I remember meeting Anurag Kashyap at a film festival in Gurgaon in 2006.
This was before the times of social media, but the man had gained quite some attention for himself.
As someone who had been fighting for the release of his debut film Paanch for a long time, he was equally frustrated about the fate of his film Black Friday.
The writer of classics like Satya, Shool, Nayak and Yuva deserved to find a film of his own hit the screens as well.
As a young man who had invested quite a lot in making his dream come true, it all came with a purpose and a reason.
When I revisited the film on Amazon Prime Video, I realised why.
I had found Black Friday brilliant even though I had already seen it on February 9, 2007, when it had released.
The narrative style was something that audiences were not familiar with back in time, and hence it found limited box office returns coming its way.
But it was a different experience altogether when I watched the film again.
Truly, it was way ahead of its time.
2007 saw some of the biggest money-spinners — Om Shanti Om, Welcome, Partner, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Namastey London, Ta Ra Rum Pum.
There were offbeat films that did well too — Chak De! India, Taare Zameen Par, Guru.
But these films had names like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Abhishek Bachchan/Aishwarya Rai attached to it with the likes of Yash Raj Films and Mani Ratnam backing them up.
Anurag Kashyap had Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra and Aditya Srivastava at his disposal.
Brilliant actors, but unfortunately, not the kind whom he could plaster on posters and sell his film.
Revisiting the film made me respect Anurag Kashyap’s choices all over again.
It was his sheer conviction that he could make Pawan Malhotra his central protagonist (Tiger Memon, who orchestrated the Mumbai blasts), Kay Kay Menon as the investigation officer (Rakesh Maria) and Aditya Srivastava (Badshah Khan, the terrorist who turned approver).
With the film telling the stories from the perspective of these three characters, Anurag Kashyap had a task in hand.
More so since he had to pick exhaustive material that was available to him, the biggest contributor being S Hussain Zaidi’s book Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, and spin a narrative that was pretty much in a docudrama mode but with enough thrills, chills and action.
He does succeed in doing that in a big way, most notably due to the razor sharp editing pattern adopted by Aarti Bajaj.
Narrating the film as a series of chapters with the story going back and forth, Bajaj bookends the film with the blasts and packs in enough content in this near three hour affair that you end up asking for more.
Kashyap and Bajaj take you behind the scenes and show the cause behind the attacks, without mincing any words.
One has to give it to Arindam Mitra of Mid-Day to have backed up this subject, and that too in a time when censorship could stall a movie for years, something that did happen for Black Friday.
Anurag Kashyap made sure he packed every episode with innovative cinematography, immersive sound design, an amazing background score (Indian Ocean). You can’t help but applaud it.
As for the famed ‘first major appearances’ of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Imtiaz Ali, Vijay Maurya, Gajraj Rao, Savi Sidhu, the late Ashraful Haque, Zakir Hussain, Pankaj Jha, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Asif Basra and more, then you have to only compliment the man at the hot seat to have an eye for talent.
With so much of detailing going into each of the peripheral characters as well, and that too in a feature film format, I believe Black Friday has the kind of content that is far more suited for a Web series version.
Perhaps Anurag Kashyap could revisit it and make it all over again for an OTT platform.
Watch Black Friday on Amazon Prime Video.
Cinema entertains, exhilarates and enlightens.
Its ability to relate and inform the viewer through universal, timeless emotions are what contributes to its legacy, now available more easily than ever, for generations to follow.
Some films are a product of its time.
Some telling of man’s reluctance for change and making the same mistakes over and over again.
Some films grow glorious with every passing viewing.
Some are overlooked gems in search of an appreciative audience.
Discover our series designed to acquaint our young, enthusiastic cinephile to the wonders of Indian film-making.
We revisit and recommend some of our most beloved, undiscovered or under-rated favourites that should be seen and savoured:
- Gabhricha Paus
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- Kumbalangi Nights
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