While Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish leaves no stone unturned to make you feel the pain of a quadriplegic man and even sways you to some extent, this highly intimate film strangely maintains a certain kind of distance that never allows you to become a part of the journey.
After a super dud called Saawariya, Bhansali returns with the done to death basic formula that has been the source of his cinematic existence and even though Guzaarish ventures into overdrive mode every now and then it, thankfully, treads cautiously. Exploring the trails of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), a former magician who meets with an accident that confines him to a wheelchair for a better part of his life, the film starts off rather well and gets into the thick of things without wasting any time. After fourteen long years of suffering a spinal injury and his health deteriorating, Ethan decides to end his life. Much to the shock of his doctor (Suhel Seth) and the anger of caretaker Sofia (Aishwariya Rai-Bachchan) Ethan asks his lawyer, Devyani Dutta (Shernaz Patel), to file a plea for euthanasia. In between hosting his own radio show and going about everyday life that includes a liberal dose of flirting with Sofia, Ethan also decides to teach magic to Omar Siddique (Aditya Roy Kapoor), a Raj Kapooresque tramp like character who arrives unannounced at the Mascarenhas House.
The initial brisk twenty minutes done Guzaarish jumps between sequences that don't really add anything substantial to the basic plot. A series of flashbacks inter-cut with lyrically choreographed shots through the Portuguese mansion Ethan resides in reveal snippets- his mother, his ex-flame, etc. from Ethan's life follow and just bon the basis of that we are supposed to fall in love with his man. Ethan who had inspired millions since his accident through his radio show and writing a book, starts using his show to garner public support in his favor before challenging the court's order that dismissed his plea. People from all walks of Goan life call in and inspire him to carry on while he tries to find someone who will understand his plight. True to the rules of high drama the approval comes in the form of Estella (a finely carved piece of wood called Monikangana Dutta), his ex-flame who had left him on his request and Mama Isabel Mascarenhas (Nafisa Ali) who suddenly and surreally reappears.
Pitfalls in Guzaarish
No one portrays suffering better than Sanjay Leela Bhansal but to think that watching the anguish of a wheelchair bound Hrithik Roshan for two hours is reason good enough for Guzaarish to work is completely off the mark. Roshan's acting skills do immensely contribute to Bhansali's vision of Ethan but one wished there were something more than a handful of scenes that would help the viewer feel the man's pain. Yes there are scenes like an unattended Ethan falling off the bed, rain drops from the roof drenching a helpless Ethan and an Ethan lying next to his dead mother who dies as unexpectedly as she has appeared but these moments are fleeting and few.
One of the good things about Guzaarish that works like a charm is the sheer chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Aishwariya Rai-Bachchan. These two actors are so tuned in that Bhansali is not only able to create wonderful moments between the two but also uses them liberally in montages peppered throughout the film. On her own Rai-Bachchan looks unlike a nurse and over emotes while Roshan constantly reminds himself to be the uber cool full of beans Ethan who will live it up no matter what. Shernaz Patel mostly gets it right but Seth goes from bad to worse as the film progresses. Annoying at times but passable, Aditya Roy Kapoor is like the classic Sanjay Leela Bhansli hero; a cross between Salman Khan from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya.
Final Words on Guzaarish
The other problem with Guzaarish besides not being able to connect with the characters is the screenplay that becomes senseless at places. If Ethan knew that Omar was the son of Yasser Siddique (Ash Chandler), his competitor and the man responsible for his accident, and if its revelation wasn't going to have any impact on the film or on the characters then let it slip towards the end? Even the scene where Omar is surreptitiously talking to someone about how he has won Ethan's confidence has no meaning for we never get to know who was on the other end of the line. But in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's world such things don't matter. What matter is living life to the fullest even it's just 100 grams! All in all Guzaarish isn't all that bad but then it's not worth dying for.
Guzaarish Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Shernaz Patel, Nafisa Ali, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Monikangana Dutta and Suhel Seth.
Guzaarish Screenplay by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Bhavani Iyer
Guzaarish Music & Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Guzaarish RATING: 2 / 5
Guzaarish Genre: Romance / Drama