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Black And White : Movie Review
07th Mar 2008 23.30 IST
By Aparajita Ghosh
Subhash Ghai , the proverbial showman and the maker of many memorable masala movies, comes up with a pertinent, hard-hitting, slice-of-life film, appropriately titled 'Black And White'.
The film is about a sombre and brooding suicide bomber who has a change of heart and mind after witnessing the harmony-in-diversity of the friendly people of Chandni Chowk.
Newcomer Anurag Sinha plays a fidayeen from an Afghan terror camp who comes to Delhi on a deadly mission. His target is Red Fort. And he will execute his mission on August 15.
While in Delhi, the would-be bomber takes shelter in the house of a polite and wise poet (Habib Tanvir) in Chandni Chowk and passes himself off as Numer Qazi, a victim of Gujarat riots. In the same locality live the Urdu professor Rajan Mathur ( Anil Kapoor ) and his sharp-tongued social activist wife Roma ( Shefali Shah ).
Rajan, who sternly believes in religious tolerance and secularism, takes a liking to the quiet and grim Numer.
In the days leading up to his mission, Numer encounters a number of friendly characters in Chandni Chowk, including a pretty girl Shagufta ( Aditi Sharma ) who falls for him. The sullen and stone-hearted Numer struggles with his emotions. On top of it, professor Rajan, his wife Roma and the genteel octogenarian poet give Numer a different perspective of life.
As days pass, Numer finds himself in an unexpected dilemma. On one hand are his deep-rooted fundamentalist beliefs. On the other hand is a faint spark of love, and values of mutual tolerance and humanity that take root in his heart.
'Black And White' could easily have fallen into the trap of being a preachy film. Though the film does have a few such moments, it mostly manages to steer clear of the expected, in-your-face clichés that a Bollywood film with a message of communal harmony could have easily pandered to. And the credit for this should go to its director Subhash Ghai, who shows commendable restraint in handling the sensitive subject.
The only time Ghai seems to lose his grip over the plot is in the last half hour of the film when the screenplay is contrived to the director's convenience. It is in a few of these portions leading up to the climax that the movie becomes unreal and unconvincing.
The film's leading man Anurag Sinha exudes a simmering intensity befitting his character of a terrorist. The newcomer has few dialogues in the film, yet he gives a palpable persona to his Numer. A notable debut indeed.
Anil Kapoor keeps himself carefully restrained for most part of his role. Shefali Shah is terrific in a brief role. Aditi Sharma just about manages not to ham. Theatre veteran Habib Tanvir towers with his screen presence and imposing voice.
'Black And White' deals with a very relevant issue in the times of terrorism and racial profiling. Not only does the movie gives a message of hope that terrorists could be reformed, it also questions the way the state goes about dealing with terrorism.
It is an honest and commendable effort by Ghai. And it deserves to be seen at least once.
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