June 13, 2005

B.L.A.C.K & Bachan, Bibliomanics & Books!

"The first letters I learned were not A.B.C.D.E but B.L.A.C.K..." - the screen turns black - "Imagine the life of someone who had to live in this darkness for forty years..."

The opening lines of BLACK. The title of the movie would probably lead you to believe that it's a thriller, maybe an action movie with gangsters and racy lyrics and a predictable signature - hero-kills-villain-saves-fair-maiden. Far from it, BLACK is a movie that plays on our senses powerfully, emphatically - the sounds, the scenes, the pathos create a compelling impression. Sanjay Leela Bhansali could not have chosen a more complex, a more profound, a more unpredictable motif for a Bollywood movie, especially one featuring names as prominent as Amitabh Bachan and Rani Mukherji.

The setting, the cinematography and the filters, the music (Mychael Danna) beautifully complement the overall theme - stark, almost brutal at times - the travails that a child born deaf and blind would have to face, the devastated parents over-indulging the child, turning a blind eye to the fact that their child is growing up in an almost-inhuman fashion, because their sympathy and pity blur even the most obvious facts and enter The Teacher, a teacher who sees through the eyes of his blind children, a teacher who lives his life, vicariously through his children's darkness.

Subtlety has never been a strong point in Bollywood movies but the scene where the Teacher, Debraj Sahai is introduced, his conversations with Mrs.Nair depict his genius-bordering-madness as no amount of emotional surfeit could have.

Rani Mukherji as Michelle McNally evokes alarm, pity, awe among the viewers. The duck-like gait, the unseeing eyes that yearn to see, the emotions of a young woman, deprived of things often taken for granted, her short bursts of futility mixed anger, disappointment when her Teacher forgets her, her resolve...brilliant!

Some scenes just linger behind...when Michelle calls home to convey yet another failure with barely understandable sounds and gestures, her hands held out to feel the first few snow flakes, the first word she learns - water, the final moments when the roles are reversed, tears of recognition streaming down their cheeks - the lump in my throat and my tear-stained eyes stand testimony to the painful magic of this dark world, one that uprooted my frivolous existence for a while and reminded me of things that cannot be said, only felt - BLACK.


And the biblio-tag continues, tagged by k (a little bird told me he will tag me tonight:)), Prabu Karthik and FieryBlaster: Most of my recently read books and favourite books are already listed on the right hand side of this blog. The predictable list (easier for me to mention authors rather than books) - Erich Segal, Jeffrey Archer, Alistair MacLean, J.K.Rowling, P.G.Wodehouse (Jeeves' series), Michael Crichton, Henry Denker, Douglas Adams, R.K.Narayanan, Isaac Asimov...always ready for The Archie!

New favourites include: Shobha Narayanan and Nigel Watts. Also, enjoyed reading Confessions of a shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella , almost finished the series! And there are some books that impressed me no end when I read them, but that was so long back and I really wish I had the time to read them again - Fountain Head (Ayn Rand), I, Robot (Isaac Asimov), Ice Station Zebra (Alistair MacLean), If tomorrow comes (Sidney Sheldon), One (Richard Bach)...

I tag,

  • Bus - I know you have quite a few interesting novels lined up in your "have recently read" pile!

  • Rathish - I expect to be surprised by the variety that you are going to come up with :)

  • A no nymous (ANM) - I vaguely remember you mentioning horror being your preferred genre, did you get a chance to read The Mango Season?

  • L - I know you like some books that I absolutely don't but expect you to come up with some interesting picks :)

  • VV - Since you won't start a blog, how about starting with a list of books to show us shades of the real you :) ?

You all are it!


kamal said...

BLACK was a very powerful movie, I did not much care about Amitabh getting Alzheimers, but Michelle McNally's character and Debraj Sahai's character were enacted very well. This is a must see movie. I do not think that it would have done well @ the box-office. I might own a DVD of this.

BUS said...

I too agree that Black is definitely a movie worth watching.

and RS your tag has been answered.

bellebin said...

Indeed, BLACK is a powerful movie....with great performances by Amithab 'Bachchan' & Rani Mukherji. But somehow, I don't feel like extending the same level of praise towards SLB. The first half of the movie is, for the most part (or atleast in the most important the dinner scenes and the scene where Michelle understands the meaning of water), a scene to scene remake of the 1962 Hollywood movie, 'The Miracle Worker'. TMW, as many of you may know, is a movie based on Hellen Keller's (a deaf and blind child ... of Helen Keller International fame) and her 'teacher' Anne Sullivan's real life. The sad part is, apart from a small thank you to HKI, there is no acknowledgement in the movie of TMW or Helen Keller herself :(
Although not new to Indian cinema at all, I find this "semi-plagiarization without due credits" rather sad.
All that said, BLACK was a treat to watch....very different from the regular run of the mill Bollywood masala movies :)
Sorry for the long gripy post :)

Kaps said...

To answer Kamal's question, BLACK did quite well in the box office. This movie was produced by a media arm of the Birla's. They knew beforehand that such a movie wouldn't do well in the C centres. Hence they went for "word of mouth" publicity in the A and B centres and surprisingly it worked out quite well.

I really enjoyed watching BLACK and would rate it among the best movies I hv seen till date.

In one of the bonus VCD's G magazine's editor Bhavna interviewed Amitabh, Rani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Prabu Karthik said...

high time i saw black. And regarding the accusation that my book collection is interesting, i need a lawyer to tackle this for sure.
i dont know more than half the authors in the list.

I got 'Love in the time of cholera' by Marquez and i finished a whopping 20 pages.

IBH said...

I liked the for sure changed the boundaries of Indian Cinema for good...BUT i am going with Bellebin...u shuld watch this movie "The Miracle Worker" and most of the scenes of BLACK were lifted from this one...that was a classic and earned the lead Anne Bancroft an oscar for her portrayal of Anne Sullivan...

but the actors in BLACk especially the little one Ayesha, she amazed me with her acting skills...she was brilliant..! a seasoned actor like Amit ji can defly bring to life Debraj Sahai but Ayesha was just amazing!

Rathish said...

I hope I have understood the tagging concept right :) I have updated my list.

RS said...

Now I want to watch the original movie but don't think I can take one more movie like this so soon...

To Bus & Rathish: Thanks! Will form my to-do list from your lists!

dinesh said...


Your write up makes me want to see the movie ! Will def. ly see it when I get a chance.

bellebin said...

Just to let you know, 'The Miracle Worker' is only an hour and a half long and does not go beyond Hellen Keller's childhood (so it is only the first half of BLACK). There is nothing about her growing up and going to college or about her teacher ending up with Alzheimer's. Cheers :)

Shiva said...

RS- BLACK is an awesome effort by Bhansali and your review is short & excellent. Iam a high time Rani Mukherjee fan and watch her movies like crazy.. and this was one of the rarest movie featuring the bubbly girl that moistened my eyes.
Your preferred author list is long and impressive - you seem to be an ardent Crichton fan. Did you read the latest STATE OF FEAR ?

A. Noname Moose said...

I tag, ...

Now I'll have to come up with elaborate lies about the books I read so people dont think I'm a stupid fool.

Seriously though, the last book I read was Frankenstein by Dean Koontz. As far as rest of the tag goes, I'll have to sit down and do some deep thinking.

And, no, I haven't read The Mango Season yet.

RS said...

To Dinesh - Definitely - also be prepared to cry at the end :)

To Bellebin - Tx, will catch it sometime soon.

To Shiva - Thanks! State of fear - started it when I was in probably the first Crichton book that I left incomplete, somehow thought the narration was not as gripping as in all his other novels...

To ANM - :)

Anonymous said...

Total books I own:

Very Less, I am an occasional reader and usually read from libraries.

Last Book I bought:

Scientist and Engineer's guide to Partial Differential Equations


"Every Second Counts" by Lance Armstrong.

Last book I read:

" A Bend in the River ", V.S.Naipaul

Terrific one , A dark portrayal of an African state.
Stunned to see the similarities with the movie "Hotel Rwanda"

Last Book I was Gifted:

Don't Remember, Though i would not mind somebody atleast lending me

"One hundred years of Solitude " by Garcia Marquez or
" Motorcycle Diaries " , Ernesto Guevara

Books that had real impact or one's that I enjoyed:

" Illusions : Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah", Richard Bach.
" Message to the Youth of India " , Swami Vivekananda
" Thunaiezhuthu" , S.Ramakrishnan
" The Fountainhead ", Ayn Rand
" Mahabharatham " Chakkaravarthi Rajagopalachari


RS said...

VV Kalakita, I want to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and a few others books that you have on your list, except of course the "Scientist and Engineer's guide to Partial Differential Equations" :)

Anonymous said...

will just reel out the books i thought had some impact on me...

Love Story - Erich Segal
The catcher in the rye - J.D.Salinger
One flew over the cuckoo's nest - Ken Kesey
To kill a mockingbird - Harper Lee
Disgrace - J.M.Coetzee

Book last read
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

Books reading currently
The kite-runner - Khalid Hosseini
India unbound - Gurcharan Das
What should I do with my life - Po Bronson
The monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma

And people, please read 'Swami and friends' by R.K.Narayan if you haven't already

- L

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