Thursday, February 22, 2007

Black Friday****

Black Friday has been directed by Anurag Kashyap, the writer of the stories of Ram Gopal Varma's underworld dramas, most famously the path-breaking Satya. However, for his movie, Kashyap relies on S Hussain Zaidi's critically-acclaimed book of the same name. The book is a reconstruction of the incidents leading to the Bombay blasts, and how it was subsequently unravelled. It is a blot on Indian democracy that while the book has been sold openly, the movie has been lying in the cans, as it supposedly would have affected our judges (like most others, this case still drags on). It was obviously assumed that the judicial fraternity cannot, or does not read.
To stay faithful to the book, Kashyap depicts his movie in chapters (as I have not read the book, I assume the chapters are real). He takes names - Pakistan, Dawood, Tiger Memon - and tries his best to be objective about every involved party's perspective - the police, the conspirators, the executioners, and the victims. And he does so unsequentially, a format which my favourite author Amitav Ghosh uses quite well.
Black Friday follows the docu-drama format, what JP Dutta's horribly wrong LOC Kargil aspired to be. Both movies use everyday slang liberally, and while Kashyap has beeped out the worst ones in his movie, JP Dutta retained them all, as if to titillate.
The leading character in the movie is Baadshah Khan, ideologically-driven executioner of the plot, who subsequently realises that the entire jehad was only to avenge the losses suffered by Tiger Memon during the preceding Bombay riots. His flight-&-plight - to Delhi, village Rampur, Jaipur, Calcutta - before getting caught and turning into an official witness, is absolutely brilliantly captured in a scene where a dog is being coached to catch-and-fetch a ball. There are other great scenes, like where the investigating officer Rakesh Maria quietly tucks into a banana from the absconding Memon family's refrigerator, all because he is hungry, and this is going to upset him even further during the interrogations (to put it into perspective though, we rarely keep bananas in refrigerators). The chase sequence of an accused through the bylanes of Bombay (I guess the subsequent Mumbai can be characterised by mobile phones, packaged drinking-water bottles and Aaj Tak instead of Newstrack) is both hilarious and eye-opening - when a person's life is under threat, he(/she) finds reservoirs of energy which cannot be challenged just by the call of duty. Even the mysterious Dawood gets an opportunity to humanise, as to how he was influenced by the ISI. I guess the only parties who can walk away aggrieved is the ISI, and the kar-sevaks who brought down Babri Masjid (and subsequently caused the riots).
Aditya Srivastava (who plays Baadshah Khan) delivers the most nuanced performance. Kay Kay (Rakesh Maira) and Pawan Malhotra (Tiger) are as dependable as ever. Vijay Maurya plays Dawood Ibrahim, and he has an absolutely striking resemblance to the man, at least the way we know Dawood from his 80s photographs taken at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The other artists are also very apt in their roles, with the gang-coordinator in Jaipur standing out.
At a run time of close to two-and-a-half hours, the movie does tend to become laboured, especially in to the second half. Also, as it does not capture any one party's story, the audience can lose empathy at times. However, what works for the movie is a more universal format, and cinematic language. I might prefer our Rang De Basanti and Munnabhai, but Black Friday will have a better shot at the Oscars (I guess that's why Lagaan is such a brilliant effort). The music score by Indian Ocean is appropriately superb, especially the track Ruk Ja Re Bande played during the end-titles. The number pleads to 'stop the madness', and it took me on to my next haunt, Parzania.

1 comment:

Abhigyan said...

And pls do check out the ideal way one should feel about one's own work...
Excerpts from Anurag Kashyap's diary which he maintains on