Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Black - An emotional odyssey

As I am sitting here trying to pen the whole gamut of emotions I am going through, I close my eyes and try feeling the letters and symbols embossed in every key of the keyboard; I try imagining how the letters appear and align themselves on the screen; I try to unlearn everything that I have seen, heard and hence understood and see if I could just feel it with touch. I wonder how I would feel if I couldn’t speak to anyone about whatever I am going through, holding them all inside - in a dark room called my heart, where all I could see till my vision ends is nothingness. I would never know how it feels, but I was there today, watching it through an open window - a narrow crack - and I now understand how overwhelming it feels. To call Sanjay leela bhansali’s black a movie would be an understatement. Black is a surreal experience.

There have times in the past when bhansali made movies that were grand, beautiful and unashamedly poetic. But beyond all that grandeur and poetry was an emotional hollow, a shallowness that was eerily out of place because the settings were so perfect - like a frame made to adorn a master piece placed over a jaded black and white photograph. The viewer could never relate to what Vanraj in hum dil de chuke sanam or Devdas or paro in his recent movie were going through - they could vaguely guess, out of human intuition that they were going through a lot of pain. But there was clearly a difference between THEM on screen and US viewers. With black, he’s finally given life to a painting and let it talk to us. He's practically opened the door to a heart of someone whose every vent to express herself is shut beyond redemption.

The settings - To call black minimalist would be terribly false. Black is rich, vivid and lush - not just emotionally but aesthetically too. Each frame shows a man who’s dreamt every single pixel of the screen that you see. The story of black is beyond the confines of time. But the props and the settings - including the car, the palatial house of aristocratic Christians, and the streets around Michelle’s college (so reminiscent of the Hollywood classics of the 30s) - have shifted the movie half a century behind. The winter of Shimla, the bleakness of an asylum, the emptiness that usually surrounds Michelle, the majesty of her house have all been captured so beautifully and most importantly, aided by some brilliant background score by Monty, talk to you as if they were characters themselves.

The performances - 10 year-old Ayesha kapur and Rani mukerjee have nothing much in common. Neither the beautiful curls that adorn the little girl’s face, nor the chubby look or completely differently chiseled features. But one thing that they do have in common is sheer brilliance with which they have essayed this role. The little girl is SPLENDID! Right from showing her transition from a near animal to a fine young lady, to the desperation she feels in not being able to express her anguish, anger and pain, she does it all with élan. To say this is Rani’s best performance doesn’t say enough - Relying completely on her eyes and signs to convey what she feels, she’s done a fantastic job. Her happiness is completely unadulterated, her despair total and her exuberance fills the entire screen. Shernaz patel has played the role of the loving mother with great dignity. She fits the role of the Christian wife and mother to the T. Dhritiman Chatterjee and Nandana sen as father and daughter are adequate. As always, one man stands tall (quite literally) amidst such stellar performances. Amitabh Bachchan’s eyes speak volumes in every scene. There’s just a fleeting mention about how he lost a sibling to a mental asylum. That the pain is burning like an ember inside him, runs like undercurrent in every scene he is present and justifies his maniacal attitude towards Michelle’s future - As he says in the movie, she was his last chance.

Scenes to watch out for

  • When Michelle's mom realizes that Michelle can't neither speak nor see
  • When Michelle 'says' her first word
  • When Michelle expresses how she will never know how it's to be loved by a man! (This scene literally blew me! Literally!)
  • The final monologue

A few very minor could-ve-been betters

  • Amitabh's makeup in the beginning (and in the end) seemed a bit overdone
  • His dialogue delivery in the beginning is too fast to be comprehended. It takes one time to get used to it.
  • "Mrs. McNealy" after sometime turned out as much "too much of a good thing" as "Mr.Anderson" in Matrix trilogy.
  • Though I really appreciate how he's stayed focussed in saying his story, I felt the interaction between Rani and Amitabh when the former is trying to help the latter could have been shown more in detail.

I wouldn’t know when a movie makes its way from amidst the good and the also-ran to the citadel of classics. I am not sure whether Black would run for even a month in the theaters or would be nominated for the Oscars. But I do know the feeling of having seen a fantastic movie - having seen a work of art that’s a beautiful painting, a symphony that takes you through an emotionally intense odyssey of smiles and tears leaving your heart numb for a while, when you travel back to the depths of your heart, to in the middle of a heavy silence, a nothingness - a serene emotion that’s painted black.

I felt it today.


Blogger Kumari said...

welcome back...did miss you.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u sleeping? start writing regularly

10:58 PM  
Blogger Kumari said...

As Daddykins' unofficial spokesperson , "His Highness is on vacation" :)

9:17 AM  
Blogger Rathish said...

@Anonymous - Yeah, did sleep for 12 hours tonight. So, you are not way off the mark :) Anyways, did blog a lot - you shall find it here - http://scribbledfeathers.blogspot.com/

@Kumari - Ms.Spokesperson and Dear daughtie, that was quite to the point :) danks! As for last night - "Varthai thaviri vittal kannamma marbu thudikudhadi" ;) I can't find the number for nuts - why don't give me the number tonight so that I can call :)

3:49 PM  
Blogger Tensor said...

I enjoyed the movie too.

How about the scene where Michelle says that she can dream , although she cant see, hear or speak??

6:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home