Guzaarish

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali 
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shernaz Patel
Released: 2010
My Rating: 7/10

*SPOILERS*

I have to admit it: I am a die-hard Sanjay Leela Bhansali-fan. I love all his movies, even the much criticized Saawariya, because he is a real artist and conveys emotions like no other in his works. I discovered Bollywood with his Devdas and I can assure you that you would need hundreds of lifetimes to find someone who loves this movie as much as I do. So yes, I am an ardent admirer of him and that was only natural that Guzaarish was my most-awaited film of the year 2010. I was really excited about it, all the more so as the topic it was to deal with was very sensitive and not easy to talk about. But I was confident. So did Guzaarish meet my expectations?

Well, let's talk about the story first, it is set in Goa where lives one of the most acclaimed magician, Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), an acclaimed but a crippled magician. He became a quadriplegic when several years ago, a dangerous magic trick turned wrong. He now tries to give hope to people through his FM station, 'Radio Zindagi', his joy and laughter make it difficult to imagine that this is a man who spent the last several years of his life in a wheelchair. Ethan finds much help and comfort in Sofia D'Souza (Aishwarya Rai), her faithful nurse, and shares with her an affectionate, trustful and deep bond.

However, someday and out of a sudden, Ethan summons his dear friend and lawyer Devyani (Shernaz Patel); the man who used to give hope and joy to others despite his own hardships, has decided to fill a case to the court for euthanasia, for "mercy killing". It is a shock for the people around him, especially to Sofia who feels that this is a hard blow to their relationship. Devyani first hesitates but eventually understands her friend and decides to defend him. Among that confusion appears Omar Siddiqui (Aditya Roy Kapoor) who considers Ethan to be the greatest magician ever. His only goal is to learn magic from him; impressed by his passion and enthusiasm for magic, Ethan accepts to pass on his legacy to him while he has to defend his right "to die"...
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Freedom...
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...has now turned into sad situation.
 Let's first speak about what hits your eyeballs first: the visuals. The sets are fabulous, they are a treat, and they scream beauty and elegance throughout. I feel they help to the symbolical side of the story, it is beautiful and elegant and yet it is empty, just like how Ethan's life is. He lives in a big and beautiful house in which he cannot even move anymore. That is the grandness of the sets that can take the breath away of someone, but somehow one can also feel "emprisoned" just like Ethan. But that was not a bad thing for the story.

Wow... just wow...
Well, how does the story go? The first half went by like a dream. Everything was filmed beautifully. One falls immediately into the story. I smiled with Ethan, I laughed in the scenes between Sofia and Omar. I cried with the characters. I felt Ethan's immobility and emprisonment in this big mansion, this big place in which he cannot move. And as the movie flies, it deepens your thinking - especially through the court scenes. The big question that raises is this: do we have the right to decide over the life which belongs to somebody's else, even when this person wants to die? Bhansali does not give us an answer, he does not really say that there is a good or bad way. In the end, it is Ethan's own desire and will, and that is what matters the most.

All the emotions present work until the second half comes, and there the story simply stagnates. Usually everything is in their own and right deserved place in a SLB's movies, and that is not the case with Guzaarish. There appears very disturbing plotholes. First, how was Ethan before his accident? You will get one or two songs where he is dancing and performing magic... No more than that. Oh yes, and one scene where he performs, dances and kisses an ex-girlfriend, who was her assistant before his accident, the latter that will tell him through the phone that yes, indeed, she agreed he should die. At that scene, she is married and has a new life. Why did she leave him? Because of his accident? Nobody knows and will ever know. Then suddenly we also learn that Ethan's accident that made him crippled for life was the result of the betrayal from his former best friend, Yaseer Siddiqui. Why did he really do that? Jealousy? Once again... who knows? Then suddenly it is revealed (without any surprise when one sees the name) that Omar is the son of that very former friend. Ethan accepts it and says nothing. What was the use of revealing that? I do not know. What does it add to the story? I do not know either. One feels emptiness watching this movie, as if it was done with a shallow way. Unfortunately Bhansali did not give the topic and the movie the deepness that it deserved. Something was terribly missing. 
Believe in magic...

So unfortunately, in terms of story, Guzaarish did not meet my expectations but I found the positive in the soundtrack and the performances. I used not to think much of the soundtrack when I heard the promos, but in the movie, they were in their perfect place. My heart goes to Udi, it was my favourite moment of the movie and showed even more deepness to the character of Sofia. (character that I just loved) To me, it is the most beautiful song of 2010, and probably the most beautiful cinematic moment of last year.
                     

But what gives strong points to Guzaarish are the actors and their performances. Hrithik was amazing, people who say that it was the best of his career are not wrong. His face is so expressive, his eyes deep and one can feel his inner sadness so strongly. He portrayed the joyful and depressed shades of Ethan perfectly. Aditya Roy Kapoor gives the movie its light, most of the light moments were his. There was a frankness in his performance that I totally loved. But the special mention has to go to Aishwarya. That was her career best. She as Sofia was the soul of the movie. She was amazing and mindblowing, there were no flaws in her portrayal. There would be no Guzaarish without Sofia in my opinion. Sofia is a magical dream, she rises like a phoenix out of her ashes, blooms like a rose and is as mysterious as the smile of Mona Lisa. She seems to be another definition for the word woman. She is strong, level-headed, frank and a devoted friend. 

The love-story between Ethan and Sofia was beautifully directed and portrayed. You do not see it, you feel it. Their love was so beautiful and spirited, it was quiet but so strong thanks their feelings.

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Aren't they cute? 
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That scene was... hilariously awkward
Ok, now this is sad... very sad... :(

Do you love Sanjay Leela Bhansali's works? Then, watch Guzaarish but I would advice you to lower your expectations. That was my mistake, mine were too high and perhaps I do not like it as much as it deserves. But unfortunately, it cannot gain points from me when there are plotholes and that something is definitely missing. I felt the emotions but I was sometimes disconnected from the story. However, it is worth your time if you want to see a great performance from Hrithik and an Aishwarya at her absolute best. You will see beautiful scenes, but do not expect a perfectly executed movie. No matter how much a movie is technically perfect, if it has no soul, one cannot love it.

Credit goes to Lime(tte) for the screencaps (I hope you do not mind. I can still remove them from my blog if you wish Lime). Do check her "visual review" of Guzaarish here
 
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