Guzaarish is the story of a quadriplegic who has fought for 14 long years, has been a source of inspiration for all with his book “Learning to Fly”, runs a Radio channel called Radio Zindagi from his 16 x 20 room. It is his quest to die with dignity in the same way that he has fought and lived with dignity. It is the story of a magician whose magic cannot cure him, whose charms bewitch everyone around him, and whose life after being paralyzed is nothing short of magic itself. Guzaarish is Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB)’s most understated work till date, devoid of any melodrama (well, almost), without any clap-trap emotional cliches, and probably his most heartfelt film. Guzaarish works, and it makes you feel the pain of a quadriplegic without actually highlighting or exploiting his disability.
Guzaarish works primarily because of 3 reasons. Humour, Performances & Positivity. Although the basic premise is of negativity (of killing oneself), the positivity is that even to kill himself, the protagonist chooses the right path of Mercy-killing with court approval. He does not take the easy way out (simply dying and letting someone else’s life be destroyed), he fights for his death in a positive and compelling manner. Disability is possibly the biggest curse in life, yet SLB treats it with respect and does not try to emotionally manipulate the viewers by obvious sympathetic situations. The protagonist has attitude, wit, humour, and above all, acceptance of his condition. Of course, he has realized after 14 years of fight that slowly his body is deteriorating and before it completely gets damaged, he wants to exit with flying colors. Hrithik’s character really inspires. He cracks jokes on himself, he exudes warmth and love, he laughs when sad, and he cries when alone. His character is a magician throughout the movie. Before disability, he performs magic with his body; after disability, hes magical with his words and attitude. You can feel his zest for life, and his quest for death at the same time. He wants to die not because he’s given up on himself, but because his body cant support his undying spirit. His liver and kidneys are almost damaged, and he will soon need a respirator as well. He does not want that situation to arise, hence the need to die.
Hrithik lives and breathes Ethan. I cant imagine any other actor playing this role. He expresses a lot through his eyes, his smile, and his voice modulations. His character rubs off on the viewer. He flirts, he jokes, he loves, he cares, he teaches, he sacrifices, but above all, he inspires. He sings very well too. His chemistry with Aish is electrifying. Every scene between them is awesome. Aish complements Hrithik beautifully. Her character has sacrificed everything for Hrithik and been with him for 12 years. She loves him, nurses him, expresses his anger, fights with him, and supports him even though she does not want him to die. The only thing I did not like about her was the dark red lipstick shade. Seriously, it distracts. SLB has always made her perform well, this time she surpasses SLB’s previous films with her. Aditya Roy Kapoor is effervescent, charming, and performs well. The rest of the cast too play their parts well. Hrithik’s lawyer played by Shernaz Patel stands out. Nafisa Ali as his mother really touches your heart in the few scenes she’s in.
Technically, I am happy to say that Blue is not omnipresent this time. It is there, but not so much that it overshadows everything else. Music by SLB is soulful and gels well with the film. Songs are well woven with the narrative, and complement the movie wonderfully. Special mention for the song Udi by Sunidhi Chauhan. Aish & Hrithik are wonderful in this song. Hrithik’s own song is also melodious and he sings with all his heart. Camerawork is as usual great, although the movie is mostly shot indoor. The magic scenes are very well captured.
To sum it up, Guzaarish is SLB’s redemption after the overtly melodramatic Black and blue-blob Saawariya. He redeems himself with subtlety, humour, positivity and class. There are several scenes which remain etched in your memory. But above all, it is the triumph of Ethan the character, and Hrithik the actor, that elevates this movie. Of course, there are flaws, and it is by no means a classic, but an extremely honest and sincere attempt. Some might not accept and identify with the basic premise of the movie, but even then, it cant be denied that it not only treats quadriplegics with dignity, but also inspires normal human beings. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, it is still positive. Guzaarish implores you to always be positive and make the best of what God has bestowed you with, and thats where it succeeds.