Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

November 19, 2010

Not worth dying for!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:01 pm

November 19, 2010

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapur, Shernaz Patel, Suhel Seth

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s recent films have famously existed in a world of his own creation, a world cut off from the one we inhabit, a world where logic is often a hindrance. Guzaarish, his latest offering, may be less esoteric than his last film, Saawariya, but it’s still an unsatisfying effort because the filmmaker continues to invest more in the appearance of every frame than in the emotional truth of his characters.

Apparently set in current day Goa (although this is a very different Goa from the one we saw in Bhansali’s earliest and most sincere film, Khamoshi), much of this plot unfolds in the sprawling Mehboob Studios bungalow-set that stands in as the home of our protagonist. Ethan Mascarenhas (played by Hrithik Roshan) is a renowned magician who has been living as a quadriplegic for the last 14 years, after he suffered a terrible accident at the peak of his career. Between dishing out upbeat life lessons on a radio show he hosts, and cracking naughty jokes to his feisty nurse Sophiya (played by Aishwarya Rai), Ethan decides he wants to end his life.

His lawyer friend Devyani (played by the excellent Shernaz Patel) is instructed to file a plea for euthanasia. Meanwhile Ethan also takes in a young apprentice (played by Aditya Roy Kapoor), who is desperate to learn magic from him.

Its various subplots inspired from different films, Guzaarish is a mash-up of many interesting ideas. From Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, Bhansali borrows the sabotage angle between rival magicians, but that culminates in an over-simplistic redemption that adds nothing of any value to the core plot of this film. From The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Bhansali steals memorable moments like the one in which the wheelchair-bound hero struggles with a stubborn fly, until he resigns himself to live with it. But it’s the Oscar-winning Spanish film The Sea Inside that the director plunders most liberally from, taking full scenes and the dynamics between key characters too.

While you may be willing to overlook the plagiarism (although you shouldn’t!), it’s hard to forgive the sloppy writing. Euthanasia is a delicate and controversial issue, but the film never quite comes to grips with its theme of mercy killing. More than one character talks about an individual’s right to pull the plug, but those scenes fail to punch you in the gut because the dialogues are so predictable and superficial.

Guzaarish is beautifully shot and has a larger-than-life operatic feel to it. But it’s also shamelessly manipulative. It’s hard to care for Bhansali’s characters because the emotions never feel real. Hrithik Roshan’s silences are deeper than the corny dialogues he’s saddled with, but for the most part he appears awkward offering a theatrical pitch to match the film’s OTT sensibilities. A terrific, subtle actor, Hrithik looks uncomfortable in this melodramatic space.

Aishwarya Rai’s performance meanwhile, is completely in sync with the film’s heightened sense of drama; the actress evidently benefitting from her previous experiences of working with the director.

For a Bhansali film, Guzaarish has a surprisingly uninspired soundtrack (composed by the director himself, incidentally), and the screenplay has enough holes in it for it to work as a fishing net. But to be fair, there are some lovely moments that jump out and surprise you. Like that crackling scene in which Ethan pretends to be aroused when Sophiya’s massaging his feet, to which she responds by offering some suggestive moans herself. Or that lump-in-the-throat portion in which Ethan wrestles with the rain dripping in through a hole in the roof.

Unfortunately moments like these are few and far between in what is ultimately a slow, silly film. I’m going with two out of five for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish. The magic is missing in this one!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Movie was a Piece of Shit, Way to go… Masand, You spoke the truth behind, else every other critic is like payed to promote an extremely plagiarised movie…..

    Comment by Shadab — December 1, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  2. Its a superb movie..!!

    Comment by Yash — December 4, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  3. I think you have crossed the line between critique nd judgement. the movie in my opinion is fabulous..im not sayin thats howu shud also see it but i strongly disagree with ur usage of words in its discription. I think ur losing the ability that ur known for!
    very poor reviewing!
    sorry rajeev..but more intelligence and sensitivity was expected of u!

    Comment by Shreya — December 5, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  4. hey, its realyu a nic movie !!!!!!! Hrithik is just superb !!!!!!!

    Comment by shweta — December 6, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  5. it’s the best film of the 2010 & best bhansali’s effort so far.
    hey rajeev, i think u are going biased wid it as same as u did wid black

    Comment by gaurav — December 13, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  6. Terming GUZZARISH as a silly film is not just silly but the worst criticism ever.
    It’s a shame that people like u call urself critics.
    The sensitibility and beauty of the movie are beyond judgement but since u earn ur bread and butter from mere criticizing works of brilliant minds , u could have atleast talked about the “hope” and “love for life” that are the ultimate messages of the movie.

    Comment by NIKHIL NAGAR — December 22, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  7. And no it’s not worth dying for…

    Comment by NIKHIL NAGAR — December 22, 2010 @ 12:30 am

  8. Iam very sad dat people like u talking dat Guzaarish is not emtionally treated………
    den wat kind of movies meet such expectations……..
    Guzaarish was one of the best movies dat i had seen in 2010……..
    sorry Rajeev your comment is very dissapointing.

    Comment by syamkumar.m — January 6, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  9. just now watched movie in escape cinemas ,chennai. OMG ! what an effort by SLB. he is the best director. he has made this movie like an hollywood flick…. (screenply, tone of the cinematography,direction) its really an brilliant movie in bollywood. acting of hrithik was mind blowing, he is the example of a perfect ACTOR in todays generation his selection of the movie is good am also saying about his ‘kites’ which is a flop( curiously some attested to Kites containing a lot of English which turned the local Indian audiences off, but this film also featured a fair bit of dialogue in the English language) i dont understand y ppl and critics take this reason. and also aishwaryas stunning performance as ever… its an epic with a heart pounding message ( u will realise this message when u understand the concept of this story).

    Comment by jaris — January 9, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  10. after watching this flick … i was in the thougt that wat masand would rate this flick (4 or 4.5 ?) but after seeing his review ;’ ‘Not worth dying for! ‘ i feel sorry for his talent which i considered the best reviewer (he was the reason that i watched this flick so late). now am so upset abt his review that he did not see the movie properly ( how could he?? he would have been searching for the LOOP HOLES at the time of watching) wat say?? read his last para on the review column. finally, from this movie only thing i concluded that MASAND IS NOT FIT FOR REVIEWING … HE S NOT CAPABLE!!

    Comment by jaris — January 9, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  11. dude i generally tend to agree with you but you got it wrong this time… i will go for 4-4.5 stars out of 5….
    gr8 acting by hrithik….

    Comment by kushal — January 22, 2011 @ 2:20 am

  12. Completely agree with Rajeev.. Guzaarish is a plagiarized mash up.. from scene one I got reminded of “The Prestige” and “The Sea Inside”.. Rampant plagiarism.. production quality, over hyped actors and glorified cinematic treatment doesn’t make a good movie.. Rajeev you are spot on!!

    Comment by Supratim — January 28, 2011 @ 1:21 am

  13. The film is aesthetically shot and is a visual treat along with some superb performance catered by the lead actors. I admire your style of critically evaluating every aspect of the movie.However, this time I don’t quite agree with the 2 stars. The reason being the overall effort contributed by the team as a whole and also Mr.Bhansali who has put in an xtra bit of thought after saawariya.

    Comment by vikas — February 6, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  14. Hello Rajeev Masand,

    Please dont mind what others have commented in here. I have been checking your reviews for both hindi and english films and you have been pretty good so far. A few names like NIkhat Kazmi, Tarun Adarsh just blindly give ratings on basis of the budget and cast of the movie. Good ratings for typical SRK-Karan Johar combination and bad ratings for films like peepli live.
    Please do not derail yourselves from your current approach of rating movies, despite of all the negative feedbacks that you recieve. I believe that among the Indian film critics, you are one of the best and unbiased. Keep going. Thanks a billion.


    @others: This PS is for the ones who think that this movie is super-awesome then why does not this make into prestigious internation film festivals like Cannes or BerlinFF. And I am not even talking about the Oscars. If you guys follow Filmfare awards then I have no comments. Thanks.

    Comment by Mridul — February 21, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

  15. Such a great movie!! Such a sensitively made movie! Hritik has acted with all his sinceriety and this is one of the movies where Aishwarya has not overacted..Kudos to Sanjay and his team!

    Comment by kitty — March 14, 2011 @ 4:25 am

  16. hi mr.masand !!!!!

    I was 1 of ur fan who eagerly awaits for ur review…. but after reading this i feel really ashamed !!!!
    dont know why people like u giving a review like this!!!! you gave 3* for dhoom2, 3* for kites, 3* for robot and just 2 for
    guzaarish!!!!! man are u crazy ? i just wanted to blast at you but i dont want to do it here!!!!! get lost !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by arun — March 18, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  17. i m student of psychology so we screen this movie in college in psychology department , and we conduct debt on euthanasia we got positive response from every one …. 🙂

    Comment by khush — August 8, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  18. Not worth of your criticism its of the great movies of Bollywood you are wrong…

    Comment by kush — July 29, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

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