As Bollywood's self proclaimed showman director, Subhash Ghai has knocked out more blockbuster entertainers than Simon Cowell has teenage pop idols. So it's anybody's guess why he'd want to turn serious with his latest flick, Black and White. A political drama that attempts to delve into the inner mind of a Muslim suicide bomber, this is meant to be heavy stuff. Alas, a one dimensional script and dire direction from the veteran leaves newcomer Anurag Sinha struggling to portray anything of depth. There's nothing but religious patronising here.
Fresh from the training camps of Afghanistan, Mehmood (Sinha) gets a hair cut and trims his beard before heading to Delhi in order to blow up himself and thousands of other Indians on their August 15th Independence day. Changing his identity and name to Numair, he remains more Islamic fundamentalist than young Indian Muslim, as he plots away with corrupt businessmen and politicians. But when he befriends a Delhi university professor (Anil Kapoor) and integrates into his local Hindu community as a cover, he realises his dream of martyrdom won't come easy. Thanks to stereotypical characters and plot turns create by Ghai and his co-writers, it's all too obvious what the outcome will be.
"A MOCKERY OF AN IMPORTANT MATTER"
If Ghai's black and white vision of India's current political climate is to to believed then the nation's Muslims are potential terrorists in disguise, while its Hindus are all religiously tolerant folk. Just one glimpse of a news bulletin or broadsheet will show you that life in a politically sensitive country such as India isn't that simple. Instead of exploring the complex issue of what turns a disillusioned young man turn into a jihadi, Ghai's heavy handedness makes a mockery of an important matter. Black and White proves Ghai isn't able to veer away from his tried and tested commercial formula.
Black And White (2008) is out in the UK on 7th March 2008.