“Why Black and White? “, the interviewer who wasn’t introduced asked the director Ian McDonald. By the gesture of McDonald, the interviewer looked like a distinguished filmmaker himself. The answer seemed pretty obvious to me. The movie is about chess. Black and White are the only two colors on the board. The response of McDonald though was something peculiar. He educated the audience that more than 240 hours of footage was shot in color. The post-production which went on for a year post the 3 years of shoot, was where the movie was converted to black and white. It enhanced the emotions of the characters, made the lines on their faces clearer and left out the frill characters in the background. The color of the chess board wasn’t a force fit but a natural one.
The audience at the Tata Theatre in the premises of the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai broke into a long applause as soon as the credits started rolling. The event being celebrated was the 13th edition of the Mumbai International Film Festival.
I was oblivious to the world of Blind Chess before I made the decision to watch the documentary. The film begins with a few hands feeling the 32 chess pieces on the board. The audience is quickly drawn into unchartered waters. One notices that the black squares are raised to feel them apart from the white ones, each square has a hole in the center which the peg of the bottom of each piece fits into, A large dot on the top of each white piece and the manner in which the quivering hands feel the board and the piece at the same time. As the 96 minutes unfolds, it encourages the audience to appreciate the gift of sight and the incredible organ called ‘The Brain’ that we humans possess.
The tag line of the movie – ‘Four moves in, we are all blind’ sets the right tone for the story. The yet to be fulfilled dream of the protagonist is the central theme. Like Arjuna from the Mahabharata, Charudatta Jadhav has his goal set on one aim – ‘The Indian Blind Chess players should be able to compete with the sighted and go on to become Chess Grand Masters’. The film traverses through his own life through his tales and references of the struggles, his achievements and his yet to be achieved dreams. The 3 characters of the films whose life is captured over a period of 3 years, shows the struggle of the Blind in India, The obsoleteness of the infrastructure for the differently abled, The agony the parents go through to make their children independent. The film doesn’t show parents crib and cry about the situation they or the kids are in. It shows how they have accepted the situation and wants to live in the present to make the future for the blind better.
Algorithms, celebrates the character of human self-determination and perseverance. It doesn’t make you sympathize with the blind. It makes you view them with a lot more empathy and pride in the talents they possess. Seeing the characters battle it out to achieve the incredible makes one introspect, “Are you living in your comfort zone?”, “Is this best you can do?” It makes you ponder on your untapped potential. The authors of the film are successful in displaying the potential that our country has in the field of Blind Chess, the sharpness and yet to be achieved altitude of each human mind and that love surpasses all.