Nineteen years have passed since the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Black', a true masterpiece graced by the incomparable talents of Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji. It's truly astonishing that Bollywood seems to have veered away from crafting such timeless gems. 'Black' stands as a lasting tribute to its profound storytelling, forever resonating with its portrayal of a young girl trapped in the abyss of deafness and blindness.
Her world, cloaked in perpetual darkness, is a world devoid of communication and comprehension. Yet, amidst this desolation, an angelic figure emerges – not in the literal sense, but in the form of a teacher. With his nurturing guidance, he bestows upon her the wings of knowledge, enabling her to ascend to unimaginable heights.
Rani Mukerji plays the character of Michelle McNally, while Amitabh Bachchan portrays Mr Debraj Sahaai, her mentor. The bond between teacher and student depicted in the film is inherently pure, showing that when nurtured, it can surpass even the strength of a parent-child relationship.
Can one truly encounter a teacher akin to Amitabh Bachchan's character? Perhaps not, yet 'Black' threads a convincing tale that resonates deeply. Above all, it imparts a powerful message of resilience and determination, emphasising the transformative power of guidance and the potential to turn darkness into light.
The film was released in 2005, and upon rewatching it now in 2024 or for someone watching it for the first time, certain actions and performances might appear a bit overly dramatic. For instance, Michelle's peculiar way of walking or her manner of speaking in sign language. However, such critiques are merely superficial. Both Rani and Amitabh deliver stellar performances in the film, undoubtedly marking it as a crowning achievement in their careers.
Mr Debraj Sahai invests countless years of his life into nurturing Michelle, remaining by her side until he is physically able. He transitions from being her teacher to guiding her in facing the world. As Michelle matures and evolves, the reality dawns that time waits for no one, and Mr Sahai inevitably ages, leaving Michelle to confront the world on her own eventually.
Mr Bhansali's brilliance in the film permeates every frame. Despite the departure from his usual flamboyance, with minimal colours and no songs, his vision really shines through.
Amitabh Bachchan's well-deserved National Award for Best Actor comes as no surprise, given his portrayal of a character traversing a spectrum of emotions, elevating the most heart-wrenching scenes. Ayesha Kapur's exceptional performance as the young Michelle must not be overlooked; she was truly extraordinary. Inspired by Helen Keller's life, 'Black' serves as a true form of inspiration for those grappling with darkness or fear. For those yet to experience this masterpiece, 'Black' is now available for streaming on Netflix.