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Slow death

sudhish kamath
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hrithik scores, once again Guzaarish
hrithik scores, once again Guzaarish

H rithik Roshan gives one of the best performances of his career as a man trapped in a wheelchair/bad film, desperately craving for freedom. There you go, the one good thing about the film — Hrithik, despite his Greek-god like physique, totally convinces you that he's a helpless talking vegetable and his eyes speak volumes about his pain, suffering and feeling of powerlessness.

Everything else about Guzaarish is plain annoying. What can you say about a film that's pretending that it does not want your sympathy but vulgarly constructs scene after scene as an exercise to extract exactly that.

Pretentious, of course. With its single-minded agenda to make you feel the helplessness and impotency of its lead character, Ethan Mascarenhas, Guzaarish never becomes anything more than “Look, this poor man who can't do anything without a nurse or a helper should be allowed to die because he does not wish to live like that.” As simple as that argument may be, it becomes a larger responsibility for the filmmaker to explore the emotional depth of that request in the context of what his family and support system feels. Or at least make the situation and condition seem at least remotely credible.

We are talking about a glossy, surreal, picture-perfect set put together by four production designers, not one of them capable or smart enough to figure out that such a character who has been living out of a wheelchair for 14 years would probably need a disability ramp in the house, especially if the character prefers to stay under a leaky roof on the first floor.

Before you try to milk the audience for sympathy and manipulate a serious issue like disability for tears and melodrama, how about understanding the special needs of such a character to live with dignity?

We are talking about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in bright red lipstick and flawless make-up, contractually obligated to wear a plunging blouse all through the film, even if her character is supposed to change diapers for a grown man. And there's a fan who has come to learn magic from a bed-ridden man who has conveniently written all about his magic tricks in great detail in his book, completely negating any need for further personal mentoring.

The screenplay is a lazily fashioned debate that uses a radio show format where people calling in (most of them are friends who could've done this even without the radio) vote on whether or not he should be allowed to die — a trial by radio debate after the court dismisses his first petition. To keep the film moving, the court considers his petition again and the judge comes all the way to his dilapidated building for a hearing and even lets the quadriplegic former-magician perform a potentially death-causing trick on the public prosecutor by suffocating him in a box, just to illustrate his helplessness.

Hilarious stuff.

What is the reason for a man so tired of life to actually give a hoot about what the court thinks? If the film is about ‘Ethan-asia' (see what they did there? Euthanasia strictly in Ethan's case) and NOT about euthanasia in general, why does it call for a public debate on radio? Again, there's barely anything the character does in the film to suggest he would have a fan base as an RJ... but in a Bhansali film, we aren't supposed to ask these questions.

Most of the lines written for Ethan seem to contain Sanjay Leela Bhansali's post- Saawariya angst and desperation.

Sample these:

“You know Sophia, it's the applause that I miss the most.”

“I don't know how to put this into words.”

“What do you want Mr. Mascarenhas?”

“An Audience.”

sudhish kamath

Guzaarish Genre: Drama Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shernaz Patel Storyline: A quadriplegic who sets an example with his positive thinking decides to file a petition for euthanasia as his health deteriorates and soon it becomes an issue of national debate! Bottomline: Highly pretentious, boring film with leftover craving-for-your-sympathy melodrama from Black and unused sets from Saawariya


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