Black and White

Black and white is so misleading. Ok, I am not rambling about the movie. I am referring to the colors. It means you can either have it this way or that. You can never have it the third way. It means you are bad and not good, or good and never bad. It means you are no longer human and you are no longer capable of a lot of good and some lil’ bad. Black and white to me means there is no room for hope and reform. It means you have a problem of color blindness, you suffer from some kind of jaundice which allows you to see everything in this world in terms of black and white.

Please remember, black and white are not polar opposites of each other. The opposite of black is something which is not black (it could be yellow, red, orange, blue, blah blah) and the opposite of white is something which is not white (similarly, it could be green, violet, lavender, magenta, just about anything). Now we can’t conveniently exchange the variables and say ok, black and white, from today…you are opposites of each other. On paper, they are, incidentally. Is it the symbolic import of the message they convey? In that case, they are complementary to each other.

Of course, B&W is a cool phenomenon. Our 1st photograph, our 1st TV, our favourite outfits have both of them as indispensable colors.

I love the touch and feel of old photographs, fair people always looked white fair and dark people were glad the light did the magic, shine shine all around.

I grew up watching Byomkesh Bakshi, our desi version of Sherlock Holmes and He-man on our B&W TV and that smart lady still holds a position of pride in our family museum.

Colors, of course add glory to happiness and too much of color can also be funny. But some people either love it black or white or both. If it is both, it could be grey and if it is not, then it is black and white still.

Subhash Ghai’s Pardes, Karz, Karma even Yaadein had lot of music, colors, drama, enthusiam. His latest offering, Black and White is different with enough reason and resonance after the Geelani case that rocked Parliament literally. Most academicians are not like Prof Mathur and his firebrand wife. Most teachers I know lead shelved lives, scared of being scarred. Only a few make it to the podium and shout slogans. Many do not even go to attend R-day parades. Nevermind, attending R-day parades does not make you good or bad, you can still watch them on TV and shed a tear or two when the bravery awards are being handed out.

The cinematography is powerful, lot of tough terrain and vision through the lens. A photographer gets shot for some honest photography, some news is recorded ala Al-Jazeera fashion and the available media taking a sonorous afternoon siesta at Chandni Chowk for some spicy gully-nukkad communal stuff. Lack of color is bland but it also goes to tell a scary tale why the colors faded away and you have only black and white. When the cultural or other forces (read religion, for example) take precedence over trivial matters, it results in red, symbolic of danger and bloodshed, actually.

What kind of a world are we looking at? A world that ends up burned, all you see is black billowy smoke against the white sky. Yes, am I beginning to believe that the world is only black and white?

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