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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

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Warrior decides to die

Musing in awe of Guzaarish:

The hulk of the cast rusts slowly. Located in seemingly infinite meadows, everything about the castle indicates aristocracy and preciseness. Amid all this refinery lives a man struggling with - not for - life.

When a fly roams in his nose, Ethan gives it a fight with a smile. Being a quadriplegic –inactive four limbs: arms and legs – he cannot physically fight off the fly. He spends one whole night powerlessly fighting off the rainwater falling on his forehead from a ceiling hole; his voice goes unheard in that vast castle of regal remains.

Ethan becomes a cripple following a ruined magic trick. But he continues on with his magic: inspiration. He goes on to inspire both able and disabled. He was a firm believer in learning to fly.

He ultimately becomes the living inspiration for hundreds and thousands of souls. He becomes the warrior who is never willing to give up or give in. Bereft of physical vigour he fought every hurdle with either smile or laughter. He fights to swim against the odds.


Guzaarish: it’s selfless, rather than altruistic, love

And finally the warrior decides to die.

Ethan discloses his intention first to his best friend cum lawyer Devyani. And then the nurse. And then the doc. And then, he conducts a radio survey. Everyone, but one, votes in opposition. His former girl friend was the only one to say yes after a chain of ‘no’s.

Ironically all his loved ones: nurse, lawyer friend, mother, doc, former girlfriend, and the student agree to give him what he wants: mercy killing. What is that love? I love to call it selfless love even more than altruistic. To have him around gives happiness to all these, but they decide against their own wishes for the sake of Ethan, who wants to get rid of suffocating and suffering.

This is a story of love. Of a former girl friend, nurse, best friend and mother. They all consent to mercy killing, because they feel the gravity of his suffocation. Because they cannot bear to see him suffocating for ages to come, without any hope of improvement.

Even now he remains to be a warrior in his fight for freedom. He manages to muster support from all and sundry and build a sound opinion: Ethan should be given mercy killing. India, like most countries, does not allow mercy killing – euphemized word of euthanasia. So do the Judge and the prosecutor. But strangely they cannot find a witness who would stand against mercy killing of Ethan.

Guzaarish is a love story – between the nurse and the patient - but funnily doesn’t involve intimate scenes. The intimacy is confined to words – that too, in a mild form. At least the theme doesn’t enable that, especially patient being a quadriplegic. But their love is visible in a strong sense. The way the nurse nurtures the patient, and how dependent the latter is, slowly evolve into love.

And of course this is a story of forgiveness. When his student has a confession to make, Ethan already knows it. Right throughout Ethan knew his student was the son of Yaseer Siddique who ruined Ethan’s magic trick and made him quadriplegic.

When the student’s face betrays surprise, Ethan breaks into his emotionally powerful smile. At the end of court proceedings, Ethan seeks permission for a magic trick.

In a large trunk the prosecutor is asked to stay for sixty seconds. Just sixty seconds. The trunk is locked and in a few seconds the prosecutor starts banging inside begging to get him out. Coming out he asks, why Ethan couldn’t realize how suffocating it was inside a trunk. Suffocation! Ethan’s mere response was ‘sixty seconds’ and without words he expressed it’s the same he had been experiencing for 14 years.

Even though they were convinced, the judge and the prosecutor sit helpless in their bench ruling the verdict that mercy killing is unconstitutional hence disallowed.

For me mercy killing sounds paradox. How can killing be merciful? You cannot have any virtuous feeling when you do it: killing. But for a moment I was lost in thought what I would do if that happened to anyone I love close to life.

That question kept on haunting me even as the theatre lights come back to life and the audience rise one by one to leave home. Guzaarish is a love story – I love that part – but above all it’s about a warrior, a warrior who decides to die.

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