This review contains Spoilers.
I got some down time, finally, to watch Guzarish, the film that I'd been wanting to watch all these days. Sanjay Bhansali intrigues me as a director. I saw his debut "khamoshi" and noticed him for his keen observation skills and sensitivity to the handicaps that exist around him. It was a failed but laudable attempt by a new kid on the block, brave enough to questions the 'song, dance, fight, cry and happy ending" sequence of commercial Bollywoood cinema. If my friends' observation of my taste being 'weird' is true, I seem to like cinema that addresses more than entertainment. I do enjoy the mindless dramas or romances that Indian cinema churns out, but I love directors who look beyond what meets the eye and make attempts to put forward a message. Who ever said that cinema is meant only to entertain and not to preach or teach or invoke thought, is, according to my humble and honest opinion - wrong! I see the influence of cinema all around me. People imitate the style, the dialogue and even the mannerisms of the characters that are created and depicted on the silver screen and we all do, consciously or otherwise, get influenced by the medium, which collectively, can effect the face of the society we live in- so to present a deep, thought provoking subject is a very laudable attempt in an industry where most movies are made with an intent to succeed at the box office.
Guzarish, or a plea - touches the sensitive subject of "mercy killing" or Euthenesia as it is popularly known. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering*
To come back to the plot, a slightly plump Hrithik Roshan, who plays a quadriplegic (Ethan Mascarenas) tied down to his bed, but not tied down by his spirit, counsels the hale and healthy brethren that calls him for advice and teaches them a thing or two about love, life and living, through the medium of a radio show. Aishwarya Rai plays his extremely diligent nurse (Sophie D'Souza) of twelve years, who'd not taken even a day off from her work during this period. Enters Shernaz Patel with her theater-trained performance, as the buddy and lawyer( named Devyaani Duttaa) of Ethan Mascranecas , and it is then and there that she takes away form the dumb looking Aishwarya with her out of place costumes and expressions. Aishwarya, I'd opined earlier, and I do again, is a woman India should be proud of - but not by any stretch of imagination is she an actor that is watchable. In the scene in which she confronts her husband that conveniently appears at the fag end of the movie, to make the 'marriage' of the leading characters possible, Ash displayed acting skills of an armature - and pulled the movie down with all her might and main. I am not critiquing her costumes or the scripting of her character - to me, Aishwarya is not born to act - and she seemed to not have learned form all the experience of being mentored by directors like Bhansali and Ratnam. She falls as flat as ever!
Back to the plot, the movie, for dealing with a sensitive and controversial subject like Euthanasia, didn't evoke the thought or emotions that I anticipated. This is coming form a movie goer that could cry at the slightest provocation, and I am surprised that no scene in the movie spoke to me in terms of sensitivity. The student's character played by Aditya roy Kapoor is worth a mention for his very natural acting skills but again, the character is not molded to its true capacity.
Bhansali is known for his grandeur both in terms of sensitivity and sensibility, but his movie is more like a first draft that would have had a great potential if it was worked on the way Bhansali is known to work on. Hrithik shows the shades of the actor in him which is a pleasant and powerful change form the star we usually get to see. The rest is mediocrity at its best. The soul of the film is flawed and so are the characters and the execution. The sub plots that walk in and out at their will are loose ends that leave the audience with a lot of questions about the love and rivalry aspects of the protagonist's life.
There are a lot of layers to the person that is Ethan Mascrenas and those layers are meant to be manifested in the numerous relationships the film portrays - but none of them kindle the underlying warmth or passion the director envisioned. There are a few scenes that attempt to steal the show - like the one in which Ethan refuses a hug saying he has enough attachments and the one in which he opines to have undergone 'Chinese torture.' All these moments lack the depth the intensity of the subject demands.
I shall remember Guzarish as a brave and expensive attempt with unnecessary ostentation that distracts the viewer from its soul. It is like the beautiful statue of a woman - breathtakingly beautiful, but lifeless and lacking personality. All it displays is the sculptor's skill and attention for detail. All else fades in the glory of the visual.
*courtesy - Wikipedia.