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A feast for the eyes

anuj kumar
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consummate performers Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in ‘Guzaarish'
consummate performers Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan in ‘Guzaarish'

H e creates his own reality and we have accepted it. He doesn't talk of the finites, his cinema is something that is not watched but experienced but hello, Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali cinema is not about a string of exquisite canvases hung in an art gallery, where we can conjure up our own story from start to finish. Here the director puts the frames in a certain context, a definitive setting and we expect the master puppeteer to justify the actions of his performers in that particular milieu. If the abstract fails to touch the strings of the heart, engage the vessels of the brain, it is as good as absurd. This is Guzaarish — a feast for the eyes, the heart finds it well-garnished but the mind returns famished.

It promises to raise the bar of Hindi cinema by giving a voice to the paraplegics, their right to live or not live. And in Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Bhansali has performers to live up to his dreams. No doubt, some of the moments between the quadriplegic magician and his utterly stunning nurse are absolute magic. A film about the life of a magician is expected to have plenty of tricks but it's the consistent magic of the unsaid that sustains the narrative. Yes, it is hard to believe a ‘sister' like Sophia exists for the way she dresses in Sabyasachi's pieces of art with necklines plunging tantalisingly close to titillate the patient, who can't feel the touch. Of course, it is difficult to digest a paraplegic, whose lungs are about to give way, still retains a commanding voice. He has the best of medical equipments at his disposal but the vibrant soul loves to call out for his nurse at the top of his voice at the dead of the night when a bell would have been a much convenient option. Somebody who hosts a radio show from his bungalow doesn't have a generator! Startling flaws, but it is something we love to ignore with Bhansali because the man knows how to indulge you in moments denuded of pretences. They are in good supply as Bhansali builds up his magic in enchanting Goa with tunes that hit at the right spot.

You want to grasp the last gram of life, when Ethan makes peace with the fly on his nose, with raindrops on his temple. The heart misses a beat when Sofia breaks into an impromptu jig or takes on the judge in the court. Hrithik is pure delight as the witty and sharp Ethan painted with Jesuit nobility meticulously contrasted with sudden bursts of vulnerability in times of sexual or emotional urge. Aishwarya is a picture of grace and vitality who gives into her emotions once in a while. For once, she gets a scale that goes with her beauty and she plays along. In fact, the relationship is the reason you give in and then get addicted to Bhansali's request.

But by the second half the act is scuttled by some really poor writing where the scriptwriter takes ludicrous leaps to justify the actions of a man willing to embrace death. The story has almost everything to play with, yet the end result is muddled.

The issue of euthanasia and the ensuing court battle is handled in a puerile fashion. Then the hurried revelation of Sofia's past doesn't suit her personality and Ethan's verbosity bordering on crankiness doesn't suit his condition. In fact, his final decision is manipulative and against the very moral fabric he is preaching through the film. In a sense Bhansali fails to build up on the build up so much so that in the farewell sequence instead of having a lump in the throat, one breaks into a grin. Bad, for discreet emotional manipulation is the biggest strength of Bhansali.

anuj kumar

GUZAARISH Genre: Romance/Drama Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Monikangna Dutta Plot: Fourteen years after he got severely injured when one of his tricks went wrong, accomplished magician Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik) applies for mercy killing. His decision challenges his enigmatic relationship with his beautiful nurse Sofia (Aishwarya). Bottomline: It can't be as summarily rejected as Ethan's petition, but this ‘Guzaarish' can't be entertained either!

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