Is this movie really directed by Subhash Ghai, the guy whose resume’ reads Kalicharan, Karz,Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan,Saudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes and Taal (let’s forget memories, I mean Yaadein and Kisna for the time being, you know disasters do happen)? What happened to the glitz, the Bollywood spice and the saccharine? Oh they have all gone, and gone for good. The glam has taken a back seat, and the director is ON. Scene-1, take 1-Action. Subhash Ghai’s “Black and White” speaks volumes for itself- of the guts and the dare that he has taken up, leaving aside all that he has done previously, and ventured into totaly new lands of filmmaking- a land which is politely termed as experimental cinema. Kudos to the man who quit the huge hat, refrained himself from that addictive cameo and did a brilliant job behind the lens. And all of this praise doesn’t come from your knowledge of what you expect of a Subhas Ghai blockbuster. But because, B&W has all that it takes to make it a heartfelt attempt at making GOOD cinema. From the moment when the reels began to roll to unveil the Solar Eclipse and the Diamond Ring shine on the Title, I knew that I so want this film to be good. And the good thing was, it IS.
The story is of an Afghan Fidayeen suicide bomber who takes up the name of Numair Qazi( Anurag Sinha) and has been assigned with the task of bombing the Red Fort in New Delhi on 15th August. He has exactly 14 days to execute the task, and he does so with help from his organisation’s arrangements which even include members in the Indian Parliament and local Indians too. He is made to stay in the heart of Delhi’s cultural boiling pot- Chandni Chowk at the residence of his ‘adopted’ grandfather ( Habib Tanvir). However, he faces hurdles to get through Red Fort securities for D-Day, and in his attempt to arrange for it, he uses the help of Prof. Rajan Mathur( Anil Kapoor), a Urdu professor at Zakir Hussain College. But little did he know that Prof. Mathur and his wife Roma (Shefali Shah) were going to unleash before him, the colors of secularism and the ideologies of tolerance, tehzeeb and trumpets (as in band baaja at the marriage ceremony of Nimmo, that Punjabi girl). However, Mr.terrorist comes across not only like a constipated angry man, but also one who doesn’t shave, doesn’t smile and doesn’t like socialising. And well, chicks dig that. At least the unnecessary Shagufta (Aditi Sharma, winner of the Reality TV movie star hunt that we have long forgotten). Amidst all the chaos and the mounting tension of D-Day approaching, Numair however gets his conscience awakened and is now on the horns of a dilemma, whether or not he should go ahead with his plan of action. His fundamentalist belief gets hit by the secular ideologies of Prof.Mathur, and Numair has a change of heart.
The climax though wasn’t as satisfying as the movie which led to it. But leave aside the climax, the somewhat LOUD activism of Shefali Shah, B&W brings to the table, a film which talks of one of the most talked about things of the world -terrorism & counter-terrorism- and yet, our cinema fears to talk about it. Anil Kapoor is one of Indian cinema’s most under-utilised actors, and with Prof.Mathur, he proves his mettle yet again. I love seeing him speak and I believe in his words. But more than that, I can see through his pain when he chokes in his grief and fails to utter a word. Give him all the awards for this one. Shefali Shah is over-enthusiastic, overtly hyper and oh that Bong-accent just sucks. I know she is a brilliant actress but please don’t overdo the good actress thing. Special round of applause for debutante Anurag Sinha as the silent and angry young Fidayeen. He plays it quite well, but I would like to stop at it. Becuase we all know that angry debuts just fade away with a chocolate second (remember Vivek Oberoi as Chandu in RGV’s Company, which reminds me-Where is Vivek, or is it Viveik?). Last but not the least, theatre veteran Habib Tanvir as the old Urdu poet somehow is the icing on the cake. His satire is perfectly matched with his histrionics and I feel elated to hear his knowledge being enveloped in his rhymes.
It is indeed a pleasure to watch such a beautiful thought-provoking film to have come out of the camp of Mukta Arts. It is more of a pleasure that it challenges each and every stereotypical formula of counter-terrorism themes.However, B&W is indeed preachy at parts, but is miles away from being cliched and shows that at the end of the dark tunnel, there is a beam of light, a light that can reflect radiant hues- and yes, terrorists can have a change of heart. And yes, life doesn’t exist only in the shades of Black and White; it also glows as bright as the lights of Chandni Chowk and the Red pride of the Lal Qila. Long live Secularism. Jai Hind!