Brilliant! That is the word I would like to use to describe the film Black directed by Sanjay Leela Bansali. I hadn’t seen the film yet until its TV premier in Star Gold yesterday. I do regret now that I did not see the film in theatre. Black is definitely a bold attempt from the director, it challenges all the conventions of a contemporary Indian film be it art or commercial. I have seen only one Bollywood film that made watching a film a treat to all my senses, and that is Sholay, but these two films are of extremely different categories. I do not think this as a reason that makes Black special?
The uniqueness of the film lies in the fact that it is difficult to classify the film as commercial or art, based on the conventions we usually use for the purpose. I have always liked the art films by internationally acclaimed directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan. But these films are always made within low budgets, and usually are made for film festival audiences. At times you have to wait for these films to be shown on TV, the producers know that this film will not be appealing to masses and they refrain from spending money in releasing these films in theatres. The net result is that these films are devoid of the modern filming techniques which combined with the mood of the film, makes it dull for watching. But in Black, Bansali has made the settings look like those of a big budget commercial Bollywood film (or even better than that), and created an aura that you would feel watching a classic academy award winning English movie. Also the characters use English as lavishly as Hindi.
The director has made the best out of his actors, all of whom have performed well. The story is about a girl Michelle McNally who is blind, deaf and dumb, and her teacher Debraj Sahai who tries to give her a normal life. The roles are played by Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachan respectively. The little girl Ayesha Kapoor who enacted the childhood of Michelle McNally did a great job. I liked many scenes in the film, the one in which the little Michelle says her first word "water", the one in which the teacher looses his memory due to Alzheimer’s disease while he was at an ice cream shop and the last scene in which he realises that his student has graduated, are some of them.
J. P Sippy has quit film making, so I cannot expect another Sholay. But I am eager to watch next film by Bansali, and am sure it will be on a theatre screen!