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Guzaarish takes it the Romeo & Juliet way

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Aishwarya and Hrithik in Guzaarish
Sanjay Leela Bhansali Aishwarya Bachchan's on-screen chemistry with Hrithik Roshan got more passionate. To enhance the intensity between the Dhoom and Jodhaa-Akbar pair, Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) decided to include material from Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 classic screen adaptation of Romeo & Juliet .The cult blockbuster had catapulted Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting to instant stardom and made Shakespeare's romantic play a worldwide bestseller.

As a complementary referential source to Hrithik and Aishwarya's intense mutual feeling for one another on screen, SLB decided to incorporate original dialogues from Zeffirelli's film, forcing his efficient but flabbergasted team (many of whom had never heard of Shakespeare, let alone Zeffirelli) into a hysterical worldwide hunt for the material.

The producers UTV gently suggested that searching out and acquiring rights for the original Shakespearean dialogues in the voice of Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting from Zeffirelli's film at this late stage when the film was approaching release, could prove... a tad tough. But SLB was adamant. And with reason.

Explains the director, "I wanted a correctly intense reference point for Hrithik and Aishwarya's feelings and conversations. I thought the sentiment of thwarted passion and smothered intensity of star-crossed lovers in Romeo & Juliet expressed my protagonists' inexpressible feelings very well. So yes I've included dialogues from Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet in my film."

But why Zeffirelli, whose Romeo & Juliet came 41 years ago, when those Shakespearean lines have been done a million times since then?

Says Bhansali, "To me Zeffirelli's version of Romeo & Juliet is the ultimate tribute to Shakespeare's love story. So many times, I've wanted to do my own version of Romeo & Juliet. But one look at Zeffirelli's film makes me feel I can never equal his beauty grandeur harmony and principal casting. Where I'll find as perfect a Romeo and a Juliet as Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey?"

Was it easy getting permission to use material from Zeffirelli's film in Guzaarish? Laughs SLB, "Not really. We had to seek out people who were either long gone or in retirement. But I was adamant. This was my only chance to pay homage to one of my all-time favourite screen romances."

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