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Jul 24, 2011


Sanjay Leela Bhansali School of Cinema is where you should enroll in if you are interested in perfecting set and costume design and the visual art of cinema as a whole, with emphasis on 'visual'. Every frame in a Bhansali movie is a consummate painting, to the last detail of a withered plant, out of focus in the right shade of yellowish green tucked away in a hazy corner. Like one of those Dutch masters’ works done in the medium of motion picture, four hundred years later with richer colors and crores at his disposal. If there was a court painter for Bollywood, Sanjay Leela Bhansali will hold that title for life. From Khamoshi and Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam to Guzaarish, his films have taken the meaning of visual extravaganza to new heights.

But personally I’d rather watch his movies with my fingers in full control of the fast forward button. Well, that’s me, spoiled by the fast and the furious flicks. Somewhere along the way my slow movie appreciation gene mutated, succumbing to the pressures of reality real time media. Guzaarish, despite the art appreciation class I tried to view it as, was painfully slow for me.

The magic of the story was bed-ridden along with the magician in the story – Ethan Mascarenas, played by a wide-eyed crazy Hrithik Roshan. Aishwarya Rai as home nurse Sophia, in gorgeous foreign costumes shed by the Portuguese when they first arrived on the shores of Konkan and Malabar half a millennium ago, makes an a-muse-ing distraction. Aditya Roy Kapoor was brought into add some youthful energy – a bold swash of color in a house of impending death and grays. Some Indians, who look European, like Nafisa Ali and Shernaz Patel, in spite of their six yard of saris, also made the cut.

Most of Bhansali’s movies give me the impression of a baby switched at birth. Actually it has to be more specific than a simple switch of similar looking babies, it always look like a gora or gringo baby mistakenly given to a dark-skinned couple. Everything about his movies is so nobly European – the costumes, the characters and their interactions, most of the times the core story itself. This finds Bhansali running back, time and again to the most “European” of India’s states – Goa.

In Bollywood anything goes, if it is dressed in a frock and speaks pidgin, provided it is from Goa. So in Guzaarish we have a paralyzed magician and his coterie of mismatched assistants grappling with the very un-magical concept of mercy killing in a crumbling old mansion located where else, in Goa. You watch the rest, if you’ve time to kill.