With the Supreme Court allowing passive euthanasia, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali recalls his own strong plea for the same in Guzaarish. And now another Hollywood film seems to have borrowed Bhansali's idea of happy-dying from Guzaarish.
In Andy Serkis’ bio-pic Breathe on Robin Cavendish who contracted polio at the age of 28 and defied doctors’ doomsday declarations by out-living all the medical prophecies, Cavendish played by the brilliant actor Andrew Garfield decides to end his life in a nice happy surrounding inviting his closest friends and loved ones for a farewell party on the night before he pulls the plug on his life. A startling ode to euthanasia this was the exact scenario constructed in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish seven years earlier where the quadriplegic hero Ethan (Hrithik Roshan) invites his close friends over for a happy send-off.
A coincidental similarity between two euthanasic films made in two different continents and time zones?
Says Sanjay Bhansali, “I haven’t seen Breathe. But the similarities must be unintentional. I remember when I had made Guzaarish there was plenty of hue and cry over my plea to allow the irreversibly ailing to end their lives.” Guzaarish, which is about a paraplegic hero (Hrithik Roshan’s) plea for death was based on someone close to the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Though he wouldn’t like to name the person it’s someone very close to the director whom he saw going through intense suffering. “Though I am no stranger to pain, what I saw in this person took pain and suffering to another level. I realized that there comes a point in every life when a full stop is the only solution.” said Bhansali. This person, who is both a close relative and a dear friend of the director, did not have the emotional or physical strength to end his own life. This is when the suffering person and Sanjay began to read up extensively on mercy killing. Says the source, “Because of the suffering of this friend I began to get seriously interested in the subject of mercy killing. I began to read up as much as possible on the subject. My research showed that mercy killing was prohibited by law in many countries including India .Almost a year of studying the sensitive subject I concluded that every human being should have the right to die with dignity.”
That’s how Guzaarish was born.
Says the director, “The pain and suffering and the dignity with which I’ve seen someone very close to my heart bear with them, promoted me to research on the subject of mercy killing. I was shocked to read newspaper reports of people pleading to let the life of a critically ailing child/parent/spouse go.”
While researching on the subject of euthanasia Bhansali fobbed off all temptation to watch films on the subject of mercy killing. He said, “I didn’t want to get even remotely influenced in my thought and vision by what other filmmakers have done on the subject.”