Movie Review: GUZAARISH (2010)
A few years ago, there was a Bollywood movie that showcased a very sensitive social issue, without pompous fanfare, but through the quietness of one life, wanting it to end. The issue here is that of Euthanasia, also known as Mercy Killing or assisted Suicide, and is considered illegal in most countries of the world. Not many films have covered such a subject, much less Bollywood films, but Writer / Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali provides a poignant look at this issue, without preaching, educating or even conveying a message about it. The story is just that of the reasoning of one man wanting to choose such an option and why.
Blank Page Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Votes
GUZAARISH is one of Bhansali’s more simpler films, in terms of scope and scale. The film is elegant and meaningful, without being grandiose. The story follows one man’s wish to end his life, and his petition to the Government to allow him to do so. However, the movie is not that of a courtroom drama or one man’s crusade to change laws, but it is simply about a desire (guzaarish) to have control of his own life, and Bhansali tells the story beautifully.
Hrithik Roshan plays Ethan; a former magician who is relegated to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after a magic trick goes wrong. Despite this, Ethan creates a meaningful life for himself, with the help of family and friends, most notably his private nurse and confidant of 12 years, Sofia, played to perfection by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Ethan decides to end his life, not due to any depression or frustration, but simply because he’s lived in dignity now, and wants the choice to end his life in the same manner, before his health deteriorates and he inevitably passes on anyways. The film looks at Ethan’s relationships with his friends, his past, his most beloved caretaker Sofia, and a chance to leave his magic legacy to a newcomer eager to learn, played by Aditya Roy Kapur.
GUZAARISH is a small movie, held together completely through Roshan’s charm, despite playing a role that would otherwise be cloaked in sadness and tears. This is further exhibited through his interaction and chemistry with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, playing a woman who has given a man 12 years of her life trying to keep him alive, being furious at the fact that he cares so little about it himself. Their relationship is unconventional, tragic and portrayed in a manner never before seen by Bollywood. It’s a sweet dynamic and the two actors play off of each other wonderfully. Quite possible the best role by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Despite being a movie that deals with such a morbid topic, GUZAARISH never indulges itself with long monologues or scenes that purposely tug at the heartstrings, but rather breeze by the happy and sad alike, while still maintaining the consistency of each character’s motivations. The most awkwardly uncomfortable scenes of Ethan mocking his own condition instantly turn into a laugh riot as his attitude goes from self-deprecating to a genuinely sweet moment of self-acceptance. The story is further supported by Shernaz Patel as Ethan’s best friend and lawyer fighting for his behalf and Suhel Seth as the doctor who stands by him, despite disagreeing professionally. GUZAARISH happens to be one of those movies where what isn’t shown, or said… has bigger impact than what makes it on to the screen.
Now the movie isn’t without flaws, such as the origins behind his accident, the aftermath of which is never clearly explained, however, this can be filed away with the reasoning of “it’s not important” to the over all story that is being told. The film works as whole as it doesn’t exploit the sad and tearful situations that it presents, but rather gives an emotional look of one man’s choice, through his hopeful and naive eyes. The portrayal of the issue is never skewed or stereotypical, as exhibited by a Priest, politely explaining to Ethan that his choice is a Sin in the eyes of a Catholic God, while still maintaining their friendship and respect of each other. GUZAARISH is an emotional drama that doesn’t play to it’s strengths of hysterics or tear-jerking moments, but involves a story about a fragile issue, display with a wreckless abandon through it’s main character, while somehow still maintaining a hopeful and optimistic vibe about it all.
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