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Black - a let down
Feb 11, 2005 12:32 AM 4505 Views
(Updated Mar 12, 2005 12:31 PM)





What would it be like to live in blackness? Never hear a sound, never see a glimmer, never know that anything exists beyond an achingly empty black corridor. Can you even imagine that for a fleeting moment? Is it not absurdly difficult? And yet Mr. Bhansali chose not only to try and make us imagine, but try and show us. Brave effort, good try, but really all that? Sadly my answer is no.

This is a very difficult and very serious subject. Bhansali required great courage and great tact to carry this off. The film demanded that it should be treated with great sensitivity and handled with extra care. Bhansali has not managed to give it all that it demanded. I am not saying that it is a bad movie, it is much better than many around it. But really, must we hail every movie that is slightly more sensible than the rest as a ‘great’ movie? Must good intentioned mediocrity be hailed as excellence just because surrounding it are only train wrecks? I believe this movie has its merits, but it fails to be ‘great’.

There were so many reviews of this movie that hailed it as the best Hindi movie made and it to consist of sheer excellence, that I was afraid of being disappointed. I have never been a big fan of SLB, not after Devdas and HDDCS anyway. But I tried, I tried my best to love the movie, but too many things rankled. Let me go through them properly.

The actors are the highlight of the movie. There are two highly exceptional performances in this movie. Those of Ayesha Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee. These two actresses excel playing the same role. Ayesha steals the first half completely and Rani is excellent in the second. Rani has played this role as well as a healthy woman actually can. Hats off to her on this one. Ayesha is a find and someone to be nurtured; I hope she makes it in better and better movies. Shernaz Patel as Michelle’s mom is also a brilliantly played role. She is very good. Amitabh Bacchan is an enigma in this movie, there are some scenes when he is heart wrenchingly good and some scenes when he makes you wince and squirm in your seat. This is perhaps one of his best roles, but I do not think it is his best performance. The others are as good as their characters allow them to be (Bhansali has created caricatures out of many of them).

The story is exceptionally good and obviously shows that the movie had loads of potential. The execution of the story leaves a lot to be desired. Where is this happening? Who are these people? What year is it? Why is everyone behaving British? These questions are not as trivial as they seem. Leaving all this unanswered, Bhansali alienates the audience at the start, giving a surreal feel to the proceedings and not allowing any roots to the story. I was left frustrated at so many threads of the story just left hanging. Another big problem I had was the sets. They seemed too unreal. The grandeur and the stylish cinematography just distracted from the story and took away any sense of realism I might have had.

The background score is too intrusive and melodramatic. The dialogues are too heavy for real life usage. Too much emotion and too much melodrama have been incorporated along with too much style. A good sensitive movie can tug at your heartstrings without having all the tears and all the speeches. Underplaying of emotions and subtle dialogue is grossly underestimated by today’s filmmakers.

This movie has its moments and has some brilliant scenes. The scenes where Rani and Amitabh interact while she is in college, Ayesha’s first scenes with AB, the scene when AB drags Rani to college because they are late, these are just beautiful. If nothing else Bhansali has at least achieved getting these beautiful moments on celluloid. The kiss that Rani and AB share is a very sensibly treated, very natural scene. After all puberty is a rollercoaster ride even for people without disabilities, he couldn’t ignore Michelle’s puberty.

All in all, this is worth a one time watch. The review is my honest opinion. Comments and rating awaited, I may be given a few brickbats for this one, but that’s ok

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Black - Bollywood