Guzaarish: Slow death

November 19, 2010
Guzaarish: Prepare to die
At one point in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish”, the protagonist of the film, Ethan Fernandes, sings “it’s a wonderful world” while his mother is being buried. It’s a poignant moment, one where you feel the pain of the man. It’s also one of the very few genuine moments you will find in the film.
Everything else, like Aishwarya’s Rai make-up in the film, seems fake and loud, and as a result, puts you off. The emotions, the set design, the dialogues, Hrithik Roshan’s beard are all out of this world, residing in some alien world that only Bhansali inhabits. I’m from Goa (where the film is set) and I can assure you, I don’t know of too many Goan women who wear Victorian skirts, have elaborate hairdo’s and bright lipstick, all the while nursing a paraplegic man. Actually, I don’t if women anywhere do that.
The said paraplegic man is played by Hrithik Roshan, a former magician, who after a magic trick gone wrong, is paralysed from neck down and confined to a wheelchair for the last twelve years, we are told. He seems unfazed by his plight though, hosting a radio show from his run-down mansion, with the help of his loyal nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai, wearing said Victorian skirts and lipstick), who, when she is not helping him brush his teeth, is primly embroidering sheets.
One minute he is telling listeners to live life to the fullest and the next, he asks his lawyer friend (Shernaz Patel) to file a euthanasia (or as he calls is Ethanasia) petition in the court, asking for permission to die. The rest of the film chronicles his efforts in this direction. It is also peppered with more characters that seem out of the world, including a young man keen to learn magic and talk as loudly as he can (Aditya Roy Kapoor), Ethan’s doctor, Dr Nayak (Suhel Seth), and Ehtan’s mother, who says she cares for her son very much, but lives far away from him, never calling or visiting.
The problem with all of this is that it seems designed to get your sympathy. The fly on Ethan’s nose, him getting drenched because of a leaking roof, the death of his mother, the accident, all of it seems too melodramatic, too put on. It’s almost as if Bhansali is determined to extract every little tear hidden in yours eyes. The only one’s he managed to extract out of mine was when I was laughing at the sight of Suhel Seth jumping into Ethan’s bed to hug him.
You are never told the reason why Ethan decides to die after twelve years of living life as a paraplegic. What triggered the decision? The climax gives us no answers, instead we are subjected to a long “thank you” speech, which is boring to say the least.
In a film with over-the-top performances (watch Patel have a row with Rai, all the while nibbling a slice of bread and some tea and you will know what I mean), Hrithik Roshan is the saving grace. He bring a trace of sanity to Ethan’s sometimes crazy behaviour, and uses his face to convey his emotions so well that you are almost willing to forgive him the crazy laughter and the Jesus-like appearance.
He is the only reason to watch this film.
guzaarish

At one point in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish”, the protagonist of the film Ethan Fernandes sings “it’s a wonderful world” while his mother is being buried. It’s a poignant moment, one where you feel the pain of the man. It’s also one of the very few genuine moments you will find in the film.

Everything else, like Aishwarya Rai’s make-up, seems fake and loud, and puts you off. The emotions, the set design, the dialogues, Hrithik Roshan’s beard are all out of this world, residing in some alien planet that only Bhansali inhabits.

I’m from Goa (where the film is set) and I can assure you, I don’t know of too many Goan women who wear Victorian skirts, have elaborate hairdos and bright lipstick, all the while nursing a paraplegic man. Actually, I don’t know if women anywhere do that.

The said paraplegic man is played by Hrithik Roshan, a former magician, who after a magic trick gone wrong, is paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair for the last twelve years, we are told.

He seems unfazed by his plight though, hosting a radio show from his run-down mansion, with the help of his loyal nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai, wearing said Victorian skirts and lipstick), who, when she is not helping him brush his teeth, is primly embroidering sheets.

One minute he is telling listeners to live life to the fullest and the next, he asks his lawyer friend (Shernaz Patel) to file a euthanasia petition in the court, asking for permission to die. The rest of the film chronicles his efforts in this direction.

It is also peppered with more characters that seem out of the world, including a young man keen to learn magic and talk as loudly as he can (Aditya Roy Kapoor), Ethan’s doctor Dr Nayak (Suhel Seth), and Ethan’s mother who says she cares for her son very much, but lives far away from him, never calling or visiting.

The problem with all this is that it seems designed to get your sympathy. The fly on Ethan’s nose, him getting drenched because of a leaking roof, the death of his mother, the accident, all of it seems too melodramatic, too put-on.

It’s almost as if Bhansali is determined to extract every little tear hidden in your eyes. The only ones he managed to extract out of mine was when I was laughing at the sight of Suhel Seth jumping into Ethan’s bed to hug him.

You are never told the reason why Ethan decides to die after twelve years of living life as a paraplegic. What triggered the decision? The climax gives us no answers, instead we are subjected to a long “thank you” speech, which is boring to say the least.

In a film with over-the-top performances (watch Patel have a row with Rai, all the while nibbling a slice of bread and some tea and you will know what I mean), Hrithik Roshan is the saving grace. He brings a trace of sanity to Ethan’s sometimes crazy behaviour, and uses his face to convey his emotions so well that you are almost willing to forgive him the crazy laughter and the Jesus-like appearance.

He is the only reason to watch this film.

4 comments

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From the TV promos of the movie, I had put the following comment on the IMDB website: “I am quite sure that it will be a copy of Amenabar’s Oscar Winning film of 2004. SLB is a highly pretentious individual with not a single original bone in his frame. As is the case with his earlier films, the mounting will be more substantial and detailed than the picture. You can bet that the colours will be deep, the sets loud, the acting hugely exaggerated. There is no understatement in SLB films. That is why I feel a huge talent like Hrithik will end up as a caricature like Amitabh in Black. The music, however, appears to be the redeeming feature. It remains to be seen how it integrates with the story and its narrative. I have a sneaking feeling that the audio CD will be more rewarding than the DVD.” Looks like my prognosis is borne out by your comment.

Posted by Vijayadar | Report as abusive

There wasn’t much hope after watching the trailors and the little that was left has now evaporated after reading this review. I hope that the next film of SLB isn’t as bad as the last few. I wonder why all his films while attempting to create a portrayal of the real world always manage to look so alien. Or maybe I need to up my artistic quotient to appreciate it. Let’s hope Bollywood has something to tempt us with soon.

Posted by Gobblygook | Report as abusive

You know it could have been a half-decent story had Mr.B not got so obsessed with making everything look like a picture postcard right down to that blue car driving thru yellow fields of sarson or whatever. Aishwarya was played by her wax statue, I think. If anyone beats SLB at being self-obsessed, its probably her. Poor Hrithik tried gamely but it was a bit much for him. That kabaddi moment with everyone jumping into bed with H cracked me up too.

But you need to find out where I can get the blue shade on Hrithiks walls. Was the only good thing in this saga for me.

Posted by Vinyl | Report as abusive

Hi Shilpa, I am back after a year on Reuters. I have read almost every reviews posted by you. Till date you didn’t like any movies. Surprised… Anyways, as per TOI “A film like GUZAARISH isn’t made for the Box Office. Its made for the gratification of the senses. And that it does, in ample measures.I know everyone wants to become a critics writer. But its for everyone, guys just be what you are. Don’t show your unwanted and waste talent.. Thanks..

Posted by DKKZM | Report as abusive