Black-ed Ham with Corn & Cheese

Black poster

This is in no way, a review. Rather, consider it a warning.

I really wanted to write “Spoilers Ahead”, but trust me, 2 minutes into the movie and you can start typing the script alongwith the movie. In fact, you might even come up with a better version. Something with a premise other than “Blind Girl, Old man with Alzheimers, and don’t forget the ham”.

In possibly the worst performance in recent times by an actor in a serious role, Amitabh Bachchan hammed his way to almost giving me an aneurysm before the movie was even 15 mins old. And this, while I was still trying to figure out which century the movie was being set in, and/or if I had accidentally messed up the DVD Audio setup and changed it to English. Cos’ you see, Amitabh had been dealing out one cheesy English line after the other, Pacino style, while contorting his face like a constipated monkey. Apparently, his character was supposed to be “eccentric” and this was his way of portraying it.


With all that being established, we are now transported, alongwith the eccentric idiot, to the Anglo-Indian household where little Rani is being raised like a caged animal in, what looks like, the House on Haunted Hill. Convenient for Ravi K.Chandran who then treats us to numerous shots of light streaming into a dark room, from various angles, as Hamitabh manhandles the young child in an attempt to teach her the ways of the world. Why, you ask? Cos’ the young child is also mentally unstable. Perfect platform to break open those dams of saline water down your cheeks. But to his credit, Chandran does manage to compose some beautiful shots, and in fact, all that gloss only manages to make the other deficiencies stand out with jarring clarity.
Of course, it only takes one random event for the child to get rid of her learning handicap. In this case, an attempted drowning by the Big Cheese, magically rids of her off this and instead of being handed over to the police (or better still, an asylum), Hamitabh stays on to train her in his ways.

The kid grows up to be Rani Mukherjee, who under the watchful eyes of Big Blithering idiot is now smart enough to lip-sync a jazz number alongwith another lip-synching bad actress trying in vain to look like an actual jazz singer. But no no, I’m picking on the minor things in a movie where everything else caused me greater agony. For example, the discovery that somewhere along the way, Michelle McNally’s sub-conscious registered all the Chaplin movies showing in her town and somehow picked up his walk. Now, obviously Bhansali had some master directorial thought process behind this move, but since he is an idiot, I’m not going to bother spending time thinking about it. All you have to know is that the blind girl also does a master Chaplin impression, more reason for me to not unlock my tear-ducts yet.

The rest of the movie meanders along, one corny scene to the other, while tracing the girl’s progress in a “normal college” located in god-knows-what universe. She also has a younger sister who, get this, feels neglected because of the all the attention her sister gets. And it all builds up to the obligatory scene about her whining about how she “stretched her arms out and no one was there”. No, I didn’t make that up, she actually utters that original line.

You know what? I’m glad I didn’t call this a review cos’ I just don’t have the energy to vent about the remaining scenes. I’m spent and I think I’ll just develop a tumor just thinking about that scene where Rani goes from typing 10 words/minute to 62 words in another magical moment. Or that scene where Amitabh & her kiss. Or…

The difference between people like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Karan Johar is that while the former is a pretentious idiot, the latter is just a bad film-maker with no pretensions about his movie-making skills. You know what you can expect of a Karan Johar film – bad plot, needless mush, glamorous stars et al. And thus, you have an option to stay away from his films. And I do. But people like Bhansali actually expect to be taken seriously, when they are no different from the Karan Johars of the world. Atleast, if you store your brains in the freezer for a few hours, you might actually enjoy a Johar movie. But movies like ‘Black’ fail as entertainers AND fail as serious attempts at film-making. And thus, a bigger failure than a Karan Johar movie, if you really think about it. But the sad part is, I know this movie will continue to be applauded for being different from the “usual trash” – the ‘relative measure’ critique that is the scourge of Indian cinema. And ‘Black’ will ride that wave all the way to the National Awards, and I’ll also trust some idiot commitee to deem it worthy of representing our country at the Oscars. Now that will be a ‘Black’ day for Indian cinema.

PS: If my repeated attempts to play on the words Amitabh or Big B caused you much irritation, you now know how I felt when I heard the cheesy English dialogues from the movie.

12 thoughts on “Black-ed Ham with Corn & Cheese”

  1. Dude…stop hatin’ on my homeboy Big ‘B’. I thought the performances for one, were truly commendable.

  2. Oh! please. Amitabh was horrible. If that is good acting, then dare I call you delusional? ;)
    I admit Rani & the little kid were good, and considering Bhansali made them go to extremes (like the walk & the little kid acting all mental), they still managed to impress occasionally.

  3. I havent seen “Black” but I agree that half-boiled attempts at serious film making are being lauded because of the fact they are different from your usual masala films. I guess we need a better yardstick than that.

    By the way, Anniyan songs are out everywhere on the net and they are disappointing seems to be the general consensus. I agreed with that. Listen to it for yourself.

  4. finally someone who has the guts (?) to speak the truth. like you have said, there are actors known for overacting and they do it on purpose for the audience’s benefit. the incomparable shivaji was once asked after an extremely hammed up scene why he overacted this way. to that he didn’t speak a word in erply but instead acted out the entire scene again in a aperfectly “normal” fashion and then shot back at the scribe: “adha evan paathuruppaan? (who would have seen(liked) that?”).
    but here, exactly as you have said, bhansali and big b expect to be taken seriously and i am sorry i felt cheated after all the other rave reviews.
    keep speaking the truth, manoj – even if the world likes to go the mainstream way …

  5. Manoj, I finally got to see “Miracle Worker.” Sanjay Leela Bansali can’t take much credit for the first half of the film coz it is a direct lift from this 1962 film based on Helen Keller’s life. Every scene was picked from this film. The only difference being: No overdose of senti stuff! The teacher is just as rough, and the child is just as wild. No! I didn’t weep through the film (as I did with Black!Grin), but you feel the teacher’s sense of achievement and pride! Very good one. See it if you haven’t already done it. More fun when you compare it to Black!:D

  6. You’re asking me to watch this movie so I could hate ‘Black’, Bachchan & Bhansali more?! Sure, will do! :)

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  8. At last.
    I saw the movie twice first in DVD and then in a theatre. I found the movie horrible both times. The reason I saw the movie twice was because I thought my first impression must have been wrong because anybody and everybody was praising the movie. Somehow i the movie Bhansali’s efforts show and it look ridiculous. barring a few scenes the movie was very pretentious and loud a la bhansali.

  9. Kudos and condolences to your brave self for having endured the torture twice!! Yeah, pretentious pretty much defines Bhansali. Only hope I retain enough bile for a follow-up post when ‘Black’ sweeps the National Awards next year.

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