A shamelessly manipulative Bollywood meller that's opulently decorated and luxuriously photographed but rarely rings true emotionally.

A quadriplegic petitions for the right to die in “Guzaarish,” a shamelessly manipulative Bollywood meller that’s opulently decorated and luxuriously photographed but rarely rings true emotionally. Toplining audience draws Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, helmer Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s first outing since “Saawariya” has cumed a limp $4.1 million domestically since Nov. 19, and has notched only modest offshore numbers. Ancillary prospects appear bleak.

Holed up in a Goan Gothic mansion since an accident 14 years ago, former master magician Ethan Mascarenhas (Roshan) wants to end it all and orders attorney Devyani (Shernaz Patel) to challenge Indian laws forbidding euthanasia. Cringingly cheerful through his public “Ethan-asia” campaign, Ethan is attended by dull trainee conjurer Omar (Aditya Roy Kapur), and Sofia D’Souza (Rai Bachchan), a beautiful nurse in designer gowns whose reasons for dedicating 12 years to a single patient are never explained. Desperately pulling rabbits out of the hat in the final reels, pic crashes with sudden entrances and exits of previously unseen major players in Ethan’s and Sofia’s lives. Almost every physical gesture is accompanied by a flourish from the overbearing orchestral score.

Guzaarish

India

Production

A UTV release of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali Films, UTV Motion Pictures production. (International sales: UTV, Mumbai.) Produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Executive producers, Chetan Deloekar, Aashish Tandel. Co-producers, Zarina Mehta, Deven Khote, Siddharth Roy Kapur. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Screenplay, Bhansali, Bhavani Iyer, Vibhu Puri.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sudeep Chatterjee; editor, Hemal Kothari; music, Tubby-Parik; production designers, Acropolis, Sumit Basu, Snigdha Basu, Rajnish Hedao; costume designer, Subyasachi Mukherjee. Reviewed at Hoyts Cinema Paris, Sydney, Nov 22, 2010. Running time: 130 MIN. (I: 62 MIN. II: 68 MIN.)

With

Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shernaz Patel, Aditya Roy Kapur, Nafisa Ali, Suhel Seth, Vijay Crishna, Ash Chandler, Makrand Deshpande. (Hindi, English dialogue)

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