This is a momentous week for Hindi cinema. Not every week do we get a Sanjay Leela Bhansali Film. In 2002 Bhansali’s Devdas created a furore. Will Black be as awesome in its impact?
There’s a strong wind of curiosity blowing across the moviegoers’ minds. Everyone feels that special something which occurs when this particular director unveils and unleashes his new work. First it was Khamoshi: The Musical, then Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas.
In Black Bhansali directs Amitabh Bachchan for the first time. Says exhibitor Roshan Singh of Patna, “Though Black has no songs and it goes into a completely untried territory the audiences’ excitement level is still very high. They’ve seen what Bhansali has done with Nana Patekar in Khamoshi, Salman Khan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas. Now when the director has teamed up with the biggest star of Bollywood audiences are agog as to how he has presented and projected Amitabh Bachchan. People have seen him in scores of films doing hundreds of roles with innumerable directors. They still want to see what Bhansali has done to and with Amitabh Bachchan. Going by the promotional clippings this is a totally different Bachchan and we expect a massive opening.”
Both the director and his leading man feel Black is a genre-creating work. Nothing like it has been made, at least in this country. Says Bhansali, “If people expect to see Devdas in Black they would be sorely disappointed. This is a totally different area of creativity. While in Devdas the songs and dances were the backbone in Black there’s no song at all. And the only dance audiences will see is the dance of the soul as the physically handicapped girl played by Rani Mukherjee conquers all odds to make a success of her life.”
There’s no conventional lead pair in Black. Amitabh Bachchan plays the teacher and Rani Mukherjee is his difficult student. There are no songs and no spaces in the narrative where audiences can sneak out for a breather.
How far is the audience ready to accept Bhansali and Bachchan in this untried and startling avatar?
Most trade experts feel Black will establish a whole new genre in Hindi cinema.
The other notable release this week is debutante director Leena Yadav’s Shabd. Again there’re no easy definitions for what the film does. Again mainstream mega-stars Sanjay Dutt and Aishwarya Rai have been cast in roles that they have never done before. Sanjay Dutt plays a writer who uses his wife to nourish his imagination. Aishwarya Rai indulges in a spot of cradle —snatching by being shown in a liaison with Zayed Khan.
Just how interested the audience is in Pritish Nandy’s latest production is entirely a matter of conjecture. Chances are, Black has far more curiosity value for viewers.
As for the third release Bullet: Ek Dhamaka this week, why do they even bother?