The screen dissolves into black. A little androglossian strained voice starts to speak-out, feebly. It narrates a story as a first-person account. A story that is nothing but a state-of-mind. A story that transforms the mind and vision of blackness into white. All this transformation accompanied with a lot of trouble, anguish, agony and zillion other words that you relate to the word PAIN. Cut.
Film Fare Awards 2005 – And the filmfare award for the best – film, screenplay, direction, camera, back ground music, actor, actress and child artist goes to the cast and crew of BLACK. Will sport a moustache if this doesn’t come true. Sometimes, even if you are stiff emotionsless critic, you fall shaken with emotions when a movie moves so deeply from the heart. Black is one such gem. A classic that can stand over gimmicks and modernities of film techniques. Cut.
A Hellenkellrish story that carves lives of two people, where both become teacher and student to the other, at various points of the thorn-filled garden of life. A story that could well be complained for being straightly copied / stollen or even inspired from the life of Hellen Keller, known to us from the english textbooks of 4th grade.
Take a vivid look into the black, non-imaged, non-pixelated, muted life of Michelle McNally [Rani Mukherjee], living in Shimla. Take a detailed view into the life of the humane, adorable and angry old Debraj Sahai [Amitabh Bachchan] who is losing his worthy life and it’s memories to Alzheimer’s diesease. Their lives gets inter-twined when Debraj comes to hand-hold the blind ‘n’ deaf Michele. And what would you teach to a child who has no idea about the world around her, except for the sense of smell, taste and touch. All Michelle knows is her maa who has a hand that is soft that touches her cheeks. Any other hand and Michelle reveals her ultra famous emotion, anger. It is this anger that when postively charged gets her moving in her life to the heights, she never had imagined even in the wildest of dreams.
The movie moves firmly for a two and half hours without a single boring frame. Not only it makes you cry, laugh and applaud but also it teaches you that a movie needn’t pronounce a message. A movie can just arouse plethora of emotions in you. The physically challenged have a zest for life. A thirst to know more and know it completely. Shallow knowledge gets them upset. Their anger is sharp and uncontrolled for they are the ones who react appropriately at situations than the normal mortals who are numb with emotions. Michelle gets angered when Sahai slaps her for not typing as fast as expected. She reacts immediately. From 10 words a minute, she types 30 a minute. She bursts out when her sister makes a miunderstands her on the engagement day. Proves that she has much more to offer than what’s known to the outisde world. Also she becomes a patient teacher to her ex-teacher only to create a miracle on him.
For the first time, one would understand the demon behind Alzheimers disease. You could forget to carry a pen, forget to meet someone at four o’ clock. But what if you forget yourself, your past and every single thing around you. Terrible.
As Debraj Sahai, Amitabh Bachchan carries the entire movie on him. With the intonation so accurate and expressions very classy he takes away the cake in the movie. I’ve never seen such a spell binding male performance in a bollywood flick before. With those wide-open eyes and that stupendous acting performance, I see Kamal Hassan. As a south Indian, I’ve known Amitabh as a bollywood hero compared to the Rajinikanth of south. Being a Rajinikanth admirer, I hated Amitabh for a reason because some of Rajinikanth’s earlier flicks were remakes of Amithabh’s bollywood hits. And I hated to believe this fact. As a carorepathi host, Amitabh was convicing but did not catch my fancy. Many bollywood films that featured after that used him as a brand ambassador for their films. This one is a killer effort. A perfect way for Amitabh to prove he is truly the the BIG B. As he catches the young Michelle with strands of her hair to control the blind kid’s anger, as he slaps her when she could never type more than 10 words a minute, as he walks effortlessly with his head shaking of aging and being suffered with Alzheimers, Amitabh creates magic. He adds color to this rather black movie. A true champion.
Rani Mukherjee. WOW. No exaggerations but this is far most one the best performances by any actress in recent times. As a grown Michelle McNally, she occupies the second half of the movie ans stays throughout in the heart. She has this amazing voice that brings in reality to the movie. It’s her voice that narrates the entire movie. A swaggering gait with a walking stick on her hand, she sometimes reminds the Chaplin walk. And not only that but also dances so rapturously. She listens to the college lecture by feeling the lip movement of her mentor. What everyone does in 3 years, she does it in a two decades withstanding all the pains of being blind and earing impaired. And yeah, even as a blind woman, she wants to know how it feels to be kissed by a man on her lips. She has just her teacher to help her with that. Afterall, isn’t he the one who teached her life, maa, papa, water, cry, snow and every other damned thing of life. She asks. He teaches. A classy scene that brings out gross realities of life as they are without exaggerations. Rani Mukerjee can be announced as the Indian actress of the decade, undoubtedly.
Ayesha Kapur, as the young Michelle grabs the first half with her lovely debut performance. With a movie full of scope for performance, it is the casting department which needs to be appreciated to have casted Ayesha Kapur as young Michelle. Hats off.
Ironically, for a movie that details the life of a blind and deaf girl, the images and the sound stand out first class. Ravi K Chandran, known for his stylish modern camerawork in Mani Ratnam‘s Kannathil Muthamittal and Aayitha Ezhuthu goes in for a conservative yet astonishing camera work. It is through his lens that we look into the life of Michelle and Sahai. The lighting is modern but the camera angles are truly old fashioned. And probably thats what Bhansali drove Ravi K Chandran to do. If only the movie was shot and edited as modern as Aayitha Ezhuthu, it would have failed to impress. This slow movie requires patient camera movements but yet needs to touch the audience. Pre-dominantly colored with black, wherever possible, the color tone itself is rich, lavish and conveys what the movie is upto. I could devote a paragraph for the music by Monty. It would be right to do that. The music and camera are inter-weaved in the movie. So is the review. If only we get to watch the movie with either one of this(visual and sound), it wouldn’t make any sense . The camera pitches the emotion while the music accompanies and heightens it ten fold. There are no songs however and hence the distractions are reduced largely.
The editing and the sets adds more value. The sets of the bungalow as situated in Shimla are realistic and to re-create them after a fire accident must have been a great effort for the entire team. From the title card, it looks like most of the movie was shot in Himachal Pradesh.
Bhansali did a great job in Khamoshi but it was just not reaching there. His efforts that followed in Hum Dil De Chukke Sanam and Devdas were lavish and were heavily commercialised. With Black, Bhansali proves that he is the bollywood master of melodrama and blacks out the better movies of Bollwood. Black is a picture postcard movie. Any single shot can be blown out into a poster and to this Bhansali has compromised to heavlily exaggerate at some places. By making the story revolve around an Anglo-Indian family situated in a a hill-station, Bhansali tries to show places, people and their costumes which a normal middle class Indian, couldn’t relate so easily. That gives you a feel that the movie happens far away from India. You can shirk these off for the kind of movie Black is. Am sure this effort of Bhansali wouldn’t go unnoticed. If only the reviews/reactions to Black turn-out the otherway it could be because of the prepossessed mind-set on Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his movies.
Black is an effort that needs to be showcased inside and also outside India. While outside India, people would definetly see Black, it needs to be taken to places deep inside India. The best way would be to dub them in many regional languages without affecting the moments of the movie. If you don’t want the rest-of-the-world to dub bollywood from looking at the colorful Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice, represent Black to the world as an ideal Bollywood flick and articulate the fact that we are one of the movie super stars. For it takes a huge effort to create a movie of this excellence. Whatever it takes, beg-borrow-steal, watch BLACK.