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Feeling is believing

Black 9+/10

The Telegraph Online   |   Published 11.02.05, 12:00 AM

Black

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Shernaz Patel, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ayesha Kapoor, Nandana Sen, Chippy Gangjee

9+/10

Can?t you see that it?s quite impossible to tell you how Black is, considering that everyone, including the audience, has said everything already? Can?t you see that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has gone on to make a Hollywood film in the best traditions of international cinema and that?s what?s called ?challenging cinema?? Can?t you see how it has been mounted just like a Hollywood film ? from the background music and no songs to the theme of the film; from the cinematography to the art direction and sets? Can?t you see Bhansali doffing his hat to Charlie Chaplin in Rani?s gait especially in front of Gaiety cinema? Can?t you see that Bhansali has staked his claim directly to the Oscars ? and after Lagaan and Devdas, this is really IT?

Can?t you see that Black is, in fact, a Hollywood film (should it get an entry to the Oscars in the Foreign Film category? Good question) and that what we are seeing here is just the Indian version of true-blue cinema? Can?t you see the startlingly ?adult? performance of the kid Ayesha (even if at times it seems you?re watching The Exorcist or The Omen)? Can?t you see the superlative ?off performance? of Rani Mukherjee telling you, hello brother! Can?t you see Lambuji, 60+, breaking down all deewaars, telling that Hollywood guy, Al Pacino his poora naam, and telling us all, Main aaj bhi pheke hue compliments nahin uthaata? Can?t you see ?and see this one again ? what Sanjeev Kumar once said (acting is an art, reacting is a finer art) in the exhilarating expressiveness of Shernaz Patel? Can?t you see the envy nuance of the ?normal child? in Nandana Sen? Can?t you see the poignant poetry in the kid?s ?first handshake? with her much-hated teacher, or in their feeling the snow or rainwater together, or in the vaulting joy of everyone when the kid utters her first syllables, wa-ter, grass, flower, ma, pa?Teacher?

Can?t you see the fantastic chemistry between Rani and Amitabh especially when he reads out her letter in Braille at the dining table, or in the most tender kissing scene, or when she is gesticulating to an Alzheimer-struck Amitabh or when she talks about what dignity means to her...

Can?t you see what skilful screenplay and energetic editing is all about, holding the little finger of your little hand and leading you on, kindly light?

Can?t you see that a reviewer?s life is not ?an icecream, to be enjoyed before it melts?, especially if the film has to be exorcised from his body before the deadline. But, then, cinema like Black is unlike life or icecream. It just won?t melt.

Hear that?

Anil Grover



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