BLACK FRIDAY
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

words, so what then is the value of a movie?
An infinite number of words? I raise this point
because writer-director Anurag Kashyap's
motion picture
BLACK FRIDAY remains
banned in India while the book upon which it
is based -- S. Hussein Zaidi has been in print
for more than four years. So if someone can
go to a bookstore and purchase the book and
read it, why then can they not go to a movie
theater, purchase a ticket and watch a very
well-made adaptation of the same material?

I've read that it has something to do with the
legal trials that are still winding their way
through the courts some 14 -- that's right
FOURTEEN years after the incidents depicted
in both the book and the film. Some of the
figures involved also remain at large and
perhaps there is some fear that the film will
taint their court proceedings -- assuming
these men are ever caught and brought to
justice. For whatever reason, audiences in
India and the United States finally had a
chance to see
BLACK FRIDAY.

Tensions between Muslims and Hindus can be
traced back centuries but the matters really
were exacerbated by colonialism. As with any
sect, the more radical practitioners have
twisted the core beliefs to suit their need.
BLACK FRIDAY details events that grew out
of the Bombay Riots of 1992 and 1993 during
which Hindus demolished the Babri Mosque in
December which spurred Muslims to riot and
the deaths of Hindu workers in the Dongri
section of Bombay in January which led to
Hindus rioting. Many hundreds of people died,
properties were damaged, and unspeakable
violence was meted out all in the name of
religion.

Much as a certain Saudi named Osama
bin-Laden would issue a jihad against
American interests (recall that the first
attacks on the World Trade Center also
occurred in 1993), a cadre of Muslims led by
Dawood Ibrahim (portrayed chillingly in the
film by Vijay Maurya) -- and who reputedly
has ties to bin-Laden and al-Qeda -- and
Tiger Memon (Pavan Malhotra) among others,
crafted and executed a plan to set off
numerous bombs around the city which form
the core of the story for the film.

But Kashyap's film is much more ambitious in
its scope. He skillfully moves the action back
and forth between the police investigation led
by Rakesh Maria (Kay Kay Menon), the
recruitment and training of those involved,
many of whom lost family or friends in the
riots, and the actual unfolding of the events
on the fateful day of March 12, 1993 --
BLACK
FRIDAY
.

There's a lot of material covered in the film
and its structure of flashbacks and flashbacks
within flashbacks requires an audience to pay
careful and close attention. But Kashyap
keeps the action moving and the overall
movie turns out to be engrossing and detailed.

He and cinematographer Nataraja
Subramanian have created a palette that
ranges from shooting the police interrogation
and torture sequences with blood red filters
to the natural beauty of the landscape of rural
India as some of the participants in the
events are on the run. One particular
conspirator Badshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava)
receives a great deal of screen time as the
audience sees him on the run and the psychic
toll that it takes on him. There is one scene
where he is told that shedding blood is wrong
and the words appear to take root and gnaw
at his conscience but a long time passes
before they take root.

I would imagine that for Indian audiences this
film is akin to the various American-made
movies about the attacks on the World Trade
Center, whether they be the TV movies
PATH
TO POWER
or FLIGHT 93 or the feature films
UNITED 93 or WORLD TRADE CENTER.
Although some were not willing to embrace
these works, they did make it to the
marketplace and those who did see them
were rewarded with quality work.

Rating:                B+
Running time:       143 mins.

Viewed at the ImaginAsian