Director: Subhash Ghai
Cast: Anurag Sinha, Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah
Storyline: A terrorist in black checks in to Chandni Chowk on a suicide mission, meets Urdu professor always dressed in white, sees rainbows and undergoes the usual.
Bottomline: Only for the colour-blind.
Yaadein gave us amnesia. It made us forget what Ghai used to be.
Kisna gave us insomnia. Ghai created arguably the worst movie ever made on Hindi screen.
And now, with Black & White, Ghai turns a full-blown terrorist, rabidly threatening to bomb us with bad films year after year.
The film’s flopped, people have been victimised. If this is not suicide-bombing, what is?
First of all all, Mr.Ghai, a terrorist developing a conscience is a beaten-to-death, blown-to-smithereens, bombed to stone-age-kind of a story-idea. It’s been told many times by filmmakers who’ve at least tried to make the narrative innovative.
If you really want us to look beyond black and white and see the different colours in life or film, you need to create characters who show us the hues and by that, we don’t mean you assign that brief to your costume designer.
What we have here are stereotypes: a terrorist whose wardrobe is full of black kurtas (and black shawls to cover himself if he’s wearing anything else) and a professor who can endorse detergent with his flawless white kurtas.
Anurag Sinha gets a nice meaty part for a debut, reminiscent of Vivek Oberoi’s Chandu in Company and Anil Kapoor breathes so much life and poignancy into a cliché that your heart goes out to the fine actor absolutely wasted in this preach-fest (The scene he breaks down has to be one of his finest performances in recent times). The casting apart, Ghai gets nothing right.
Ghai’s general assumption is not only that the mass comprises of low-IQ idiots, he also assumes they are visually challenged and/or that they have a hearing disability. Right from the first scene, he spells it all out, sometimes literally with sub-titles.
No joking, a sequence in the film plays out like this:
An investigating official from the CBI says: This time the terrorists are trying something new. They are sending suicide bombers. Whoa!
Cut to a conversation in a tea-shop where a bunch of fundamentalists are discussing the day’s headlines about police rounding up suspects as our terrorist hero chips in a statement that spells out his angst. Another quotes from the Quran to support hatred and the professor in white enters the scene to quote it in context. He then goes on to explain: “You are probably wondering how come I know so much about the Quran in spite of being Hindu. That’s because I’m Urdu Ke Professor and I’m Quran ke kareeb,” Ghai makes Anil Kapoor say that another two times lest we forget. He then has a supporting character spell it out again as he leaves: If the professor is the ‘zor’ (force) behind Chandni Chawk, his wife is the ‘shor’ (noise).
It predictably cuts to his wife (Shefali putting in an earnest performance) in the middle of a showdown standing up for a girl in the burqa who’s just been dumped by her husband. She orders someone to go fetch the TV-waalon.
No jokes, Ghai actually has a bunch of extras run up to a couple of readily available mediapersons somewhere in the area: “Ai TV-waalon, we have breaking news for you.”
As TV folks rush in to shoot, the professor steps in to tell them to stop all the drama and walks away as the TV crew promptly follows him, hoping to get an insightful byte or two.
Somewhere in there is a poster: Terrorism is a ruthless virus. The more you scream, the more powerful it gets.
Okay, why are we cribbing when he’s made films worse than this? Because, this is not exactly Ghai’s mainstream outing. This is produced by Mukta Arts Searchlight, a division of Mukta Arts that caters to niche tastes.
If this is Subhash Ghai’s brand of art-house cinema, aren’t we glad we have been warned appropriately before his commercial outings: Yuvraaj and Hello Darling?