The cathartic tale of a young woman who can't see, hear or talk and the teacher who brings a ray of light into her dark world.
Based in Simla, the McNallys are an Anglo-Indian family consisting of Paul and his wife, Catherine. Both are full of joy when Catherine gives birth to a baby girl, Michelle, but their joy is short-lived when they are told that Michellle cannot see nor hear. Both attempt to bring up Michelle in their own protective way, as a result Michelle is not exposed to the real world, and becomes increasingly violent and volatile. Things only get worse when Catherine gives birth to Sara, and Paul considers admitting Michelle in an asylum. It is here that Debraj Sahai enters their lives. Through his eager involvement, Michelle blossoms, grows, gives up her violence, even gets admitted in school with normal children. The years pass by, Michelle does not succeed in getting her graduation, and it is time for Debraj to bid adieu as he is having his own health problems. 12 years later, at the age of 40, Michelle does succeed in graduating in Arts, and it is shortly thereafter she will be re-united with her teacher. No longer the same alcoholic, eccentric, - but a bent older male, who cannot even remember speech, leave alone what he taught. Watch what happens when Michelle attempts to re-enter his 'blank' life.
Unethical and eccentric Debraj Sahay is hired by the McNally family to educate Michelle, who is both deaf and mute. The initial experience is a disaster, prompting Michelle's dad to ask Debraj to leave, however, he begs Mrs. McNally to give him another chance, and she does so when her husband is away. Debraj strives to bring some light in Michelle's dark life, and does succeed considerably, and is actually able to impress her dad, so much so that he gets hired to look after her. The years go by, and Michelle and Debraj share a bond between them - not knowing it is this bond that will only serve to severe their relationship in the near future.
Michelle McNally is an unfortunate child: an illness in her infancy has rendered her blind , mute and deaf . She is living in a dark world when Debraj Sahay comes into her life as her teacher and teaches her the meaning of words and how to express them . As she grows up , the challenge of becoming a graduate and living her life with pride arising from a sense of accomplishment looms in front of her . There are many obstacles - like the world which has no patience for disabled persons , and the deteriorating mental condition of her teacher ... but Michelle pursues her goal and narrates her story of victory achieved in spite of all hindrances .
Michelle McNally is "special" in more ways than one. She cannot see - nor hear nor speak - She inhabits a world of infinite black - of a seamless, endless void where nothing reaches her and she reaches nothing. Her world is frightening in its complete remoteness. On the sheer will of her ferocious rage against destiny, Michelle struggles to stay afloat in the impenetrable whirlpool her life has become. into this devastating isolation enters a battle weary teacher, Debraj Sahai, life's wounded but arrogantly insolent warrior. With a single-minded obsessions, Debraj takes up a challenge that is next to impossible - to lead this wild, uncontrollable child into the light of knowledge. Thus beings a journey of two headstrong individuals. They will overcome failures, obstacles, even ridicule as they tread the path less taken. What they seeks is that moment of miracle when the ray of knowledge will penetrate through the dense black of Michelle's life - Black is the cathartic tale of a deaf, mute and blind girl who saw what people with sight fail to see, a vision of her God. Michelle McNally saw what other lesser mortals could not. She saw her God, Heard Him and walked with Him into the light.
Debraj Sahay is a teacher to Michelle McNally who is both deaf & blind, he meets her as an eight year old, who doesn't understand anything. She is violent, confused and unable to comprehend her life. Her world is "BLACK". Debraj leads her from this darkness and confusion into light and hope, how he makes her discover her an identity, this makes her feel human rather than someone inferior with a disability. He is her teacher, her Guru, the one who leads her from darkness into light.
- The film begins with Michelle McNally (Rani Mukerji), a blind and deaf woman, visiting her former teacher Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan), who now has Alzheimer's disease, in a hospital. The film then flashbacks to the past to her childhood.
Michelle was a girl who lost her eyesight and hearing after recovering from an illness at the age of two and exists in a black world where she is isolated in the darkness of her own existence, trapped by her inability to see, hear and express. She grows up becoming more and more frustrated by the black and dark world around her, making her a violent, uncontrollable eight-year-old child. Her parents, Paul and Catherine, are at their wits' end trying to control her, until one day the light shines through the end of the tunnel.
Debraj Sahai enters their lives, an elderly alcoholic teacher for the deaf and blind, Debraj sees himself as a magician and is a disillusioned eccentric man. He takes it upon himself to bring young Michelle into the light. He uses harsh methods, although always for Michelle's long-term benefit. Initially, his methods are met with disapproval by Michelle's father, who asks Debraj to leave. Although her father thinks he is gone, Debraj stays as the teacher while her father is away on business for 20 days. Her mother grudgingly approves of his continuation given her fear of Michelle being sent to an asylum. By the 20th day, Debraj manages to teach Michelle some words and better manners, but he has difficulty teaching her the meaning of words. When Michelle's father returns, Debraj packs his bags. At the very last moment, as he is walking towards the door suitcase in hand, Debraj gets frustrated with Michelle's continuing insolent behaviour and he throws her into a fountain full of water. Michelle suddenly takes to Debraj's lessons at that moment and begins to understand meaning. She is able to recognize her mother and father, and can vocalize the first syllables of some words small enough for her to understand. The McNallys decide to keep Debraj as Michelle's teacher.
Many years later, Michelle has learned a great deal, becoming relaxed and expressive, and she is even able to dance and expertly sign. Debraj convinces the Principal of a university to grant her an interview which she passes and gets admission to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree, the first deaf-blind person to do so at that university. Michelle moves away from home and lives with Debraj and one of her servants. Over the next 2 years, she struggles to gain her Bachelor of Arts degree, failing year after year, but she still maintains her spirit. One reason is that she must rely on Debraj completely for interpretation of the material and studying. This problem is overcome by the Principal of the school preparing the whole first-year Arts course of study in Braille. Another reason for her continuing failure is that her typing skills are lacking and typing is her only way to write down what she knows during exams. However, she also soon overcomes this deficiency through another flash of increased competence when she almost quits the university and gets into an argument with Debraj.
At the same time as Michelle suffers through and triumphs over her challenges, we also witness numerous other changes. Debraj begins to succumb to Alzheimer's, first forgetting the way out of the Principal's office and then forgetting Michelle and leaving her stranded during an ice cream celebration for her improved typing. We also see Michelle reconcile with her sister Sara, who we find out was jealous of her parents' affection for Michelle throughout her life. After attending Sara's wedding, Michelle begins to wonder about love, which she has not experienced, and she even asks Debraj to kiss her on the lips. Debraj reluctantly does so but decides to leave Michelle on her own because of this demand and the position she has put him in. Twelve years after enrolment, Michelle does manage to gain her BA, and with her proud parents looking on her, she even gives a speech to the graduating class. Wearing no black graduation robe, she thanks her parents and her teacher and she announces that she will only wear the robe so that her teacher may see her first.
Debraj is in a mental hospital due to his almost complete inability to remember his past and even how to speak. Michelle visits him wearing her robe and we see glimmers of memory return as Debraj realises that she has graduated and even does a victory dance. As the window opens to the rain outside, we see Debraj's hand in Michelle's reaching into the rain, and we hear the teacher-student pair say the first syllable of the word "water", with echoes of the scene in which Michelle first begins understanding the meaning of words earlier in the movie. However this time, it is Debraj who is beginning to learn to speak and understand.
The movie ends with a scene of Michelle amongst a crowd of people all dressed in black carrying candles walking towards a church. There is a voiceover of a letter Michelle has written to Debraj's friend Mrs Nair explaining that today was her teacher's first day of school, and that like hers, his alphabet began with "B L A C K".