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First things first. On Easter Sunday I pondered whether I should go see
the film "Black" -- a film about which I had heard nothing in the
popular press, until I saw its title on the cinema's Marquee. Not
surprising really, since the film appears at this point to have only
been released in the specialty Hindi-language Bollywood film circuit in
Canada. Which is a real pity because if I had not made an accidental
point of presenting myself at a movie-house that was actually screening
the picture, as a Euro-heritage native-born Canadian I would likely
still be walking around in a typically North American ethno-centric
film fog about this excellent picture.
When I initially asked the theatre's ticket clerk what "Black" was about, his description hardly got me excited. It's the story of a teacher who helps a disabled woman. It didn't sound terribly engaging to me. But boy, was I wrong! While I am not a complete stranger to a number of Bollywood-type films, I'm lucky if I see one or two in a year, and at that, it's usually been because someone else has suggested it. While few of these "B" class movies "deserve" screen time in mainstream North American theatres, this is hardly the case for "Black". It is not a "B" class flic.
If only because the film's Director Sanjay Bhansali co-wrote the script, this obviously allowed him to imagine how he might want to capture the story with beautiful emotionally-charged cinematography. And what a sophisticated symbolically packed feast it was at that! Yet backing up the impeccable imagery was an equally top-drawer story. One dimension tells the story of a once well-regarded teacher who has come to the end of his financial, if not his existentially-justified rope, a man whose talents are neither fully recognized or completely appreciated. Then during this 11th hour turmoil, he receives a letter asking for help from the parents of a young deaf and blind girl. Her story is of course equally gripping, a girl effectively trapped in an internal prison in which language, a vital connector within herself as well as to the outside world, is missing. In this sense, both characters need one another, for both are on the common and all too true brink of being "disposable people" - people ripe relegated to become out-of-sight out-of-mind statistics in a faceless institution.
This feature of the story speaks to a possibility few of us care to contemplate, namely: "Who would care for me if everything fell to pieces?". It is a possibility reminiscent of and anchored in a time when as children we depended entirely on our parents for nurturance and love. This I think is what gives this story its privileged access to the inner-recesses of our deep emotional need for interconnection. And because it is a story told as much with emotionally poignant visuals as it is with emotionally gripping dialogue, these have a way of by-passing the usual intellectual filters we erect to both define and "protect" ourselves from one another. This film will have none of that. And the emotionally-forceful performances offered by the male and female leads simply seal our fates, leading us to co-journey with them in their heroic quest to find the light that will illumine us as much as them.
Few are the number of viewers who could experience this film and not leave better people, if only because it succeeds in allowing us to recognize the value of caring for one another as the greatest triumph, if not the most important ingredient in all of our other successes as a species. In short, this film strives to restore one's faith in the value of life and love, and does very well in that task. And what more can anyone ask from any motion picture? It is a work of genius, well executed, and a triumph of film-making, regardless the culture. Which is why I believe it deserves a lofty 10.
My uncle gave up watching Hindi movies as he believed that there was no good Hindi movie after 'Anand'. He started watching bollywood movies again after watching 'Black'. Black is Hindi cinema at it's best. Obviously, Amitabh Bachchan plays the lead in it...who else can? While watching this movie, I laughed, I cried and I enjoyed myself. Amitabh Bachchan trying to show 'bullshit'in sign language and Rani Mukherjee trying to hit the person who bumped into her. Amitabh Bachchan, is inspiring. There's nothing to say about him...as he left me speechless. Rai Mukherjee's performance is by far her best. Watch this movie...it's the best you'll watch in ages!
Who cares if it's like Miracle Worker....it's still such a beautiful
movie. And believe me, it's different and if you stupid, idiotic people
can't remember, the movie was made in Helen Keller's honor and they
spent a whole day at her institution. And the only it has in common to
Miracle Worker is a Deaf and blind girl. The description of the
blackness she sees and how in the end she helps Amitabh learn to
remember is original.
Black Shows darkness in a frightening, confusing, frustrating place, a whirlwind of emotion and anger. Michelle lives in a time where little can be done for her. Anger rots inside her for the frustration she feels for not seeing her sister's face or hear her mother's voice. She's a prisoner. She feels excluded. For hours upon hours she tries to scream but nothing comes out...just distorted noises that she can't even hear. Black is a living hell...until she meets Amitabh bachan's character....her brings light into Michelle's terrifying world.
Rani Mukerji is fantastic and she is NOT annoying because you dumb haters just don't see the depth. And she was't just acting like she thought a deaf, mute,and blind person would. They actually spent a day at the institution. Though it strays from the typical musical/love story/gangster-beats-up-hero-but-he-doesn't-care-hes-bloody and/or is dying Indian movie( i think those movies are bull crap), its beautiful! Give it a chance! You'll really learn something!
Here's very briefly what the movie is about:
It is the story of Helen Keller & Anne Mansfield Sullivan, suitably modified though, to nicely fit into the Bollywood mould.
That however should not take anything away from the three main highlights of the film:
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Direction, Rani Mukherjee's execution of a difficult role, & Mr. Amitabh Bachchan!!!
Bhansali is best at stories highlighting human struggle. And with this adaptation he comes up trumps once again. He also proves that if you have a great story & just one great actor in a meaty role, you have a hit on your hands. Strange how the so called moguls of Hindi cinema cannot see that!
Rani Mukherjee's performance as the Indian Helen Keller (Michelle) is very commendable. It is just her misfortune that she was pitted against Amitabh Bachchan in the BEST Role (Devraj Sahay) of his life!!!
Mr. Bachchan tends to dwarf everyone. To all those who doubt that he is the GREATEST Actor this country has produced, go watch Black. You will return transformed for life! From the moment he comes on screen, he mesmerizes you. And he holds you till the last frame of the movie. He gives you goose bumps with his performance. And to think that the effort doesn't even show...
Now if only other film makers would give him roles worthy of his calibre as an actor, we could well have our first Best Actor Oscar ever. No kidding. Go see the film!
And Oh! I almost forgot. The little girl who plays the young Michelle is the best child actor this author ever seen! And that includes the Macaulay Culkins & Haley Joel Osments of the world!
Trust me! Go see the film!
I saw this movie in first week of its release itself and i liked movie too much ,much more than any Hindi movie till date but i didn't want to compare it with any other Hindi movie. SOme ppl are arguing that this movie is crap or similar words for it but i couldn't find any suitable explanation for saying the movie is not gud enough to be a part of one of the best movies ever. The concept,acting,direction and screenplay was superb. This is one of the few movies which got potential to bind u emotionally with the movie . THe best part was SLB tried something very diff and took huge risk by doing something which was never done before. No songs and very apt music which runs throughout the movie. I do agree that this movie certainly deserves an Oscar and i do agree that it was totally framed for it as the length of the movie, most of the dialogs in English,total British background, Cristian characters but i guess this can bring golden era to bollywood which is already contributing maximum no. of movies(even more than Hollywood) by providing some excellent works. Good work SLB
Black is an unusual and interesting film in idea and visualization.
It's a very special film and there is no doubt; Sanjay Leela Bhansali
is among the best talents Indian Film Industry has produced.
There have been films like Sadma, Sparsh and Koi Mil Gaya and Sanjay's directorial debut Khamoshi - The Musical, where the protagonists of the films were physically challenged. KHAMOSHI - THE MUSICAL, was a tale of a deaf and dumb couple and their ordinary child. Despite the presence of matinée idols like Salman Khan, Manisha Koirala and Nana Patekar, the film failed.
Black cannot be described in sheer words. It has been handled with extreme kindliness and it does boast of a plot that's rarely attempted on the Indian screen. Before this movie, Gulzar made a movie 'Koshish' in early 70's starring Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar for which they have won the awards.
Michelle McNally (Ayesha Kapur/Rani Mukerji), born to an Anglo-Indian family, is deaf and blind. She is a bright and intelligent girl and she lives in the world of black and this frustrates her because she desires to speak. Therefore, because of her frustration she becomes harsh and cruel on numerous events.
Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) is a strange person. He is an alcoholic, a teacher to the deaf and blind children. The principal of the school believes in his ability and sends him to the McNally house to teach Michelle. Debraj's arrival at the McNally home is far from favorable, as he arrives intoxicated, annoyed and impolite. On encountering Michelle, Debraj realizes that the only way to tackle her is to distress her, be violent at times and at the same time, show her the love.
Debraj succeeds and Michelle amazingly learns her first word - Ma. But this is just the beginning. There are several battles to be won. His dreams of Michelle going to a college with students without any disability. But, at this stage, Debraj starts to suffer from Alzheimer. He slowly forgets everything including all words and their meanings. The roles are now reversed!
Sanjay Leela Bhansali explanation of Helen Keller's outstanding life and the role Annie Sullivan played in her life. The real-life story was presented on the big screen in the 1962's Hollywood flick THE MIRACLE WORKER, which starred Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft for which both the performers won the Oscars.
A film like BLACK relies heavily on performances and Bhansali has extracted award-worthy work from practically the entire cast. When you talk of BLACK, it's not just Bachchan or Rani's work you would like to extol, but Shernaz Patel, Nandana Sen, Dhritiman Chaterji and Ayesha Kapur's contribution as well.
International Cinematography by Ravi K. Chandran. Each and every frame is laudable of a great compliment. Omung Kumar has created lively sets for the film. The Shimla shopping mall has been reconstructed to precision in Mumbai. Background music by Monty is apt. BLACK belongs to Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji primarily. After Khakee and Dev, this one is his best performance and for this role, he felt that for the last 25 years I have been working in the movies but this is the first time that I have shown such an interest. Bachchan comes up with a performance that he'll always be remembered for!
There's no denying that Rani delivers her best performance to date and her performance in this movie has topped on the number one spot and crossed her early performances i.e. 'Yuva', 'Hum Tum' and 'Veer - Zaara'. Rani has conveyed through expressions exclusively. Here's a performance that should act as a reference guide for all aspiring actors. And yes, she's bound to walk away with all major awards next year as well!
Shernaz Patel is exceptional. Her sequences with Bachchan are awesome. Dhritiman Chaterji is excellent. Nandana Sen impresses in a small but significant role. Ayesha Kapur is first-rate and she should be given a special award next year in every award ceremony. And also Best Perfromances award should be given to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee. If Bollywood has to move ahead with time we will be open to experiments like this. A must watch for those who like different cinema. After Lagaan, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, Kaante, Khakee, this is the movie, which can compete with any Hollywood Movie. Rating: 4 Out Of 5
For a long time I would watch Hindi / Tamil movies only when ironing.
You don't care if you miss some parts - there is always gratuitous
mandatory dances, fights and incidental humor.
Black stands out among the Hindi movies. The brilliant acting, dramatic tension, breathtaking views of the mansions in Simla and the story-telling technique blended to create a great experience. Agreed Amitab is a great actor. But Rani Mukerjee mounts a respectable challenge to him. Supporting actors were great too.
If Hindi movies are half as good as this, I would watch more.
I had a bonanza holiday break watching Black, Paheli and Mangal Pande. Looks like there is some real light at the end of the tunnel, after all! I am now a declared fan of Rani Mukerjee.
Excellent performance of the two main actors: Rani Mukherjee is
unrecognizable and believable in her role of a blind person & Amitabh
Bachchan, well, wonderful as usual! It is a sad and dark movie though.
I do not think that this movie is about love nor God... but about hope
for sure! It is a good movie, well played. For people looking for a
Hindi movie without the Bollywood songs and dances, this one will make
them happy; there is nothing of that sort here in this film that is a
bit long (124 minutes!).
For those who admire Amitiji(I am one of them), I guess you must watch this movie because he really is incredible!
Sanjay Leeela Bhansali's Black is definitely a good film. It is
brilliantly scripted, made and executed, and it is also profound and
complex. Many have called it a pretentious show, and indeed, that's
something very obvious and annoying. I'm sure Bhansali from the very
outset had planned to get many awards, five-star reviews, and
"the-best-filmmaker-in-the-country" titles, but that said, nobody can
completely begrudge him since this movie is as impressive and
well-invested as it is ostentatious, and it deserves the hype. Let's
start with saying that technically and visually Black is a treat. It
boasts of fantastic sets and wonderful costumes, and the cinematography
is incredibly good. All these, along with the superb background score,
create a beautifully dark film. Having said that, this may be the exact
reason why many viewers found it hard to relate to, and that's
something I can easily understand, particularly after having seen his
best feature to date, Khamoshi: The Musical, in which everything was
kept simple. Here there's no simplicity: everything is lavish, big,
grandiose - and that's why it's often labelled pretentious. The film is
emotional yet unsentimental, which is good, but then, one of its main
flaws is the fact that more than once it resorts to emotional
manipulation, trying to forcibly wring tears.
Well, one thing is sure and it is that you can always expect good acting in a SLB film, particularly when it has an Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan's performance is out of this world. His character goes through many phases, and each time you feel he's sinking into it more and more, so much that no words can be found to describe it. Seeing an actor of his calibre still being there, and playing a part with such passion, intensity, emotion, anger and hunger, makes one believe that the sky is the limit. Along with Yuva, Hum Tum and Veer-Zaara, Black is a film that constructs Rani Mukherjee's transformation from an average performer to a mature actress. She plays the character brilliantly. The scene which had her crying on the phone to her mom, is one of her career-best acts. It's cruel that she is cast opposite Bachchan, as she can't take the whole credit to herself, and well, frankly speaking, in my view her role is not as powerful as his, as it is a technical part that requires extensive training rather than soul. It's still a memorable performance, and in her case, if the sky is the limit, Black was probably the sky. Without taking anything from Mukherjee, I was more impressed and amazed by the far more superior performance of Ayesha Kapur, who played the young Michelle to perfection. Kapur is simply flawless in this role.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a crafted filmmaker who knows his work and his goals very well. In spite of its flaws, Black remains artistic and it is overall a moving movie experience. The words hope, love, dedication and success always come to the mind while watching it. It might not be original, it may be extremely manipulative at points, but the effort that was put into it by the entire cast and crew is evident and appreciable. Black is definitely better than most of the films made in the Hindi film industry. Though for me too it is a mixed bag, I admit that the first time I saw it, I kept thinking of it after the show had ended and for quite some time. This is an achievement few films can achieve (for me), and here's why my high rating.
When the credits started rolling on this movie, my wife and I looked at
each other and both spontaneously said "That was one of the best movies
I have ever seen". Sure, it was inspired by "The Miracle Worker", with
Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, bit visually it knocks it for six.
Awesome awesome cinematography. Let me say that again. Awesome awesome cinematography. Nearly EVERY shot is a wonder!
Amitabh Bhachchan's acting is his best ever (at least for western audiences), and beats most recent performances from Hollywood.
I don't consider this film a remake, but even if you do, you still need to see it.
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