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Black: industry keeps fingers crossed

By Vickey Lalwani
February 03, 2005 16:54 IST
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A still from BlackSanjay Leela Bhansali's Black, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji, has aroused tremendous curiosity. The story is different from the usual Bollywood fare, and revolves around a blind, deaf and mute girl and her teacher.

But will the movie, which releases tomorrow, set the cash registers ringing?

"Why not?" says Rani Mukerji, whose character in the film is based on Helen Keller, the deaf and blind American woman who became a role model for millions of handicapped people across the globe. "Whether it clicks in the box-office or not, Black will remain the most special film of my life," Rani adds. "I know how much hard work I have put in, learning sign language. I know what emotional trauma I felt while doing the character."

The advance bookings, however, are not encouraging.

"The advance booking is no great shakes. But which film apart from Koi... Mil Gaya and Kal Ho Naa Ho had long advance booking queues in recent times?" says distributor Niraj Mancchanda (Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai and Koi... Mil Gaya). "Even tickets for Veer-Zaara were available. Black will be a well made film but the viewership may be restricted to certain pockets only," he adds.

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Trade analyst Taran Adarsh is hopeful. "It will be a great film. I am eagerly awaiting the premiere. Considering the technical brilliance of Bhansali, I pray that Black breaks the 2005 jinx. No film has succeeded this year so far," he says.

Another trade analyst, Amod Mehra, feels though the advance bookings have not opened well, there is enough buzz around the film. But he too believes Black will have a restricted audience. "It might be difficult for such a subject to click in the B and C centres. One thing which could go against the film is that 60 percent of the film is in English."

Leading exhibitor Manoj Desai says, "The subject is very sensitive. The first show will decide the final outcome. But I pray that it runs. Nothing seems to have worked for us for a long time."

Distributor cum exhibitor Shyam Shroff (Shringar Films, Fame Adlabs) differs. "I think the multiplexes have recorded fairly good openings in terms of advance booking. As far as interiors and small towns are concerned, I would not like to comment until I see the film," he says.

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Vickey Lalwani