Savour some magic cinematically. And quite first rate at that. Sanjay Leela Bhansali may have been inspired by 'The Sea Inside', a 2004 movie starring Javier Bardem, but that takes away nothing from his 'Guzaarish'. It is an exquisite piece of cinema, the images of which linger in one's mind long after the movie is over. The Bhansali touch is all over the movie and one senses a timeless and ageless quality about the movie, set as it is in a dilapidated Victorian manor somewhere in Goa. But that is just a part of the ambience.
The blazing fire in Hrithik Roshan's eyes as the quadriplegic protagonist, Ethan Mascarenhas is another strong, lingering image from the movie. In all, with this movie, Bhansali seems to have set to rest the ghosts of a failed 'Saawariya'. He can rightfully bask in the glory of this 'Guzaarish'.
'Guzaarish' is the story of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik), a magician, who has been reduced to living the life of a quadriplegic due to a freak accident 14 years ago. Chained to his lonely manor, he nevertheless continues to live out a life full of hope, courage and a sense of humour, all thanks to his nurse cum caretaker cum friend, Sofia D'Souza (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), his best friend and lawyer Devyani Dutta (Shernaz Patel), and his doctor, Nitin Naik (Suhel Seth).
He has his own radio station, from where he continues to dole out hope to millions. But after 14 years of suffering, he cannot take it anymore and decides to file a plea for mercy killing or euthanasia. He manages to persuade Devyani to file the petition for him, but Sofia is not able to accept the fact that one day, her beloved patient would no longer be around.
He is as much her source of emotional sustenance, as she is his. Despite opposition from all sides, Ethan is set on the idea of ending it all. Into this little world of Ethan, Sophia, Naik and Devyani, comes Omar Siddique, a young wannabe magician, who wants to learn Ethan's magical tricks.
Despite the fact that the film talks of euthanasis, at no point in the narrative does it ever become morbid. On the contrary, the film seems to make a plea about loving and living. Even Ethan, who is paralysed and cannot even move a finger, is constantly giving hope to others. The final scene, when he finally decides to take the plunge with the help of Sofia, has a celebratory mood, tinged with just that right amount of sadness, as one would feel at the departure of a friend.
That Hrithik is a powerhouse of talent is a known and accepted fact. But the actor seems to transcend all boundaries as he gets into the skin of Ethan's character of a quadriplegic, looks and acts the part to perfection. As the angst ridden Ethan, he has the task of conveying everything with his eyes and he does it marvellously, as every emotion, be it helplessness, despair, joy, anger or love is portrayed vividly by him. It is certainly to date one of Hrithik's toughest roles and one can hardly imagine any other actor carrying it off with so much flair and seeming ease. 'Guzaarish would certainly count as being among his best performance to date.
He is brilliantly supported by Ash, who has a pretty challenging role on her hands as well. Theirs, Ethan and Sofia's love story, is hardly conventional and it would certainly not have been an easy role to essay. But Ash carries it off with aplomb, balancing the strength and vulnerability of Sofia's character brilliantly.
The supporting cast of Shernaz Patel, Suhel Seth and Nafisa Ali (Ethan's mother) are equally creditable. Model Monikangana Dutta makes too brief an appearance to make much of an impression.
The only discordant note is sounded by Aditya Roy Kapoor as Omar. Somehow his character never seems to fit into Ethan's world, or maybe the problem lies with the manner in which the role is portrayed. In either case, this is a disappointing outing for Aditya, who had made quite an impression with his last release, 'Action Replayy'.
The film has been shot exquisitely there is really no other word to describe cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee's work in this movie. 'Guzaarish' sees a flawless blending of technique with content. Its languorous pace denoting how time has stopped still in the mansion, for Ethan. The dialogues by Vibhu Puri and Bhavani Iyer are natural and economical, yet managing to convey a world of thoughts and ideas.
The film's music by Bhansali is perfectly married into the form and content of the movie too. Except probably for 'udi', none of the others are truly full blown songs, but more like ruminations and reminences by the character, especially Kunal Ganjawala's 'sau gram zindagi'. The parts of the film dealing with Ethan in his days as a magician are quite thrilling to watch.
In all, 'Guzaarish' remains with you a magical experience created by Bhansali. Hats off to him!