Blind Man’s B(l)uff


Went and saw Black at last, at SAC [where else will an nitkian go these days..?] after hearing the rave reviews from everyone ranging from my roommate to my nosy next door neighbors. Maybe it was my high expectations or maybe just that I am plain insensitive, but hey, I find it is not such a great movie as it was hyped out to be.
First you have Michelle McNally [played by youknowwhobynow with huge dark glasses, for the audience to know she is differently abled] who is writing, sorry, typing away her life’s stories on a Braille typewriter, and says that all she wants to do is to find her Teacher. And well, good people always get their prayers answered, and so we find Teacher [no reference to the da Vinci code] outside her house.Teacher is afflicted with Alzheimers and has lost most memory, and now it is upto Michelle to Remind him, or re-Teach him. A long series of flashbacks, with drier-than-Sahara humored dialogues[were they funny, or is it just the tendency of the audience to laugh when li’l gals no bigger than your thumb splat food on a six-footer star?] follow. Essentially, Michelle learns her first word [whaa-..-ter, a la Helen Keller], and table manners and a host of other things from [who else but] Teacher.
Then she sets her sights higher, and goes to University [looks like a cross between an Ivy League one and a local missionary one] to get a degree [so what if it is just a BA, the Indian obsession for degrees never spares no one.] and fails. Due to lack of speed, but not of dedication. Persistence follows, and she gets her degree, but she ain’t happy, coz Teacher’s not there to see her in Black robes,and so doesn’t wear them to the valedictory ceremony. Next thing you know, she’s giving an impassioned speech about, well, Teacher. [even dumb people (I dunno the politically correct term) looove to deliver long speeches! Man,what is this world coming to..]
Cut back to the present. Michelle meets Teacher and there is a Reversal of Roles, and Student Teaches the Teacher the same way, the same words he taught her [Whaaa…-..ter yet again] . Audience sobs, end of film.
Black was an eye opener. For instance, I didn’t know that Alzheimer’s makes your skin sag and change tone that it looks like someone splatted caramel icing all over your face.
Or that asylums are perfectly white.
Wonder what the set designer and Amitabh Bacchan’s make up man were doing? Maybe trying unsuccessfully to wake the dialogue writer who, I feel, slept through the whole thing. Yes, I agree that we have come a long way from ‘kitne aadmi the?’ or ‘mere paas maa hai’ , but the dialogues lack passion, and the humor conspicuous by its absence.
And that makes me wonder what the audience was laughing at. But thankfully, there was no parallel comedy track [maybe we’d’ve had Johnny Lever who would have been studying the same course for a period of ten [we love exaggeration don’t we] years and helps Michelle at college..]
Black is a simple slice-of-life story, with no exaggerations whatsoever, with good acting by all the characters, nice costumes and lovely locales. But it still pinches that Amitabh is still Amitabh and not really Teacher as we would like to believe. But Rani as Michelle is very convincing, big black glasses, no-makeup and all. And Nandana Sen… One wonders why she isn’t pushing Lara Dutta or Ash off the charts. Her good looks deserve far more attention than she’s getting.
But one thing that puzzles me is what the director was trying to say. Does he choose to say that Teacher’s persistence paid off so much that his student is so adept as to teach the Teacher, or is he just presenting one girl’s struggle against her disability? Is it just a story about bonding? Or is it, as i said before, just a slice of an extraordinary life, and that’s why it was totally no-frills? Black didn’t move me to tears or renew the spark in my life. Now I feel it wasn’t meant to.
Ahh, finally I can say that Indian cinema has come of age: at least the director didn’t put in things just to garner audience. He’s just telling his tale, with no shades at all, and it is left to us to interpret or misinterpret it. In other words, it makes us THINK, which, till now, movies weren’t meant for. All in all, a DIFFERENT movie, and the director Knew it would work precisely for that reason. And it did . Only have to hope it wont spark off a series of spinoffs . I don’t want to have to watch a Mozart-inspired tale of a deaf girl winning the Grammies. And that’s given me an idea…..Watch this space for the script. Ideas invited.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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