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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Black Friday - Review

By Rampalli Srinivas

A feature film documenting real incidents is like a twin edged sword both for its makers and performers. Make it a little too realistic, it will end up like a documentary and put in a little too much drama and it loses its authenticity. It becomes that much more difficult if you are making this film in India against an additional barrier of its legal system and politically correct censorship. Also throw in the chance of a life threat from one or more of the players behind the conspiracy.

If a film maker decides to risk all these and make such a film what else can you call it but one of the most important chapters in the annals of Indian cinema. It is cinema at its starkest with extremely believable recreation of the actual incidents. I strongly believe this movie has turned a new leaf in Indian cinema and paved way for many such efforts in the future. No words can be enough to describe this gutsy effort by a young film maker like Anurag Kashyap. He showed the guts to take up such a project and has executed it with a vice like grip on the audience starting from the first scene.

The only flaw I can point is that the length of the episode showcasing the travails of Badhshah Khan, in an attempt to escape the police through various places in India. However, he deserves some slack in this regard for the simple reason that this is the episode which contributes the most towards making his effort into a movie and not a documentary.

It greatly helps that this film has a cast comprising of very few recognizable faces and among them are Kay Kay Menon, Pawan Malhotra and Aditya Srivastava, who just melt into their roles in such a fashion that you only see their characters. Cinematography is extremely good with innovative lighting schemes and the manner in which the camera follows the characters through the slums and bylanes of Mumbai is spellbounding.

The casting idea reminded me of Paul Greengrass's United 93. The narration without taking sides reminded me of Steven Spielberg's Munich. However, it needs to be mentioned that this film was made before either of the above two (it was lying in the cans waiting for the courts to clear it!). The camerawork through the slums of Mumbai reminded me of Fernando Meirelle's Cidade De Deus (City of God).

For someone awaiting an Indian movie of international standards, this one is like an oasis in the desert. It is my wholehearted plea to everyone wishing international recognition for Indian cinema - Please go watch this movie!

Rampalli Srinivas is a guest blogger at Gudem.