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Goodbye, Black Panther

By SUBHASH K JHA
August 29, 2020 12:22 IST
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American has had only one black president so far. And only one on-screen black superhero as well.
Subhash K Jha salutes Chadwick Boseman, who passed into the ages on Friday.

Chadwick Boseman arrives for the Oscars, February 24, 2019. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

IMAGE: Chadwick Boseman arrives for the Oscars, February 24, 2019. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
 

The unexpected death at age 43 of Chadwick Boseman, who played American cinema's first black superhero in Black Panther, comes as a complete shock.

Really, how much crueler is 2020 going to get.

Boseman's fans were eagerly looking forward to the Black Panther sequel which kept getting postponed.

Now we know why. Boseman, a superhero in real life too, was battling cancer for four years.

He never let the world know the pain, the struggle to remain physically afloat.

Being one of the world's sexiest men and all that, while from inside his physiology was giving way.

I remember seeing him on a talk show last year looking as fit as a fiddle (and probably feeling like shit) promoting the disappointing 21 Bridges where he spoke about physical fitness and fans and coping with popularity.

Not a peep into the monstrous pain he was going through.

To be a superhero on screen is one thing. To be able to fight such a debilitating disease and to keep up the public image of being in good health require inhuman volumes of strength and courage.

We salute you, Chadwick.

Imagine having to film a tough physical action film like 21 Bridges on the streets of New York when you were so unwell.

The film's release was delayed several times. Now we know why. I didn't like the film when I first saw it and I hated Boseman's last film, the over-rated Netflix-Spike Lee superhit Da 5 Bloods.

But now I will go back to both. Now I know the struggle and toil that Boseman put into these films as he fought off death.

Like Christopher Reeve who remained Superman from his wheelchair, Boseman will remain Black Panther from beyond his death.

Interestingly, Boseman's most accomplished performance is not as Black Panther, but as the controversial American singer James Brown in the 2014 bio-pic Get On Up.

Don't even dare to replace him with another black actor. The film will flop.

American has had only one black president so far. And only one on-screen black superhero as well.

There was so much to do. So much unfinished business. Chadwick had no right leaving everything so suddenly.

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