I happened to come across the Bollywood movie ‘Black’ (Sanjay Leela Bensali) last Thursday on MBC (a rare feat) and watched it as I had heard it was different and worth the watching.
It was indeed different… but not enough to my mind. Let me explain.
The film tells the story of a man (Amitabh Bachchan) who takes over the education+taming of a wild mute+deaf girl and turns her into a loveable, intelligent young lady (Rani Mukherjee).
There are virtually no song-and-dance sequences, no evil vs. good confrontations, no fights, no comical scenes, all cornerstones of classical Bollywood products. There are also no sexy images of women’s bodies, no erotic dances, the latest fad in Bollywood.
The film-maker has clearly tried to make an intelligent film with a serious theme. Yet, he falls easily into the trap of melodrama (e.g. Mukherjee’s speech at graduation, her sister’s speech on her engagement, Bachchan reading Mukherjee’s speech, etc.). The references to Chaplin (we see a poster of the Gold Rush in one of the scenes & Mukherjee walks like Chaplin), the play on colour (black and sombre until the white conclusion) are not new enough… The kiss between teacher and learner is barely ‘osé’.
The trajectory is also very classical with a positive outcome (girl finally becomes graduate and brings lucidity and pride to the senile teacher).
In a nutshell, a film I could have saved myself from watching…