BLACK – an amazing experience!

Posted: February 6, 2005 in Uncategorized

BLACK, the film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is a masterpiece. It is made with a tremendous heart, with a lot of courage, sincerity, dedication, detailing and of course, huge passion.

Black has all the makings of an Oscar winner, not just in the foreign film category, but in the mainstream category as well.

And yet, I am afraid that Black may not be a blockbuster on the Indian box office!

Don’t get me wrong – it will do decent business, but it may not make as much money as say, Dhoom did! So you get the idea.. at the box office, we are unlikely to see Black become another Sholay or Gadar or Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…!

I would be too pleased if I am proven wrong in my above mentioned assumption. If indeed, Black becomes a big hit, it will mean that the Indian mass audience has matured tremendously, and is appreciating good cinema. Black will certainly succeed in the multiplexes, and in metros. That is a taken. Whether it can impact the interiors to that extent, I am not sure. And why do I doubt it?

The subject and the story line is very intense. It demands your total concentration through the movie. There are no light moments when you can relax, or when some people can go out for a smoke, for example. The colours are not bright – well, they are black! There is no song and dance, and not much comedy either. Forget fights or villains, or item songs! There is substance, and more substance. There are amazing performances, not just by Amitabh and Rani Mukherjee, but also by the child actress. There is a lot of English dialogue and no sub-titles. All these reasons make me wonder about its commercial potential, in India. Sure, the NRIs will love it. They will be proud of the cinema, they may even take their foreign friends to show them what India can do, in cinema!

Well, so much for my doubts about the commercial success for Black.

As regards performances and films, I am sorry for all other film makers and artists whose films are going to be released in the rest of the 11 months of 2005. At least as far as Indian awards are concerned, the following category awards are as good as gone, and I say this, when there are 11 months to go in the year, and when I do not even have an idea of what kind of films are going to come in the rest of the year:

Best Director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Best Actor Male – Amitabh Bacchan

Best Actor Female – Rani Mukherjee

either Best Debutante or Best Child Actor – Ayesha

Best Cinematography – Ravi Chandran (I believe)

Perhaps, best Editing may also go to Bela Bhansali (SLB’s sister), although a great movie in the year, may yet pip her for the award!

Even without knowing what kind of cinema is yet to come in 2005, and with all due respect for Aamir Khan and his ‘The Rising’, I cannot believe that Indian Cinema can produce in the space of 11 months, a film better than Black. If it did, then 2005 will be the golden year of Indian cinema!

So the rest of the film makers and artists may as well accept that they are competing for second position in the films that they are releasing in the rest of 2005!

SOme of the highlights of the movie:

– The story completely draws you in, and from the early part of the movie, you are totally engrossed and absorbed into the story and the characters

– The editing is very good. When you are done and out of the cinema, you look back and realise that there is scarcely a scene that was unnecessary or overdone. That clearly indicates very crisp and confident editing

– The photography is also wonderful. A lot of it is in shades of black. So the cinematographer has not had the luxury of using colour to make the picture look good. It is the different shades and hues of black that he has used and made the picture so compulsively endearing. It leaves you breathless. The scene when Rani’s mother comes to see Amitabh to ask him to leave the next day, is when Amitabh’s face is captured totally as a reflection on the glass door. A superb idea. The closeups of the artists and especially of Amitabh earlier in the movie, and later as he grows really old, are also great. The creases and the wrinkles on his face are very well shown.

– The perforamce of the child star is something unbelievable. She has acted so well, in a very difficult role. I would rank this performance as better than Mcaulay Caulkin’s in the original Home Alone. That boy went on to make his millions on the strength of that one performace. Here the young girl has acted better, but besides applause and some awards, will she get any other commercial benefits? I doubt it!

– There are several extremely good scenes and screenplay and which will surely bring some tears to your eyes. The scene on the dining table when Rani’s sister it to be engaged, and the ‘speech’ of Rani read out by AB at that time, is one such scene. The time when AB pushes the girl into the water fountain, and at which time, she learns to recognise words is also a very engaging scene. When Rani graduates and talks to the rest of the students, at the convocation ceremony, that is one more fabulous scene. Then there are many others too..

– Of course, AB and Rani are superb. They have worked extremely hard on this film, as is clearly visible.

Of course, it is a director’s film. SLB made Khamoshi earlier and which was about the deaf and the dumb. He seems to have a clear soft corner in his heart, for this section of story types. But now SLB is different. He does not ‘hesitate’ like he did in those early days. He has gone full strength ahead with this theme.

Cheers.. to Black.. !

  1. Ashish Gorde says:

    I havent seen “Black” because it hasnt been released in the country wehre I am living in but I liked your review of the film and shall look forward to seeing it when it is released.

    However, I must point out that I am not much of a Hindi film goer because I’ve been disappointed so many times by the quality of performance and story and direction. And going by the reports, it seems like this film wont sufer the same fate as the otehrs.

    But there are have been some movies that I’ve liked and amongst them was “Khamoshi”, which I felt was quite ‘different’ from the regular hindi flicks. And even the ‘songs’ didnt appear incongruous. It’s a pity that it was overlooked.

    On the strength of that one movie I saw Bhansali’s other two movies and wasnt satisfied by the efforts. Going by your review, it looks like he has got back his groove.

  2. SPM says:

    1. You will not be disappointed by Black, as it is obvious that you are the type that appreciated good quality cinema.

    2. Yes, Khamoshi was a good film. In the first week when I went to see it, there were like 5 people in the hall. And that shocked me, because it was a good movie.

    3. I am surprised that you say that both the films of SLB thereafter were not good. On sheer entertainment value, and in terms of the extent of detail that has been taken care of, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was a classic. I guess, its not the so-called film for the classes, but its a huge entertainer for the masses. And I love those types, when done well. So, my favourite Hindi movie remains Sholay, and is followed by Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, at number two position. No matter what Black or any other class movie has to deliver. In fact, few thoughts of mine, regarding Sholay, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and other Hindi movies in general, are put in an earlier post of mine, which you can see at:

    4. I do agree that Devdas was NOT a good movie. In fact, my feelings regarding Devdas and Black are as under:
    Devdas and Black are total antithesis.

    Devdas was NOT a good movie.
    It was a movie out of synch with the times, to begin with.
    Today is not the time when people think of such sacrifice in love. Where someone drowns himself in drink and dies, for his love. Those days were (probably) in the 1930s to 1950s, if at all.
    So the theme of Devdas was one where today’s audience would find it hard to relate.
    That was the fundamental problem with the film.
    And what followed thereafter was a hardsell, which was its second problem.

    It still worked at the box office, because of the sheer marketing blitz and the kind of money that was spent on it(the most expensive Hindi film made to date). Add to that the masala elements of song and dance and music and massive sets and beautiful clothes (not to speak of beautiful people, in Madhuri and Ash), and you had a winner, inspite of it not being a good film.

    Cut to Black.
    A great film.
    75% in spoken English, with no subtitles.
    Almost totally in black and shades of grey..kind of drab looking.
    No songs, no dance…
    Very intense…audience needs to be ‘present’ to the movie for its entire duration..
    Not half as heavily marketed, as Devdas was..

    So quite the opposites..

    What amazes me is that the same guy, SLB, is behind both of these extremes!

    – Sanjay

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