Jaya Biswas
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is back with Guzaarish, his new film about a paraplegic magician, played by Hrithik Roshan, who requests for euthanasia to end his trauma. Aishwarya essays the role of his nurse. What many may not know is that the 2004 Spanish film The Sea Inside had exactly the same plot. Based on the real life story of a sailor-turned-poet Ramdon Sampredo, who became a quadriplegic following an accident, the film dwells on his three-decade long struggle to get the government grant him euthanasia. Sampredo, immaculately essayed by Spanish heartthrob Javier Bardem, had two women in his life, a lawyer and a nurse. Is it possible Bhansali hasn’t heard of this film? Highly unlikely, one would think, considering how well versed Bhansali is in world cinema.
Not just the plot. The scenes in the trailer where Hrithik is seen on a wheelchair staring at the sea is a straight lift from the Bardem film. Even the narration that goes with it sounds similar to that in The Sea Inside. Moreover, the scenes where Hrithik exhibits his magic tricks on stage have uncanny resemblance to Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.  And this is not the first time the filmmaker has been allegedly accused of ripping off scenes from classics. Remember a sequence from Black where Amitabh Bachchan pulls out little Ayesha Kapur from the depths of darkness and turns her into a ‘fine young lady’? Or the scene in which Bachchan separates Kapur from her parents and begins the process of teaching the girl. These scenes were originally captured on camera by American filmmaker Arthur Penn in the 1962 Hollywood  drama The Miracle Worker. The film won five Oscars. Bhansali’s brilliance was in copying Penn’s work frame by frame, shot by shot, angle by angle. Does he still want to call himself a filmmaker with a niche?