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A feast for the eyes, but…

ANUJ KUMAR
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Magic of the unsaid: There are some moments between the quadriplegic magician and his utterly stunning nurse that are absolute magic.
Magic of the unsaid: There are some moments between the quadriplegic magician and his utterly stunning nurse that are absolute magic.

Guzaarish (Hindi)

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

His cinema is something that is to be experienced not watched; but, Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, cinema is not about exquisite canvases hung in an art gallery where we can conjure up our own story.

Here the director puts the frames in a certain context, and we expect the master puppeteer to justify the actions of his performers. If the abstract fails to touch the heart, engage 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 is famished.

It promises to raise the bar of Hindi cinema by giving a voice to quadriplegics: 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, there are some moments between the quadriplegic magician and his utterly stunning nurse that 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.

There are startling flaws, but we ignore it because Bhansali knows how to indulge us in moments denuded of pretences. They are in good supply as Bhansali builds up the magic in enchanting Goa with tunes that hit 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 Sophia breaks into an impromptu jig or takes on the judge in court.

Hrithik is pure delight as the witty and sharp Ethan, painted with Jesuit nobility and meticulously contrasted with sudden bursts of vulnerability. Aishwarya is a picture of grace and vitality who gives in to her emotions once in a while. In fact, the relationship is the reason you give in.

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 issue of euthanasia and the ensuing court battle is handled in a puerile fashion. The teaching exercise remains half-baked. The hurried revelation of Sophia's past does not suit her personality and, in the absence of a proper character graph, Ethan's baffling verbosity reduces Hrithik's earnestness into crankiness.

In fact, his final decision is manipulative and against the very moral fabric he upholds throughout the film. In a sense, Bhansali fails to capitalise on the build-up, leaving one grinning in the farewell sequence instead of having a lump in the throat. ANUJ KUMAR

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