Black and Iqbal

The other day when I was flicking channels I caught a scene from the movie ‘Black’ starring Rani Mukherjee as a deaf, mute and blind charachter (a take on Helen Keller) and Amitabh Bachchan playing her eccentric teacher.

I saw this scene in which Rani Mukherjee walked like Charlie Chaplin and apparently there was nothing wrong with her feet but I guess it was a nice way to get the audience to feel sad about a poor girl. It got me thinking about the movie and names like Hellen Keller.. hmmm.
I remember reading about her in some school textbook. She was quite the inspirational figure. Rani Mukherjee’s character looked just about tragic at best. The acting was good I guess. It won the National Award of the best film but when I first saw it and even now its always felt like going into a French Restaurant where excellent Italian cuisine was served.
The movie has everything going for it.
Great cast, renowned director, great photography and a inspirational story.
Hmm that word inspiration again. If you really thought about Helen Keller’s life she was a person who achieved a lot more than just centering her life around a teacher and sitting on a bench feeling snowflakes. She campaigned for the Socialist Party, stood up for women’s voting rights, assisted in the founding of the iconic ACLU and travelled the world.
She wrote 12 books and several articles. She did more than most people do in a lifetime and all this in spite of being deaf and blind.
‘Black’ was that cesspool of pity which is lauded over this girl’s character in the movie where all the movie does, is showing us that life is tough for a deaf, mute and blind girl. I mean what the fuck?
Does not common sense say that anyways? The movie shows her as a outcast who doesn’t fight back or live her life on her own terms. It shows her as a outcast who clings to her teacher and that’s it.
The movie is melodramatic, visually brilliant piece of an excuse to be a tear jerker. It seems all the director wanted were great award winning shots, the story be damned.
All the director wanted was us to feel sorry for a disabled girl. Worse the creators say Helen Keller’s life was a inspiration for this movie.

Now really wiki Helen Keller again and you’d go wow !!

I mean here’s a person who did stuff. Right through the movie there is no friend, no family member who cares about the character. If the family cares it’s only through dinner dialogues to prove that they probably care a little bit. The years of disgusting behaviour is balanced with a couple of scenes of repentance by the family and life is peachy again.

All this makes me think about another Hindi movie called Iqbal.
It’s about a deaf and mute boy in a village who resists family pressure to play cricket. It ends with the kid in India colours as a fast bowler.
The boy’s disability is never shown as a problem. You are never made to feel sorry for the kid, at least not too much and he’s moving along towards his goals without melodrama.
Yeah I rather think ‘Iqbal’ is more representative of Helen Keller’s life than ‘Black’.

Frankly people with disabilities have it tough and we all know that. Why make them feel worse by pitying them and feeling sorry for them. Help them out if you think you can or watch how they help themselves out. Most times we have a lot to learn from them anyways. So dare I say learn from them.

2 responses to “Black and Iqbal”

  1. Gurneet Avatar

    you are right again bro…Black was much of a hype and hoopla… made by creatively challenged people which we have here.Wonder why S L Bhansali is hailed as India's best director.. what has he made… 4 films? 1) Khamoshi – Average2) HDDCS – Huge hit amongst Chichora guys and gals..( Excuse me for the language, but couldn't think of a more apt word)3) Black- HYpe , hype & more Hype.4) Sanwariya – Balloon is busted.Wonder when hype will come to an end..

  2. IdeaSmith Avatar

    I wish I had known you when this travesty of a film came out. I felt like I was the only one wincing in disgust and everyone around me thought I was cold to think so about a disabled person. It was impossible at the time to explain that my issue was with the attitude towards disability, not disability itself. Black was such blatant emotional manipulation and an obvious bid to win an international award like the Oscars.

    I’ve actually used the exact same comparison to Iqbal, which I think also came out around the same period – a film that tells the story of a disabled person with a lot more respect & compassion, depicting the disability as an aspect of the character rather than the character’s entire plotline.

    The sad truth is it’s 2023 and popular media still either fetishises or invisiblises people with disabilities.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: