Black N White: Darathie Bhardwaj and Swagata Bharali shine in a thoroughly enjoyable film that could have ended better!
  • Release Date: – 24/02/2023
  • Cast: – Ravi Sarma, Swagata Bharali, Himanshu Gogoi, Atanu Mahanta, Darathie Bhardwaj, Chinmoy Kataki, Raju Roy
  • Director: – Dhanjit Das

When I walk into a thriller, the first thing that I expect of it is to have a story that is unpredictable and is peppered with genuine surprises, interesting twists and takes itself seriously. I also like thrillers that are an amalgamation of several parallelly running storylines that all combine in the end to give us a clear look at the bigger picture that is the story of it. This is exactly what Black N White turned out to be and I had a delightful time with it. The film falters a little in the end but it does enough right up till then to make for an entertaining and somewhat impactful watch. This is a rarity for commercial Assamese cinema.

The plot: –

Gungun (Swagata Bharali), a flamboyant and efficient police officer is after the drug mafia in the city. Soon, she is pulled into a high-profile murder case of a politician that needs immediate solving. The leader of the ruling party (Chinmoy Kataki) brings in his own pawn, a hard-as-a-nail police officer, Pratap (Raju Roy) to take over the investigation from Gungun and take the case forward in a manner that is as per the wishes of his boss. While Gungun is forced to assist Pratap, she continues her parallel investigation into the case.

Mainee (Darathie Bhardwaj), a beautiful call girl gets entangled in a murder case when her client is brutally murdered when he is in her company. She then goes on the run from the police and the goons who are after her. She quickly starts running out of options and the only help she has left is Abhi (Atanu Mahanta), a small-time journalist who is haplessly in love with her.

Bro (Ravi Sarma), a mysterious and charismatic man keeps popping up at different junctures in the stories of Gungun, Mainee, and Pratap. Everywhere he shows up, carnage follows. The rest of the film is about how these stories run into each other and finally culminate in one thrilling climax.       

Tight, griping, and smartly structured story: –

I was immediately engrossed in the serious, quirky, thrilling, and gritty narrative of the film as it kept me guessing. I loved the clarity in the storytelling for atleast 80 % of the screenplay and it was one of its greatest strengths. The multiple tracks running parallelly were presented lucidly and were easily intelligible. It was edited together effectively in such a manner that the back and forth between the storylines contributed to making the screenplay even more interesting. There was atleast one minor track that was playing out in a different timeline and this storyline held the key to the entire plot. It was disguised wonderfully.

Through the story of the film, the writer-director tries to address a large number of issues like corruption in politics, drug trafficking & flesh trade and how they are interlinked. The different political predicaments, how the abolition of drugs is used as a means to attract voters in the election, how the leader of the ruling party is more powerful than the chief minister himself, etc. are also touched upon efficiently.

Approach to the storytelling: –

I liked Dhanjit Das’s approach to storytelling. The film remains serious and tries to have an impact on the audience with its characters and their numerous predicaments. There are comedic elements in the narrative but they are used sparingly to ensure that the seriousness of the narrative is never liquidated. The comedic elements only provide momentary breaks from the serious approach to the story and are delivered through specific characters at befitting moments.

The performances elevate the film to a higher pedestal: –

Black N White is as engrossing as it is not only because of its layered and investing story but also because of how well it is acted. I was extremely happy to note that not a single character in the film commands the entire narrative. Every character has its own critical place in the story and they are realized with conviction and power by the different actors who are essaying these characters. Some of them have a more pronounced and prominent presence but every character in the narrative is given its due.  

Darathie Bhardwaj is fast becoming one of my favorite Assamese actors of recent times. It was only a few days back that I watched her portray a highly sensitive and nuanced character in Jolsobi and here she is playing another character that is as different from her character in Jolsobi as possible. That however doesn’t affect her ability to draw in the audience with her performance and the strange but potent soothing aura that she has about herself. There is one emotional scene in this film between her and Atanu Mahanta and this scene shows us how effective she can be even without uttering a single word. It was Darathie’s rendition that elevated a somewhat underwritten character to being one of the most interesting and likable characters in the film.

Swagata Bharali as Gungun is great. I loved her quirky mannerisms and how believable she is able to make her character. While she plays Gungun with heightened drama and a larger-than-life aura, she remains strangely believable and grounded. It isn’t an easy feat to pull off.

Raju Roy plays a tough cop who is being played by a politician but also wants to play his own game. The first thing that I noticed about him was his unconventional looks. It suited the character perfectly. Add to that his believable and often overpowering performance and you have the perfect rendition of the Pratap. 

Atanu Mahanta as Darathie’s hapless lover is tragic in more ways than one. He loves the girl but is forced to watch her in another’s arms. When he finally has her for himself, he realizes that he might lose her altogether and decides to do something incredibly selfless. Mahanta is able to sell these emotions of the character through his expressions and mannerisms. This adds a dash of drama and heart to his storyline and makes his chemistry with Darathie Bhardwaj even more effective.    

The “Ravi Sharma” cameo and its impact on the film: –

Ravi Sarma is one of the most likable superstars that we have in Assam and he is used intelligently throughout the film to not only add a dash of heroism to an otherwise grounded film but also to drive home a uniquely powerful character. This character has something to do with every storyline in the narrative and it might, in the end, prove to be either the hero or the villain of the story. Sarma brings his charisma and charm to not only make the character heroic in a unique way but also make the audiences wait for the time when he would appear on the screen. While his part is small, it is significant and casts a long shadow on the rest of the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and machoism in the film.    

Well-executed action sequences and pulsating background score: –

The action of Black N White encapsulates hand-to-hand combat, chase sequences, gunfights, and also has elaborate stagings. Each of these elements of the action is done with aplomb and proficiency. The visual effects complementing the action could have been a little better but they are still passable. Every appearance of Ravi Sarma is accompanied by a pulsating background score that worked well for me. It did enhance the impact of the action and coupled with the indelible charm and charisma of Ravi Sarma delivered moments of true heroism and gusto.   

What didn’t work: –

I felt that the culmination of the film left a lot to be desired. While the film presented a wonderful and intelligible chain of events throughout, it turned a little confusing towards the end. The big reveal could have been thought out better and put out more effectively. Some of the characters and their trajectories were confusing and made very little sense. The culmination of the story also left me a little confused. For a film that was building up so well, it should have ended with a bang. The motivations of some of the characters are not explained and that proved to be an issue for me. The lack of budget shows in the visual work and the makers should have tried to cover it up with some smart work around revealing visuals. The film takes a few liberties towards the end and introduces some conducive coincidences that were too much to fathom after experiencing a grounded approach to storytelling throughout the rest of the film.

Final words: –

Having said all that, Black N White is still a very enjoyable and often impactful film. It is produced by Rohit Sharma who also produced Kolongpar. The film shows many of Kolongpar’s inherent qualities and has the same gritty feel. The performances are the biggest pull along with an interesting story and some well-done action sequences. I would happily watch this film a second time and I am confident that this would be the case with most audiences.

Rating: – 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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