While watching Katrina Kaif gyrating to “Chikni Chameli”, more than halfway through Karan Malhotra’s “Agneepath”, I couldn’t help but wonder about the similarities between the song and the film. Both are adaptations of an original product (“Chikni Chameli” has been adapted from a popular Marathi song), both have ample production value and some great moves, but they are also ample proof that remaking an original may not always work.
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.
At the launch of the first look of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offering “Guzaarish”, it came as a surprise that the trailer didn’t have any hint of the songs. Instead, it was just a melody that served as a background. Given the memorable music of his earlier films, there are a lot of expectations from this one. But the director does have a reason for keeping the music under wraps a little longer, because there is a brand new music director making his debut — Bhansali himself. The director says he didn’t want to pass on the “deep thoughts” the characters would be expressing musically in the film to someone else. “Only I can understand what my characters feel the best. So I thought it was best that I score the music for the film,” he said. In “Guzaarish”, Hrithik Roshan plays a magician who becomes paraplegic after a stunt goes wrong while Aishwarya Rai stars as his lady love. The film opens in cinemas on Nov 19. “Guzaarish” also marks the Bollywood debut of model Monikangana Dutta and will be important for Bhansali, coming as it does three years after his much-hyped “Saawariya” failed at the box-office.