14 January 2012

GUZAARISH / REQUEST (Dir. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2010, India)

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes extravagant romantic melodramas that take place in an alternate heightened reality. With Guzaarish, mainstream Hindi cinema takes on the much debated issue of euthanasia but unfortunately Bhansali's efforts come undone by an unconvincing story, hyperbolic performances from the main leads and an overworked production design. Bhansali's fondness for romance recalls the tragic melodramas of old Indian cinema and although his visual mastery of the frame is impressive, his films including this one always disappoint largely because the script, pacing and performances are at odds with the central idea or concept. Bhansali is a commercially oriented mainstream film maker and his films regularly sweep the major award ceremonies in the Indian film calendar. He is a much adored figure in the industry and most of the major stars have or are desperate to work with him. It's odd because Bhansali's oeuvre to date is somewhat underwhelming yet he has managed to cultivate a false image of himself as an auteur. What Guzaarish proves is how emotionally empty his films really are - the romance enacted by the characters does so on a rich canvas but it is a stylisation which reeks of self indulgence. If only he could rein in such self indulgence and spend more time with the scriptwriting process then maybe, just maybe, he might one day deliver a quality film. As for Hrithik Roshan, what can I say, he is apparently a star and an actor, but in reality, he is neither. In fact, he is nothing more than a mannequin who has sadly spawned an industry of similarly unresponsive mannequins.

4 comments:

  1. Omar, I haven't seen GUZARISH, but was wondering if AGNEEPATH is getting a UK release.

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  2. I'm not convinced by Roshan and many of his contemporaries and as for Agneepath, yes, it will be released here in the UK. What do you think? Are you fan of the original? This current remake looks like a rip off Apocalypse Now and I do remember the Amitabh Agneepath turning into a rip off Scarface in places.

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  3. You're definitey right about how this movie tended to stylize more than inspire w/ emotion. I remember watching this film and leaving the theater feeling more impressed by the set design, cinematography, and star power (& their very good looks), rather than feeling motivated to reflect on the issue of euthanasia.

    After reading your post, I realize that Indian movies in general are very stylized- for the reason that audiences cannot bare watching a 2 1/2 hour-long movie without some added glamor or music. I truly hope successful movies will come along due to its multi-dimensional plot, well-written dialogue, and the actors' ability to emote/inspire. In addition, I hope Indian movies will be based on a truly "Indian" story. Guuzarish certainly copied some of the tropes and techniques one can find in Hollywood cinema. When that day comes, Bollywood, will not be Bollywood, as an imitation of Hollywood, but an independent industry, as all other industries are in other countries.

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  4. No, Omar. I can't say I'm a fan, but I was deeply, deeply interested by it, like I would be in some strange syndrome. It's totally crazy and so un-self-conscious about it. I'm actually looking forward to the remake.

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