By Taran Adarsh, March 7, 2008 - 09:07 IST
Subhash Ghai is synonymous with larger than life movies. Movies that cater to the popular tastes. With BLACK & WHITE, Ghai changes lanes. Deviating from the large canvas, extravagant sets and soulful-music-with-lavish-settings, he comes up with a film that's real, that pricks your conscience… a film that's in sharp contrast to his earlier accomplishments.
It truly requires courage to swim against the tide. With BLACK & WHITE, Ghai enters a lane not many master storytellers would dare to venture into.
BLACK & WHITE signifies the coming of age of a seasoned storyteller. Sure, he has made great entertainers that have tremendous recall value, but BLACK & WHITE is a gutsy step. It's realistic, it's thought-provoking, it's topical, but not dark, depressing or preachy.
As a storyteller, Ghai has handled the subject with maturity and a few scenes do leave an indelible impression. But BLACK & WHITE could've done with a shorter length and a tighter screenplay. Yet, all said and done, Ghai deserves marks and praise for this courageous step. Watch it for a different experience!
Rajan Mathur [Anil Kapoor] is a Professor in Urdu literature. He resides in Chandni Chowk with his activist wife Roma [Shifaali Shah].
Professor Mathur comes across Numair [Anurag Sinha], who introduces himself as a victim of communal riots in Gujarat. But, in actuality, he is a suicide bomber commissioned by a Muslim fundamentalist group to detonate a bomb near Red Fort on 15th August.
During his fifteen-day journey, Numair manages to take shelter in the Professor's house and wins the trust and fondness of the couple. While helping Numair to get an entry pass for 15th August celebrations at Red Fort, Professor Mathur introduces him to the warm and loving people of Chandni Chowk.
Amidst all the tension, he is caught in an emotional dilemma whether to go ahead with his mission. Despite his deep-rooted fundamentalist beliefs, he sees this as one of the most colorful and loving areas. Nevertheless, he moves on with his mission. But something is disturbing the mind of this young lad…
The story of BLACK & WHITE [Varun Vardhan] is one of its USPs. BLACK & WHITE tries to peep into the psyche of a human bomb, a fanatic who has a change of heart gradually. The transformation of a heartless, cold-blooded murderer to someone whose inner voice tells him to revolt against his 'masters', the change is well depicted on screen.
But BLACK & WHITE is not without its share of hiccups. The romantic track, for instance, stands out like a sore thumb. It could've been avoided. Also, the reasons that change the fanatic's thinking aren't powerful enough. To be specific, the portions from Shifaali's brutal murder, to her last rites, to Anil and Anurag entering the Red Fort premises, to the cops arresting the terrorists – the sequence of events should've been more dramatic and convincing.
But the last few minutes, when Anurag confronts Milind Gunaji and assaults him brutally, is simply outstanding. One of the finest sequences ever filmed in this genre!
Directorially, Ghai rises beyond the script and has canned a number of sequences well. The portions depicting Afghanistan as also the pre-climax [Anil's emotional breakdown] are exemplary. Sukhwinder Singh's music has a soothing effect. 'Jogi Aaya' and 'Main Chala' are melodious compositions. Somak Mukherjee's camera captures the bylanes of Delhi well. Dialogues are well worded.
BLACK & WHITE belongs to new-find Anurag Sinha. The newcomer carries the cold, murderous look with gusto, living the role with his electrifying presence. Ghai has been instrumental in carving the careers of several names in the past. Now add Anurag to this illustrious list.
Anil Kapoor proves his versatility yet again. In his last outing [WELCOME], he enacted the role of a person who was on the other side of law. In BLACK & WHITE, he's a law-abiding citizen and Anil is memorable in this film too. This performance should occupy a coveted place in his impressive repertoire.
Shifaali Shah is excellent. Although the length of the character isn't substantial enough, the actor stays in your memory thanks to a highly competent performance. Aditi doesn't get much scope. The senior citizen is first-rate. Aroon Bakshi is efficient. Milind Gunaji does a good job.
On the whole, BLACK & WHITE is a fine effort from a master storyteller who dares to change lanes with this film. In that respect, an effort like BLACK & WHITE needs to be lauded. Targeted at the thinking viewer, the makers and distributors have rightly released the film at multiplexes primarily and the multiplex junta should appreciate the effort, at big centres mainly. It will have to have the backing of a strong word of mouth to climb the ladder.
More than anything else, a film like BLACK & WHITE deserves to be tax-exempted, so that it reaches out to a wider audience across the length and breadth of the country.