It’s no secret that I rarely watch indian movies. I came to see my parents this evening, and whilst I was here my sisters put on the rather enigmatically titled Black. Normally that’s the point at which I go and find something else to do, but this time they convinced me to stick it out. The film stars Amitabh Bachan, Ayesha Kapur and Rani Mukherjee. What struck me was the raw emotion in this film. It isn’t one of those normal bollywood films, there are no dance sequences, no comic acts, and none of those badly choreographed, laughable, fight scenes.
It’s the story of darkness in the life of a a young woman, Michelle McNelly, who is portrayed as a child in the first half of the film by Ayesha Kapur, and the second half of the film by Rani Mukharjee. Michelle is blind and deaf and unable to speak, her world totally dark. Until she meets her teacher and mentor Debraj Sahai, played by Amitabh Bachan. Sahai has dedicated his entire life to teaching blind and deaf children to communicate. He takes it upon himself to remove the blackness from her life, the entire film is a journey between these two people as Sahai obsessively teaches Michelle how to sign, and how to live a dignified life, unaware that his own life will take an unfortunate turn in which Michelle will play an important part – when he becomes blind himself and finally looses his mind and its left to her to prevent him from harming himself.
It’s an incredibly moving film .. the kind twists your heart all the way through yet leaves you bathed in rapturous contentment as one critic put it. I can’t help but think it captures the same feeling of human triumph over incredible adversity and tragedy that films like The Shawshank Redemption have.
I never thought I’d ever recommend an indian movie to anyone but I do recommend this one. Much of the dialogue is in english, interspersed with hindi, whilst that might be offputting for some the movie is easy to follow and I think the emotions and acting transcend any language barriers. You dont just watch this movie you actually feel it.