Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black is a pleasant surprise. The promos had made me a little wary though. What if it was Mumbai masala in arty-farty guise? Also, it is a Bhansali product, and the memories of Devdaas still made me wince. Anyways, I went to the movie with a brave heart.
Through the first half, I was still wary. It was decent and quite predictable till then. The plot was straight, the narrative not bad, and Rani's performance was promising. But I didn't really expect anything much in the second half.
Later, I left the movie thinking, 'What's up with Bollywood? First Swades, then this ... have I missed out on some undercurrents? How, in the name of God, did the creator of Devdaas make such a surprisingly bold and hatke movie?' (But I have to give it to him that he made Khaamoshi, too.) Black and Swades are precisely the 'type' of movies, which our masters of masala have been saying the audiences will reject. (I know, Swades had some masala ingredients and there were some flaws in the movie, but when was the last time you saw a starving Indian farmer family on the big screen? Today, it takes courage to even raise some issues publicly.)
Some of the scenes had left me shaking my head. At one point, I thought Bhansali had lost his audience, and I am sure Bhansali was aware of the risk he was taking with that scene. (Won't spoil the fun for you. See it for yourself.) They initially booed, but the same scene turned out to have won the audience for Bhansali. Everyone was still in the hall with tension, not knowing how to react, waiting for what was to come next.
A few weeks ago, I underwent the torture of watching Kisna in the same hall. After the first 40 minutes or so, the audience knew they had been had, and booed and jeered, and hooted to let their steam off. We had to sit through the movie, stuck as our car was in the parking lot. But know what? Even a movie like Kisna has its uses: go tell your boss or any other jackass to go watch Kisna in PVR gold class ;)
So, my point is that in Black, some facts very indigestible to the average Indian movie-going audience (pardon the sweeping terms here) were thrust in its face. And they didn't boo. The parking lot was still full when the movie ended.
All you film makers out there: if you want to make a bad movie, please go ahead and make it. But do not dare to justify the shit by saying that this is what the audience likes. And this is for the arty farty ones: there are only two kinds of movies - good and bad. You can't be spared just because you are a non-commercial filmmaker.
So many times, the audience has hardly a choice. Of course, they can be merciless in their rejections sometimes. But they don't deserve to be made scapegoats. It is the entertainer's job to entertain, and take up the challenge to win the audience. We are waiting...