Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004



Other Movies


Black Friday – Provocative and disturbing

India calls itself the world’s largest democracy, but does not have the courage to allow artistic freedom. Anurag Kashyap’s Hindi film “Black Friday” -- which documents the 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts that killed 300 people, injured many more, destroyed a lot of property and, worse, hit national pride -- was made in 2005. But the movie could open only on February 9 2007 this year, because the Government Censor felt that it could cause social unrest and hinder the trial of guilty.

But the real reason was something else. “Black Friday” – based on a well-researched book by crime reporter Hussain Zaidi -- shows how the Bombay police missed vital clues and information that could have stopped Islamic militants from engineering the explosions. Disbelief and arrogance blinded the police, and Bombay, India’s financial hub often touted as the next Shanghai, crumbled.

The Islamic extremists were seeking revenge for the demolition by Hindu fundamentalists of the 400-year-old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Central India, in December 1992, and the butchering of 500 Muslims in Bombay the following January.

Though “Black Friday” feels like a documentary, it is not one. It is not even fiction, because it follows real incidents and characters like Islamic dons Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, and investigating police officer Rakesh Maria. The film marks a new trend in Indian cinema of placing information alongside entertainment.

Kashyap’s work is passionate, but never irresponsible, examining the bloody destruction (disfigured bodies), police torture of suspects and cold procedures in a non-linear form, sometimes using grainy images in red for sophistication and style. With performances that are uniformly subtle rather than delirious and dramatic, “Black Friday” neatly avoids a major Bollywood drawback, and the movie ultimately disturbs us.

(Webposted February 15 2007)