It might come as a surprise to you if I tell you that Bhansali’s most under appreciated drama till date is de facto by far his best work of art. The most ironical thing about Guzaarish is that even though it is about the protagonist of the drama filing a petition for killing himself, despite of that the film inspires you to live with joy and love in your heart. The film starts with a day in life of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), who is quadriplegic living in Goa, along with a female rendition of Nat King Cole’s Smile playing in the background. That first scene when Hrithik tries to fly off a fly off his nose and then smiles when he is not able to do so itself gives you the taste of dramatization of the entire movie henceforth.
More than a film, it’s a collection of rough patches in a life of a quadriplegic person and how valiantly he gets thorough it. Every time there is an event that can make him despondent, he fights it back by behaving exactly opposite of how a normal person behaves. He falls off the bed and gets up talking about Sofia’s (played by Aishwarya Rai) sexy legs, jokes about sharing a luncheon with the judge after he adjourns the court hearing, and laughs about ‘Chinese Water Torture’ that he goes through during an entire sleepless night with water dripping on his forehead.
The ungrudging and good-spirited character of Ethan at times seems to be an outcome of some Utopian fantasy, as it is very difficult to have a sate of mind as jocular as he does, after all he has gone through from being a best showman magician in the world, later on to be bound to a single room and a chair his entire life. Initially, in the movie it seems that his self-giving and generous attitude towards everything might be an outcome of the accident and he tries to fight his life with that positive attitude of his, but as seen, it can be said that that kind of attitude that the character has is quite seldom seen even in a person who is normal up to toe. So, to see such a joyful attitude towards life from such a person at time seems impractical and more of an outcome of cinema trying to project a happy-go lively protagonist who lifts every one up despite of how devastating his own life gets, like Bollywood has done previously in movies like Anand, or Kal Ho Naa Ho. Bhansali even tries to justify this character of Hrithik as his inborn trait with the scene when he tells Omar Siddiqui ( played by Aditya Roy Kapoor) his first magic trick about bringing smile on his mother’s face when she is crestfallen after she is pelted with things on stage by the audience.
The important thing to be talked about is the question that does the decision of Ethan to file a petition for Euthanasia account for his own hypocrisy or not. To it I would say that it would have, since he was the one who inspired many of his likes to live a life of content and show them a silver lining that there’s so much they are still capable of doing, and then he himself files a petition for mercy killing. So has he grown weak or his life is a hypocrisy in itself? I would say none. Ethan lived a life of dignity for fourteen years after his accident and in that period he did the best he could with the life he had in himself. He inspired people to live, laugh, and love. He wrote a book. He has his own radio show. So, he did what he could with what he had. He was caged in his own body for fourteen years and in all those years, he dedicated his life towards giving other people a hope for survival. His desire of mercy killing was not an outcome of his fragility or hypocrisy, but a desire for ending the pain he had suffered all these years when he showed none. He made the best out of his life, and he lived every moment of it with dignity and then he desired to end it. He didn’t take the decision in distress out of his dismay for life. He cherished every moment of it, till the very end. He had earned his right to end his own life to end his sufferings because he had made the best of it despite of everything.
Another scene that was fantastically executed was the funeral of Ethan’s mother which shows the bittersweet side of life. Rather than being another sad part of the story, it becomes a happy-sad one when Ethan starts singing Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, which is the same song which his mother sings in the restaurant on the day he performs his first magic trick.
The most appreciable aspect of the movie is its screenplay. The way Bhansali shifts between the earlier charismatic life of Ethan when he had fame and money and his present devastated state is so apt that it makes the audience realize the gravity of his suffering even more. In addition, the magic sequences’ choreography was done beautifully along with the background score. Another thing to be taken into consideration is the astounding exhibition of the Goan culture on screen. In addition to that, the movie’s soundtrack was captivating with an equal hint of melancholy and cherish. I loved the tracks ‘Tear Zikr‘, ‘Saiba‘, ‘Sau Gram Zindagi‘, and ‘Jaane Kiske Khwaab‘.
When it comes to Hrithik’s art, this movie shows his potential and genius as an actor. He could use only his face in the entire movie, yet his performance doesn’t fall short an inch. You put Hrithik on wheelchair and he will show you his agility and elegance in even a minute’s scene he gets the opportunity to do so. This movie showcases that Hrithik is a lot more than his Adonis looks and body. Aishwarya was as usual graceful and beautiful and as always great in her act. Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shernaz Patel were good enough to justify the roles they were given.
Overall, Guzaarish is an elegant masterpiece of art with very few microscopic taints here and there which could be easily over looked because it is as beautiful as cinema can get.
PS: I know Guzaarish is not an Indie Movie, but there are exceptions that should be considered. Also, its box office collection was comparable to an independent cinema so I guess this can be considered.