Digressing BLACK

Originally posted on PASSION FOR CINEMA

Location: In a picturesque café, UPENN Campus, Philadelphia.
Weather: Slight drizzle, in low 50’s.
Situation: Me, euphoric after first tryst with the camera. My friend – Doesn’t give a shit!

He: Dude, so PFC really got onto you huh. Fult California, Film Festivals, Scripts and all that. Great going man.
Me: Yeah, I hardly do anything though. Just watch a lot of movies, actually a movie a day, read a lot that they write on PFC and digress a lot.
He: So lets get back to our fav conversation once again. BLACK! You tho full informed movie buff/ critique/ reviewer, you did not like Black dude? For most out there and me, it was one hell of a movie man!
Me: Dude, Black??? Bah, not that discussion again. It’s a crappy movie man, made by an egomaniac who wanted a bunch of shiny black ladies and we being we (i.e. desi junta), we gave him more than his hands could hold.

He: Why do you say that? I thought that movie was creatively one the most novel movies made in this time. I mean, the story was new, not the regular run of the mill types, was made with a lot of passion and most people liked it.
Me: See that’s the point. You find it novel because of all the hype the movie generates. Larger than life canvas, big stars without makeup, fult sensibility attached kinda posters and teasers and you have made it imperative for all the so called intelligent audience to talk about it. When you succeed in making the so called informed and happening crowd to talk about it, its bound to make an impact. Did it run in B and C grade centers?

He: So you consider yourself above the average cine-goer huh? Dude, this guy made a film on a subject that no one’s touched before. Ok, not completely a virgin subject but a rare movie no doubt. You know films, or at least you project that you do. See all these Argentinean, Russian and Iranian films every night and say that is true cinema and all, but what about this guy? He’s made a few films before. Good ones I must add, he know movies more than you do so if he believed in it and found people to fund this huge project, then there must be something in it.
Me: Listen, firstly, I am not above average. I am just a regular Joe…
He: Dude, you speak about directors with their first names man, as if they are your best friends. Definitely you are not. BTW, do you know how frustrating it is sometimes to hear you rant off in first names when I don’t know a thing about them…?
Me: hehe… sorry dude, but it’s just… let it go. Coming to the point at hand, firstly, Black, for me is scum. It is the worst I have ever seen in Indian Cinema. EVER! Its actually is lower than scum. Dude, did you buy a ticket to watch it man? Tell me… did u? Or did you not watch it on video…
He: CD but…
Me: It was raining that Friday. First day, morning show. I stood in the queue to take the tickets man, literally came in a couple of hrs before the counter opened. You know how Hyd theatres are. Was wet when I saw the movie. I waited for this movie, had expectations from it, and spun off scenarios based on what I heard. I loved Devdas; I could never watch the Akkineni Nageshwar Rao or the Dilip Kumar version because of their pace and I was young then. This guy’s Devdas was an eye-opener for me. I loved the way he handled the story and brought out a kinda newness into it. I loved the actors in it; I loved Shahrukh and Kiron Kher in it. I loved Khamoshi too, so I had a lot of bias towards BLACK when I stepped into the theatre. But man, I saw people crying… I mean I was watching them cry and was racking my brains as to why they were rather than seeing the movie. I mean, I saw people walking out in trance when I was laughing out loud… man, it sucked. It frustrated me for days as to how cheap a person can become.

He: What makes you think you are fucking bigger than all of them who liked the movie man? I mean how you can make statements like that. You and your pathetic pseudo intellectual mind can only dream of making a movie, can you ever get down to it. Even if you do, you cannot touch what that guy did man.
Me: Ooh crap, you don’t have to defend it just because I hate it dude, COM ‘on, seriously, don’t tell me you loved every bit of it.
He: Baap. It was much better than the crappy link that you sent me of Bheja Fry. Honestly, you guys have this small man syndrome man. You always like movies that are small, made in a small budget, made by these so called intellectual directors, talk about foreign cinema and all that which a common man cannot digest and then when a guy actually makes a larger than life cinema, paints a canvas that is full of grandeur and imagination, you rubbish that guy as being egomaniac and ostentatious… dude, it was creative, grand and told a very heartfelt and in your face story…
Me: Again, crap. Dude, I have no bias towards grand cinema. I love grand cinema, you know LOTR is my fav, I love large canvas cinema…
He: Talk about our films, every time you give me an example of a good film, you choose foreign films and when you want to rubbish, you have to start of with Karan Johar.
Me: Ok, I loved his own Devdas, I told you…

He: Ok.
Me: So, big cinema is awesome to watch, but who is he to make it? He cannot, I mean not contemporary big and posh cinema. He is just an ordinary guy like us, has the same kinda childhood as we did if not less… so when he paints a picture that is too modernly grand, its looks like a cheap bauble. See khamoshi. It was realistic. Realistic because it was simple and plain, something that I am sure he is as a person or grew up in. Listen the story was ok… but the way he shot it, melodrama ands all that… what he did to make people cry in the theatre, used the same old Maa concept…
He: So what? Also, what Maa concept, only that one made you cry dude… what when she triumphs or when the teacher achieves his goal?
Me: Bullshit. Listen, its a trap that the director puts you in. Emotional bonding and all that and you loose focus. Make a person fall in that trap of grandeur and you loose perspective.
He: What loose perspective. Listen baap, we haven’t still discovered all the emotions man, or haven’t yet gone through a lot in life. How much emotion can you understand in 22yrs? Once you hit 60, then if you were to see the film maybe you would see yourself in Amitabh’s position?
Me: What are you talking about? Dude, it was a cheap effort. Not that I remember a lot about that movie but I distinctly remember that scene in which Rani is rocking a dark room with a single source of light and having a full wall of pictures of her childhood. I mean, does it make any sense? Do you see it anywhere? Also that whole snow thingy. That episode at the fountain. I say why that entire make up job of trying to push the imagination of a blind girl. Remember we used to have this deaf, blind and dumb orchestra that used to perform every year in our school. They were real and they had a lot of emotion. But you never feel cheap when you see them. You honestly see resilience in what ever they do – walk, talk, sing…

He: Isn’t that what you saw dude? Rani was so brilliant…
Me: Ya right. What was so brilliant… all that hysterical shouting and out of the body gestures. Remember Sadma man… Sridevi…
He: Another brilliant movie…
Me: Precisely, that’s performance. Do you feel shy when you watch that movie, or veer your gaze away amused when watching any scene in Sadma? She played a mentally challenged girl and Sridevi was brilliant…
He: Again, so was Rani…
Me: How? All through the movie she wore black overall frocks and had her hair tightly tied, walked around in rock solid straight lines, mouthed off patronizing dialogues and went off at the slightest hint of an emotional outburst??? And it was as if she wants to prove that she is serious and all business when she has absolutely no idea as to how she is as a person? She is more matured than everyone out there when a person born like that absolutely has no control over oneself. Why the “I-am-protagonist” inference? Why Randian funda about the character when it is far from it…
He: Your inferences? That’s what you think…
Me: Well, I am entitled to it. Each has his own interpretations and that’s what a movie has to do. Dude, BLACK may have been good to a lot of people. A lot of age groups or people with a varied understanding of the subject may have a better judgment than I do, but from the POV of a story unfolding on the big screen, it was rotten. The premise was wrong. The premise that there is a fight to live against all odds is valid but that it is so grand and pompous is downright wrong. What’s with romanticizing the life of a challenged person? How can you justify such a plot and say its entertaining/refreshing/novel cinema. Because you raised the point of Bheja Fry – there is no comparison. No doubt about it. That’s why I said its absolutely mindless, totally hilarious and downright idiotic…

He: … but it made me sleep…
Me: So, it did not appeal to you. Its ok, but I support such a cinema over BLACK because it does not hurt anybody. The characters are funny themselves, the script is lighthearted and the narrative non-nonchalant. As you always talk, cinema is all about entertaining a person for his money, Bheja Fry serves the purpose. All you say is good/ok/bad and move on. Its not going down the annals of Indian Cinema as a classic nor will it get abused in Sunday columns. But when a movie like BLACK makes it to headlines, it gets to me. I rack my brain as to what drives people to take a stance to appreciate it when it does nothing to either lighten your mood nor prove make an impact except that of sorrow and pity. Dude, for me cinema is more than just entertainment. It’s a powerful medium to communicate with people who need an inlet and outlet for thoughts and ideas. All that you call pseudo-intellectualism is all bull crap. We have resources, ideas, the time and the means to explore ideas and work on them to aid us. We have discussions, informed discussions with a civilized frame of mind. Do all have that luxury or the time? Do all have that freedom? Black is just an example. Bad movies get made all the time. They are bad and they are called so. You see through them, but this evil under the guise of honest or creative cinema is what’s dangerous. Its EVIL!
He: Fuck you dude, what are you ranting away? Cinema evil it seem’s? Stop analyzing so much. That’s where I have a problem with you. You take a very well made movie and rape it and say its for good. Make one, at least write an original idea. Then point fingers…
Me: Dude, its cinema man. I have a right to have an opinion on what I see.
He: Watever…
Me: Watever…

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