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Black Friday – a movie review

February 10, 2007

This film is a brilliant cinematic portrayal of the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai which killed 257 people and injured over 1,000 people. The film is based on a book by the same name and talks of actual people and events – the reason why the film was delayed until the legal battle was over. Anurag Kashyap, the director gives you get all the answers here. How the blasts happened. Why they happened. And who carried them out.

It must have been a difficult film to make as there were hundreds of people involved in the blasts, they had different motivations, and it was not just the terrorists, but the police who were guilty too. Guilty of ignoring intelligence reports, taking bribes to let the RDX through and then during the investigation not hesitating to use torture to get suspects to talk. The film explores the reasons why some of the main characters did what they did and the setting is very real. The director manages to recreate Mumbai in 1993…there were no cell phones or satellite television(they actually showed the video news magazine Newstrack!) and the cars on the road were Maruti 1000′s. Mumbai today is a vastly different world. Yet, the film was shot on the streets of Mumbai. The director has said in an interview that quite a few of the scenes of the city were shot with hidden cameras to get the real feel of the city.

The actors lived up to the realism portrayed by the director. Everyone played their parts very well. Kaykay Menon plays the investigating officer Rakesh Maria, Pawan Malhotra plays Tiger Memon who masterminds the blasts, and Aditya Srivastava plays Badshah Khan, the terrorist who decides to talk. Vijay Maurya has a small role as Dawood Ibrahim but does a very eeyrie and fantastic representation of Dawood. The others who were involved in the blasts were Yakub Memon (Imtiaz), Yeda Yakub (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), Javed Chikna (Arbaaz Ali Khan) and Anwar Theba (Pankaj Jha).

I would not classify this film as entertainment though. Although it is dramatic and moves fast, it has a documentary feel to it. There is no protagonist and the movie moves from one character to another, from scene to flashback, flashback to scene, from village to city, from city to city, from India to Dubai to Pakistan and back. It gets a little confusing at times. The flashbacks specially. One has to concentrate. It is important not to miss the dialogues either. Like any detective flick, if one misses one link in the chain, the next scene makes less sense.
There are no songs and no dances. This is a different kind of Bollywood thriller.
The film has a lot of gory scenes. Rivers of blood, flesh torn out, ghastly expressions, dead bodies, and at times the scenes of torture make you feel like vomiting. Certainly not a movie for kids.
Although Black Friday is not entertainment, the film is worth seeing for those interested in finding out how terrorists think and why they do what they do. This reasoning is delivered a bit simplistically ofcourse. In a film there is less time and a lot to tell, unlike in a book. However I still felt that the film was a little too long. Three hours of this is too long.
The message of the film is delivered subtly but comes through clearly. Violence is not just evil, against God, but also needless. It is said more than once that Allah does not support those who kill innocents.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Vinod permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:21 pm

    I saw this movie finally. God…it was long. And yes, I’m glad they had no songs. I also felt that the dramatizations were deliberately played down at times – took away the reality a bit, just a bit. Stressful situations will not let a person remain calm and cool in the manner they talk. There were scenes showing the investigating police officer suffering tensions of conscience in the manner in which investigatons are conducted. That was a good thing to show. Too many names were thrown in. I had to simply summarize it as ‘this man was connected to that’ and continue watching and making sense. I don’t think I’ll recommend this movie though. It’s too long. Goddammit, it should have been cut down to 2 hours max.

  2. Vinod permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:38 pm

    I know of NGOs working on submiting draft legislation for police reform. I believe the police in India are thuggish. Terrorism, despite needing dire measures, does not justify the general brutishness of the police that is characteristic of them even in petty crimes. Torture is torture, terrorism or no terrorism. It has to be battled against.

  3. Vinod permalink
    August 29, 2009 11:58 pm

    I have been among very religious muslims – they pray 5 times and more (there are a lot of supererogatory prayers besides the mandatory 5), fast in Ramadan and more ( there are supererogatory fasts outside Ramadan too) and avoid non-halal food like the plague. They are even pan-islamists in their thinking and support Jihad in principle. When I compared the kind of “jihadi” muslims shown in this movie with the kind I know, there is no comparison at all. The people I know are very strong in character, never abuse, never lie, speak very candidly, are very respectful of elders, never backbite; in short, they have impeccable personal conduct. The supposedly relgious and jihadi muslims shown in this movie, did not appear religious at all to me by character, although they knew the rhetoric of jihad.

  4. January 8, 2012 11:49 pm

    It’s not about just muslims. Both hindus and muslims are concerned here. Here it is shown in a journalistic way but not in a detail and dramatic way how religion drives a group of religious hindus into a sabotaging army of devils and few independent individual muslims into terrorists. A quote by MK Gandhi is delivered in the end of the movie:- An eye for an eye will make the world go blind.
    Only those muslims were turned terrorists who lost something in previous attacks. A religious terrorist is just a common liberal but under wrong guidance of those who use religion as a method to drive them crazy about vengeance. For religion makes bonds between individual terrorists, so as to provide them a single aim.
    How much the muslim world may try to hate Indians and Americans, they can never make as much weapons as America possess. But America made all those success because they educated their children. So why shouldn’t muslims educate their children? Why teaching them to hate other religions? Allah is not with those who are on the verge of revenge.

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