Black (2005) Poster

(2005)

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10/10
I never comment on IMDb, but in this case, I'll make an exception
Andrew_P22 February 2007
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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10/10
Black can restore one's faith in life and love
ex96728 March 2005
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.
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8/10
Good movie and good acting!
vrnq12 February 2006
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!
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8/10
I changed my views about Hindi movies too...
kairanga12 January 2006
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.
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10/10
Why don't people like it?
mamamia12309810 June 2006
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!
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10/10
awesome movie...one of a kind!
tnkcool10 April 2005
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!
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8/10
Pretentious yet impressive; manipulative yet moving
Peter Young8 September 2008
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.
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10/10
Great Movie! Good Solid Direction! Awesome Performances!!!
tumharabaap9 February 2005
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!
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Black will be remembered as a 'Classic' in days to come
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
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10/10
Nice work ....
sumeet7 March 2005
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
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10/10
Black is an uplifting, engaging and deeply moving cinematic experience.
BLACK is one of the most powerful films I've seen in a decade. Forget anything and everything you know or think you know about Bollywood films, BLACK is world class movie making of a standard "Hollywood" aspires to.

Director Sanjai Leela Bhansali has used the art of visual storytelling brilliantly - coupled with a wonderful and engaging screenplay. Black is magnificently shot and beautifully edited with heart stopping performances.

I had never heard of Amitabh Bachchan until a few months ago and now I am simply in awe. In India, they call him the big B... after watching Black, it's easy to see why. And the brilliance of Amitabh is perfectly balanced with stunning performances from the beautiful Rani Mukerji and child actress, Ayesha Kapoor.

BLACK is a product of a new generation of Indian filmmakers and they are rapidly raising the bar. I wonder how long it will be before the Hollywood rip-off version is released... though I very much doubt it will leave a mark on the original.

BLACK is a must see. But I warn you, have tissues on standby... if you have human emotions, you will laugh a lot and cry even more. You will fall in love with these characters, be uplifted by their story and thankful you saw BLACK.
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5/10
Pretentious sensitivity - The insider's story
venuzz_angel1 March 2005
The story of making of Black is something like this (as against the one given by SLB that he got this idea while making Khamoshee, a film he wanted to make since he'd seen Gulzar's Koshish): Screenwriter Prakash Kapadia (Devdas, Black) met Bhansali at the premiere of P Kapadia's Gujarati film Dariya Chhoru (directed by Vipul Shah of Aankhen fame). Bhansali was invited to the screening by Aatish Kapadia (writer of Aankhen and the then screenwriter of Devdas). Bhansali came up to Prakash Kapadia after the screening and told him, "You are the real hero of the film." Of course, a few days later, Aatish Kapadia was replaced by Prakash Kapadia to write Devdas for SLB. During the making of Devdas and later, Prakash Kapadia would discuss all his plays (some 20 great stories that he made in his 20 year long illustrious theatre career). Among these, were two plays: one was a story called "Aatam Vinjhe Paankh", a Gujarati play inspired straight from "The Miracle Worker" and the other was a story of an ageing teacher suffering from the Alzheimer's. Post Devdas, Bhansali asked PK to render the story of Bajirao and Mastani for him. While PK was busy with that, Bhansali clubbed the two stories of Miracle Worker and Alzhiemer's, with the help of co-writer Bhavani Iyer and developed a complete English script titled "Black". When he sent the script to PK, PK rejected most of the screenplay as dry and dull. With PK entering the scene, it was decided that SLB will make a bilingual film instead of an out-and-out English film. SLB approached the Helen Keller Institute for rights and assistance. He was denied the rights, but was offered the assistance. So the secondary level problem had now become a primary one. They had to deviate from Helen Keller's life and The Miracle Worker as much as they could. They gave a thank you note to the institute in the film, but couldn't mention anywhere that Black is indeed inspired from the Miracle Worker or Keller's life. Problem 2 was they had to expand the role of Debraj's character because it was going to be played by Amitabh Bachhan. In this confusion of events, they ended up creating a mess out of a great story. They maintained Anne Sullivan's character of a half blind teacher (Bachhan getting the eye drops from Ms. Nayar), but added Alzhiemer's to it for further drama and forced sensitivity. They maintained most of the other characters, but couldn't use the real names, though they ended up using the same costume, setting and make-up. They didn't use the same education techniques of Anne Sullivan and because of their lack of imagination, they ended up making a 60-year old frustrated compulsive brute instead of a compassionate imaginative teacher. They still used the high points in Keller's life like the fountain "water" scene. For those who defend this kind of plagiarism by saying that remakes are made all the time, are forgetting a basic priciple - remakes are made after acquiring the rights from the original. SLB and PK didn't research through archives and works of Keller, but instead just relied on an artiste's rendering of her life "The Miracle Worker". Several films are made with Gandhi in it, but they do not show a man named "McNally" getting thrown out of a train for being brown and inventing satyagraha. Get my point?

Upward downward arrogant pretentious cinema designed for awards and critical appreciation in a country which has had very little collective self analysis in the last 50 years. I think that pretty much defines Black. It makes the semi-intellectual and pseudo-sensitive life forms to feel important and profound for having the ability to identify and appreciate "great" cinema. I'll compare this feeling to the way the English speaking Indian elite feel about themselves. Though they won't admit it, deep down they still carry the genes of slavery, and feel proud to be on the same level as the "international" (read American) English speaking communities. That's precisely the problem with this kind of contorted cinema. Just because a film looks like a Hollywood Oscar winning film, doesn't mean that it's a good film. Black is empty of substance. It doesn't make any attempt in understanding the inner world of a person born deaf and blind, while creating an illusion that it's in fact doing so.

Good stepping stone for just out-of-the-cocoon-self-proclaimed-film-analysts-and-intellectuals, though.
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10/10
Incredible
amandiwithaplan30 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A most inspiring story that takes you through a world of darkness and unconditional love. Michelle cannot see or hear; there is no light in her life. Debraj, her teacher, brings a light which will chase away her never-ending darkness. They toil through her ignorance and stubbornness. He drags her through her ignorance and into a world of words and knowledge. Debraj gives Michelle a dream and a goal. Impossible is a word he never taught Michelle. She beats all odds and overcomes the impossible. I recommend this movie to anyone who is sick of Hollywood and yearns for an original story, amazing acting, and most importantly a movie that will change how you view the world. A story that takes you reeling through presumptions about God and religion but leaves you believing that God is here with us on Earth, he is helping us each day, and he brings the light into our lives.
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6/10
Fake. Pretentious. Designed for awards.
Anand10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I fail to see any mastery in the narrative of the most celebrated film of this year. Black. (loosely inspired from the 1962 film "The Miracle Worker" based on Helen Keller's life.) Debraj (Bacchan), the stereotypically cranky genius teacher of Michelle (Mukherjee), a girl born deaf and blind, was supposed to enter a magician - I would have loved to see a Robin Williams there - of Dead Poets' Society, of Patch Adams, of Goodwill Hunting, of the Hook or for that matter a Johny Depp of Finding Neverland or Philippe Noiret of Cinema Paradiso - a magician, a creative genius, a compassionate, enlightened and colourful wizard. What I got instead was a brainless brute for a pedagogically wrong teacher, a monster who incessantly shouts on through the first half of the film at a child he knows can't even hear. The scenes with most potential are the ones treated with most preempted melodrama and least substance. The sequence where Debraj finally gets to training his student for twenty days, for example. Here, director Bhansali, largely considered a master of mis-en-scene, succumbs to hiding the lack of research and screenplay material behind a touch and go montage, squeezing the whole story of Michelle's training (loosely based on Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach communication to the blind and deaf Helen Keller), which is later going to develop into the second plot point of the film. Michelle's world remains relatively unexplored throughout the film, but for melodramatic purposes. There are infinite references to the title in the dialogue, but we never understand how is Black different to green or scarlet or turquoise to a completely deaf and blind girl when she is not even aware of the existence of other colours to make a comparative statement like that. There wasn't a single reference to her training in colour references or rhythm recognition, again something that gets hidden under Ravi Chandran's immaculate chiaroscuro. Each frame of Chandran's could be printed as a work of art, but his cinematography was largely incoherent with the narrative. I'd flatter it to say that for me, it reached Conrad Hall levels, but failed to show me either Michelle's or Debraj's world, and stayed confused between the two, like the narrative, itself. Art director Omung Kumar successfully creates an Eastern Europe in North India, but leads Chandran in incoherency with the story. Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' has been used on the walls of a sign linguist's house, where one expects to see a dictionary of homespun signs and words inscribed on the walls. McNally's Anglo-Indian house looks like a museum, where Shernaz Patel gives a tiresome performance as a postcard. The Hindi dialogue of the film belongs to a story like Devdas and the English dialogue belongs in a Class 5 Balbharati textbook. The semi-final blow comes when director Bhansali rips off a scene from his own film Khamoshee. The emotionally pulsating climax of Khamoshee where Nana's character gives a thank you speech in sign language becomes a tearjerker pre-climax in Black, with Rani swapping places with Nana, and Shernaz with Manisha. The climax again is brilliant, you are just about to say, "good, at least caught one out of the many juggled balls", when comes the final blow - the dénouement. A yet another mumbled painting. Now some great scenes quickly - the first hospital scene where Bacchan is walking in one direction and Rani in the other; the "enlightenment" scene where Bacchan throws Rani in water; the party scene where Rani lip reads the singer, the campus bench scene where Rani teases Bacchan about the snowfall she predicted, not giving him the umbrella; the kiss scene; the only melodramatic scene in this list - the climax, "water". First Swades, then Black. Indeed, it is a great phase for Indian Cinema - the phase of transition.
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1/10
And this is supposed to be Bhansali's masterpiece?!
Aam Aadmi18 January 2006
This review cannot contain a spoiler as there is not much in the movie to "spoil" for you. It could spoil your mood however.

For starters, this is a remake of a 1960s film based on Helen Keller's life. Bhansali and his team decided not to acknowledge that fact (there is no mention anywhere in the credits).

Amitabh Bachchan had said that this was to be an important film, he was thrilled that Bhansali had chosen him for the tutor's role. Did he not realize (or was he not told) that it was Annie Sullivan in the original role in Miracle Worker? Wow, its amazing that Bhansali took Bachhan for a ride , of all people. In the process, he has also insulted Indian and non-Indian movie-going audiences by shamelessly copying, and not even acknowledging that it was inspired by another film on the same subject.

The film treats the subject matter really insensitively and manages to make a mockery of the DP and editor's work, as well as lay to waste the fine acting skills of AB and Rani Mukherjee. Instead of trying to make the ultimate cinematographic masterpiece (it is far from that), if they had just focused on how to craft a good story, at least modify original version to where it became enjoyable, esp. as an Indian remake.

The makers of such films seem to be smug and arrogant in their beliefs that simply throwing gobs of money results in good work. When will they learn anything? By now, it should be as clear as Black and White?
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1/10
Why?
deeppak5 December 2005
At first, when I saw Black, I was really impressed with the movie and the way Sanjay Leela Bhansali made it. The slick camera movements, the camera angles, the snow... everything was impressive. A few months later, I happened to see the same movie at the American International School in Lesotho except that this was not made by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and it was an animated movie. At first I thought the smart boys in Hollywood remade Bhansali's film. Only later did I realize (when I got hold of the DVD cover) that it was made much before Black even started production.

Why did Bhansali make this movie? Its a frame by frame COPY of Helen Keller's story (often shown in International primary schools to growing kids). Sanjay Leela Bhansali or anyone associated with the script of Black should feel ashamed claiming credit for Black's script. They haven't even thanked the original screen writers of the original movie in the opening/closing credits of Black.
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7/10
Bhansali overreaches and comes up short...again
atariq18 April 2005
While some may applaud his effort to foray into semi-serious film-making, especially moving away from the formulaic song and dance numbers, Bhansali comes up short on delivering the story in the best way possible. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful, and the symbolism, though a bit heavy-handed, is again appreciated. Bhansali manages to do a good job with his actors, but does not deliver the home run he was looking for. Reining in Rani and Amitabh would have made their performances all the more stoic, instead, giving them wild hyperactive motions, and overplaying their histrionics makes a theatergoer wonder what could have been. Black is a solid effort, but by no means the wonder and crossover of Bollywood into something more serious. Bhansali recognizes his great talents as a filmmaker, but as in Devdas, clearly plays for the awards, and makes the film a tribute to his own skill. Devdas was extravagant simply for the sake of extravagance, and while a visual treat, did not really portray the progression of the characters into the abyss, it just showed them at their best and worst points. Black does almost the same thing when it shows extraordinary moments of recognition, but it focuses much more on the dramatic, and not the subtle changes in the characters. This movie is clearly made for awards, and Bhansali does show flashes of brilliance. However, on the whole, his unwillingness to pull back from constantly hitting us with moment after moment instead of letting things build really takes away from the movie, if he truly was looking to make something different. By addressing handicaps, and Alzheimer's, and remaking a truly great film, Bhansali is playing to awards, and when a film tries too hard, as Devdas did, it inevitably falls short. The film as spectacle is great; great cinema, it is not.
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5/10
Frame to Frame Copy
krisbhati17 March 2005
You know..earlier i used to be a big fan of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, after HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM and DEVDAS. But know i think he is a fluke director who has a visual sense. Trying to make every frame look beautiful. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam had major flaws,like trying to make Hungry into Italy.Devdas was a remake.Black is in parts frame to frame copied from MIRACLE WORKER, i didn't expect at least that of Mr. Bhansali.The Alzheimer part was a bit of IRIS. His next BAJIRAO MASTANI is again an old story. Working with material which exists seems to be his formula. Where are the original ideas?Now they have started mixing old films into a cocktail, like KISNA or BLACK. Even if Karan Johar makes sugar candy sweet kind of cinema, where the nearest possibility is diabetes...he is at least trying to be original. Bhansali started well with KHAMOSHI...but well. You do everything to maintain the respect you think you have earned by fooling the audience.i guess he is laughing how stupid the people are, who praise BLACK into 7th heaven.
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1/10
Overrated
Smash Hits12 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Not surprisingly, many people feel this movie has been over-rated. And its true.

The story of a blind girl, a social outcast changed by a great teacher should have been a much more beautiful story with great talents to act the parts. Anyone could have done better than Bacchan. He totally overacted in this one. And why not? No director seems to have control over him, for many would blindly go and buy tickets if they see his name in a film. hence the director seems to have left him on his own.

And what about the kid? She has a lot of potential, but directorji has misused her to look like a crazy kid instead of a blind girl. .

the only sensible thing in this movie is Mukherjee. She has played her part to the fullest. but she cannot stop me from saying THIS MOVIE ABSOLUTELY SUCKS!!! watch only if u are forced to!
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2/10
Black - An extremely overrated movie.
basefellow26 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After watching Black, I wished I were blind and deaf so that I would never have had to endure this movie or its fantastic reviews.

When I watch a film like Black, I can say that the director is definitely talented. He manages to make a film without any songs, with most dialogues in English and an unusual story-line and get away with both rave reviews and house-full theatres. Or maybe, it has got away with rave reviews and house-full theatres because it has no songs, has many English dialogues and an unusual story line. Maybe people are so tired of the usual good film that an unusual bad film seems extraordinarily good.

Despite all its unusuality, Black is filled with clichés and highly predictable "sentimental" dialogues. The only thing moving in this film was me, shifting in my seat, trying not to run from the theatre. Rani Mukherjee, who plays Michelle, a girl blind and deaf from birth, and Amitabh Bachchan, who plays her teacher have been said to have delivered fantastic performances, yet I found it to be their worst performances that I know of. Rani Mukherjee has her head cocked to one side through the whole film, yet it is only the blind who do that, to catch sound, which is out of the question with Michelle. It seems critics and audiences see overacting as brilliant acting; in some scenes there is so much overacting, the movie seems bizarre and unreal.

What is most unreal is the script and the dialogues. Michelle joins a university where the teachers are not trained to deal with a student like her, and because of this, Michelle graduates only ten years after she joins. Why? Simply because her typing speed on a Braille typewriter is too slow for her to finish her examination within the time limit. Surely a college that has managed to handle a blind and deaf student can find a different way to test her. The script does not even deal with the problem in the end. They take the easy way out: after having failed several times, Michelle, in a fit of rage, suddenly manages to type at a furious speed after ten years of not being able to do so. The location and time-setting of the movie are very unclear. The whole movie takes place in an English-Hindi speaking town when Charlie Chaplin movies are releasing. They seem to be completely cut off from the rest of the world.

Then there's the case of Michelle's sister. She is a normal person, who gets an abnormal lack of attention from her parents because of Michelle's constant needs. When she gets frustrated with her parents and Michelle for the same reason, she is portrayed as a sister who isn't understanding, who is completely to blame, who is a character made to take the audience's fury. One should really sympathise with her, someone who from childhood gets a highly inadequate amount of her parents' attention.

After all the other fantastic reviews that this movie got, mine must seem like blasphemy. Well, everyone's entitled to their opinions, and I'm expressing mine. What really bothers me is not how bad Black is, but the fact that the Indian audience considers something of such mediocrity to be fantastic. And that's my opinion on everyone else's opinion.
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10/10
'...lovely, dark and deep'
Abhishek Bandekar4 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
'…lovely, dark and deep'

Black Dir- Sanjay Leela Bhansali Cast- Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Ayesha Kapur, Nandana Sen, Dhritiman Chaterji and Shernaz Patel. Written by- Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bhavani Iyer and Prakash Kapadia. Rating- *****

As the credits began to roll at the end of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's therapeutic parable 'Black', I remained seated for a few seconds- stunned, mesmerized and completely enamoured. I had witnessed magic- that rare phenomenon in cinema which makes you speechless with awe! 'Black' is unarguably the best film in years to have come out of our industry.

Based loosely on the life of Helen Keller- that deafblind woman who defied the whole world and probably God himself- 'Black' is about Michelle McNally(Rani Mukherjee), who cannot see, hear or speak. The movie begins with her quest to find Debraj Sahai(Amitabh Bachchan), that person who had led her into the light when all that her destiny promised was an emptiness without sights, sounds or speech. She finds Debraj, old and worn out, in an asylum- suffering from Alzheimer. Debraj has forgotten everything. Through Michelle's determination to remind Debraj of his achievement with her, we are taken inside the story of how Debraj helped Michelle. Debraj had entered young Michelle's(Ayesha Kapur) life as the last straw of hope for her mother, Catherine Mcnally(Shernaz Patel).

There is a thin line between mental retardation and the frustrated rage of a child that has been denied three out of the five senses. What Michelle's father(Dhritiman Chaterji) perceives as nuisance, Debraj sees as a desperate attempt to fight- fight her destiny. Watch as young Michelle punches her fist in the air, trying to break out of the void and reach out to something. Debraj uses Michelle's anger and channels it to free her out of darkness's bondage. He teaches her to finger-spell, but she only seems to imitate without really understanding what the words mean. Then, in a brilliantly shot scene, Debraj drags(yes, he drags her) Michelle to a water-fountain and, like with Helen Keller, throws her in it for her impudence. As Michelle feels the touch of water, she is filled with a desire to know what it is. Her first tacit word is water, and she goes on a frenzied zest to learn new words as she feels everything. Debraj guides Michelle through her life from a girl to a woman who aspires to be a graduate. But concomitant to her progress is the deterioration of Debraj. A man that has always thumbed his nose to life itself, is harshly being swallowed by life. A man that helped Michelle reach out of the darkness is slowly walking into it himself.

"It is not about sight, but darkness", says Debraj during a conversation with Catherine. Cinematographer Ravi Chandran achieves this sentiment splendidly throughout the movie in a work that would've done the late great Conrad L. Hall proud! Note also how Omung Kumar uses the contrast of black and white when Michelle meets Debraj in the asylum. It is amazing how the movie resembles a magnificent canvas, with primarily the use of only two colours- black and white! Bhansali's direction is top-notch. Watch closely as he drops a hint on the period of the film. I'll give you a clue- it's got to do with Charlie Chaplin! Moreover, never before has Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' been put to better use. As we are introduced to a weary and tired Debraj, watch how Frost's most quoted lines reflect on all the walls around him. In fact, every frame of the movie is symbolic. Mr. Bhansali, take a bow! Special mention needs to be made of Bhavani Iyer's imaginative English dialogues in her debut feature.

Rani Mukherjee performs exceedingly well in a role that is both challenging and has the utmost potential to overact. But she restrains herself from going over the top. However, it is the little Ayesha Kapur as young Michelle that completely steals the thunder from Rani. Hers is a performance that resembles very much to Shamili's in Mani Ratnam's 'Anjali', but yet different. As I stated earlier, there is a thin line between retardation and frustrated anger. Ayesha manages to stay on the saner side of that line. Finally though, this movie is unimaginable without Amitabh Bachchan. In what is his career's best work, Bachchan gives a powerhouse performance that reminds you of Al Pacino. Whether it is his humming an unfamiliar tune or his mouthing Frost, his eccentric wit or his calm concentration, and his sudden anger or his contented smile- Mr. Bachchan goes through the whole range of emotions with effortlessness. His eyes speak a thousand words, and you can see the pain, the sorrow, the defeat and the victory in them even before he speaks- especially as he begins to lose grip over his memory.

'Black' is a well-made, well-intentioned film. When I had entered the cinema-hall, the lights had already gone and I had to ask the usher to help me in the darkness. But two hours later, Bhansali had guided me into the light!

  • Abhishek Bandekar


Rating- *****

* Poor ** Average *** Good **** Very Good ***** Excellent

4th February, 2005
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1/10
Pathetic
shi12025 May 2006
I'm awestruck by the people who wanted this movie to win the Oscar for the best movie, where do these people live??? One this movie is lifted from the Oscar nominated "The Miracle Worker" which also won the best actress that year. Well you could say that remakes also get an Oscar, nut it needs some originality. Amithab's acting is at its pathetic worst. It would have been a great theater production but for the screen it just didn't do it. Where is the fairyland where all this is happening, there is not a single things that seems to be related to India it seems more to be set in Britain with the British speaking good Hindi. In all it was melodrama at its worst.
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6/10
By no means a masterpiece (spoilers)
js-gill15 February 2006
Warning: The following is my opinion and solely my opinion. It may differ from any person living or dead. So please, don't hate but feel free to discuss as it is through discussion we educate each other.

Black - Why I liked it? For me Black scores in three technical departments - sound, background score, cinematography. The technical feel of the movie is spellbinding. In fact it would not b wrong to state that without these three elements, the movie would fail miserably.

Another area where it scores is the acting front. Rani Mukherji gives the performance of a lifetime and has proves that she is much more than just candy floss cinema material. Equally mesmerising is the young Ayesha Kapoor. Such promise at an early age is really shocking.

Amitabh Bachan's performance is difficult to judge. Whether he tends to go overboard in some scenes or whether he infuses life in them is the dilemma I have not yet overcome. Nevertheless it is definitely a moving and powerful performance but I'm not sure it was a consistent performance.

Black - why I didn't like it.

Story - it was the first of its kind to be witnessed on the Indian screen (I think), but it was based on the life of Hellen Keller. No where was this mentioned in the credits of the movie.

Screenplay - I thought the first half of the movie was easily and by far the better of the two. The second half for me was a disappointment. I later learnt that the first half was virtually a scene to scene repeat of the Hollywood Oscar winner, The Miracle Worker. Oh crap.

Mr Bhansali, although I am a great admirer of your work, you have to start producing original scripts. The execution of Black in the first half was mesmerising but only due to a copied screenplay.

In short, Black left a lot to be desired. A copied script was the first crime. Lacklustre direction in the second half, was the second crime, not mentioning the inspiration for the film was the biggest crime.
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3/10
Melodrama to the Max!
venkatthevirtuoso17 October 2005
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a long way to go if he is to graduate to any serious recognition on the world wide scale. Black is a ludicrous and lukewarm attempt to execute a story. Subtlety and reality are not strong suits of the lavish Bhansali (Devdas) and he displays this fact with omnipotent force as he goes from one overacted, wasted scene to the next.

Setting the film in an Anglo-Saxon, Postmodern India is perhaps the worst single directorial decision Bhansali made. In doing this he distanced himself from the real India and we, the audience, believe this story is happening in some fairy tale land. There's nothing wrong with that in general, but when the director takes himself and his story this seriously, it is a jarring misconception.

The film has seen much praise due to its performances, yet none of these are layered, controlled or otherwise affecting. Hamming it to the maximum possible, Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee craft characters which are overly dramatized and rather unbelievable. There is no saving grace in this film from any of the performances and the rather preachy ending further emphasizes that this is a work of a man who only knows too well the loves of the mainstream Hindi audience.

Why wasn't there a mother crying in the background in the obligatory song? Oh wait, there was!
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2/10
No miracle director
Diand22 August 2005
India is a remarkable movie country: As they have the highest output on the planet, Bollywood movies also have consistently low cinematic qualities, certainly when compared to other Asian nations nearby where the reverse seems to be true. As most Bollywood actors and directors do way too many movies, it gives them ample time to prepare decently. Despite strong criticism from serious Indian filmmakers having difficulty (like their American counterparts) to get funding for more important movies, Bollywood changes little over the years (money is made so why change). In this context Black is an interesting one, because it breaks several Bollywood rules: no songs between drama and aiming for intelligent storytelling, good acting and good direction. The story is about a teacher for deaf blind children raising her from a retard to the level of a BA at university.

Let's start with the pluses. As the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali starts with music first, this movie is very music-driven and tries to establish a rhythm to walk through the story. It has at least a structure as it begins with some scenes from the end (unfortunately giving away some of the ending): A funeral, an asylum where Sahai is confined. Later on, the movie handles with some emotion the lack of a love life of Michelle, as she even falls in love with her own teacher. Michelle and Sahai change roles in the movie, thereby telling something about the sacrifices made and knowledge and wisdom passed on from generation to generation.

But the compelling story is often told in an awkward manner: Debraj Sahai the teacher has for instance unusual methods, but they are not brought to the screen very insightful or with much imagination. He shouts, screams, is patient, but that doesn't explain the success he has. By the way, on several instances in the movie, it was forgotten by the makers that Michelle can neither hear nor see. Michelle's sister comes with a confession about her behavior towards Michelle on the announcement of her own engagement, a rather strange moment to do so. Too many story lines are drawn out to uninteresting lengths, for example the graduation speech is way too long, combined with laughable images of Sahai walking like a lunatic in an asylum, not very likely for a person with Alzheimer's (he is also chained in the asylum where I would prefer to send no people with psychiatric problems). All in all this director has no clue about editing and taking the core out of a storyline, therefore all emotions present in the basic story are not enhanced by this movie but severely diminished. Meanwhile torturing the audience once again with a long and uninteresting piece of dialog told in the wrong pace. The story a copy of The Miracle Worker; that movie or Children of a Lesser God (about a deaf child) are both superior movies compared to this one. Here I felt sorry for the actors having to work with this kind of material. And please do your homework next time by researching a subject thoroughly.
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