazing humor.

When Hrithik said he was going to lend his voice to a song in Kites, I thought "Cool!", then I listened to it and thought, "Boy, how I wished he hadn't done that". In Guzaarish he lends his pipes to another song. However, this time it was poignant and what turned out to be a very special moment in the movie for me! SPOILER ALERT Ethan sings, as a tribute to his mother at her funeral, What A Wonderful World, with such meaning that you don't care that he's not a playback singer. It's intended to be a personal acknowledgement to the bond they shared, and it's incredibly touching. The song has special meaning to me as well, as it was played also at my step-father's funeral. Beautiful.


I have to say that I was really relieved with the look of this film, and by that I mean it was colorful! Beautiful crisp vivid colors in almost every shot. Bright reds, glorious greens and, yes there was some calming blues in there too. What SLB managed to bring out in a lot of the film was a total ethereal quality. The scenes where Ethan flashes back to his days as a magician are really stunning. Cinematically speaking, it really is a lovely film to watch.

I'd said that when the OST was released, I wasn't sure of the songs in the film, except for Udi, which was instantly catchy. However, in the context of the story, each and every song works wonderfully and is, perhaps, one of the best examples of how a film and music work symbiotically together in perfect harmony. Even the background score is beautiful and does exactly as it should, enhancing the mood of the film in every frame it plays.

I love the Spanish vibe to this tune. I love Sophie's ability to let loose a little bit and I LOVE Ethan's response to it!

This film, even with all it's beauty and song, would be nothing without the absolutely brilliant acting done by each and every person yielding a script. It's quite a large cast of supporting players, but it's Shernaz Patel (Devyani Dutta) who stands out to me as the best friend/lawyer. Both sympathetic to her friends cause, battling it out in court, and saddened to know that if she wins it ultimately means the end of her friendship, Shernaz plays the torn woman well. Aditya Roy Kapoor plays Omar Siddique, the young hopeful magician who weasels his way into Ethan's home but ends up being the recipient of all of his tricks. I just saw Adi in Action Replayy (which I'm not quite finished yet), and thought he was capable, if you can look past that giant mop of a hairdo! I can see him with a successful supporting character career.

Aish was beautiful, of course, in this film, and she does a wonderful job as Ethan's nurse. You can tell that their relationship runs deeper than the standard nurse/patient relationship and it's her resounding quietness that demonstrates just how much she cares about him, especially during the scene where she is being attacked by the court's prosecutor.

However, this film belongs to Hrithik. It is a daunting task to take on a role, I would imagine, that requires you to sit in a chair, immobile (with the exception of a few minutes of film) with nothing but your face to convey what you are going through. Hrithik was able to express everything, love, anger, depression, happiness all with his face, and he was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!! And you know what?! The "Jesus" hair that he had to sport for so long that everyone gave him SUCH a hard time about, well you don't even notice it. I mean, you notice it, but you don't care. This role did nothing but solidify why Hrithik is one of India's top superstars and why he is one of my favorite actors! Also if you are looking for a hot Hrithik, you do get one in the magic flashbacks.

No, SLB, it is I that is having a love story with you. You took a tough subject, treated it with extreme care and made a film just so lovely it's a crime that people didn't embrace it as I have. Oh, sure, it has a few flaws, but I'm not going to talk about them. What I'm going to take away from this film is that love, and life, are precious as long as you live by what makes you happiest.

One sidenote: I saw a film a long time ago that tackled a similar subject called It's My Party about a man that has to cope with the lasting complications of advanced AIDS. If you liked Guzaarish, you should definitely check out this American film.

5 Response to "Guzaarish"

  1. Lime(tte) says:
    April 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    I also enjoyed watching Guzaarish, but I don't agree on Shernaz Patel and Aditya Roy Kapoor. I think they were both awful, especially Aditya.

  2. Jules says:
    April 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Really enjoyed your review of this sis. I really enjoyed the film too, though I'm still perplexed as to why I wasn't crying rives along side you. Must have something to do with my work background or something. It really was a teriffic film!

  3. Shell says:
    April 9, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    @Lime(tte) - Aditya seems to have rubbed people the wrong way. I heard a lot of comments about how annoying he was in Action Replayy as well. I honestly didn't mind him.

    @Jules - You have a heart of stone, dear sister! lol. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if you didn't reach for the kleenex. On to the next one!

  4. The Bolly Hood says:
    June 6, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    Aditya was annoying, he didn't really suit the film. I found the times Ethan wanting to see Sophia's legs funny... a wish unfulfilled...

    The magic tricks were just over the top - probably not even possible.

    Love the soundtrack - especially Udi, Guzaarish and Tera Zikr.

    Shell have you checked out my blog?

  5. Shell says:
    June 6, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    I've seen some incredible levitation tricks done by Criss Angel. Magic fascinates me!

    Yes, I have checked out your blog (I've added you to my blogroll dear!) I don't get much time to travel the blogosphere these days but I do enjoy your posts!)