March 5, 2024

Euthanasia: the musical

But everything in Bollywood is musical


It had to happen: a musical about
euthanasia. Of course, nearly every film coming out of Bollywood is a musical,
but director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has tried to make Guzaarish (The Request) a lush melodrama
with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles.

The plot, as in most musicals is not the
most important element. An impossibly handsome Goan magician – the world’s
greatest – becomes a quadriplegic attended by an impossibly beautiful and
devoted nurse. After 14 years in a wheelchair, he wants to die. His mother, an
apprentice magician, and an old flame enter the plot as well. It culminates in
a courtroom drama. With dancing. And songs.

Controversy is swirling around the film. Actors
have complained that there is too much English in it. A novelist has sued,
claiming that Mr Bhansali stole the plot of his unpublished novel, and a lawyer
has sued because it impugns the professional standing of lawyers because
euthanasia is illegal in India. Guzaarish’s launch will take place on November

Michael Cook