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Mirroring political scene

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Black Friday
Black Friday

NILOSREE BISWAS

Among political films, `Black Friday' stands apart.

"The possibility of making a new cinema completely outside the system depends on whether or not filmmakers can transform themselves from `directors' into total filmmakers." — Fernando Solanas Partially lit up police station, an interrogating police officer, a man in torment, an array of questions... and it's the opening sequence of the most talked about film in recent times. `Black Friday' commercially released last Friday brings back the resonance of politically charged up cinema, a genre that was omnipresent in the 1970s till the late '80s.The likes of `Kolkata 71,' `Garam Hawa,' `Ardh Satya,' `Damul,' and `Salim Langde Pe Mat Roh' took a back seat in the early 1990s. It was given to understand that films that talk about social stratification and prevalent disparities had lost their importance as cinema probably is not the medium to discuss and call for a protest... it is entertainment, it is a form where you position `self' into a world of apparent bliss.

Patronage

Political cinema, at a global level, had found patronage when there had been incidents that shook the social matrix and had been acknowledged as the story telling medium that had either documented the incident per se or has made an analysis afterwards. Cuba topped the list along with Hungary, Poland and erstwhile band of South American countries. Germany, Denmark with tremendously subtle understanding of the social inequity reflected through filmmakers like Fassbinder and Lars von Trier also added to the repository.From `Stachka' (1924) or Strike, followed by `The Man with Movie Camera,' (1929) documentary `The Salt of the Earth' (1953) about a strike in New Mexico indicated that political incidents disturb and ignite reactions in filmmakers.

`On the face stand'

In films of such kind, incidents are finally just an element. But having said so political cinema needed the much required `on the face stand' and that finally happened in the 1968 `La Hora de los hornos... - The Hour of the Furnaces.' This was the film that shook audiences across the world. From the style in which the film was shot to the music tracks, `The Hour of Furnaces' remains a cult film till date. That political cinema is not a mere bulletin board was the clear message. Fernando Solanas, the director, is best remembered as an activist filmmaker whose cult film had made the world sit up. On the other hand communist society of Cuba and Hungary had filmmakers like Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Istvan Szabo. Szabo and Alea compelled audiences to look at the socialist society from an extremely objective yet personal perspective. While `Memories of Underdevelopment' remains one of the most talked about personal political cinema of our times, `Budapest' becomes the highlight of a complex ideology that many globally had refused after initial celebration.Back home the ground was ready with `Garam Hawa' releasing in 1973. Sathyu attempted to portray a chunk of our history that had literally touched everyone but had been put on the back burner. The same year Ghatak's film, "Titas Ekti Nadir Naam," was released. Partition and the understanding of the existing sub-culture of the majority and minority populations came to the fore. While Sathyu's film had personal trauma as the focus with the backdrop of partition, Ghatak's film was more on community. Emergency, post 1977, Operation Blue Star, several political crises along with rising abject poverty and underdevelopment, cinema of a different kind was growing. With `Salim Langde Pe Mat Roh,' `Damul' and `New Delhi Times,' political themes grew stronger. But the early '90s saw a sea-change... India shining process somewhere had begun and with that phase, somehow the national psyche sidelined the crisis of `Salim Langda... ' or `Sanjeevan.' This is why `Black Friday' stands apart. After two decades, here's a film that has blown the lid off pent up creative emotions that affected people's lives on March 12, 1993.The movie based on the book of the same title looks at the Mumbai blast from a myriad layers of tension and trauma that the incident ignited. What's significant, is that with `Black Friday' the cinema of the ordinary comes back into limelight after a long time. A Badshah Khan, a Chikna, a Bashir Khan all surface again... Nawapada, Beharampara are back on map. A Tiger Memon also is back, though there's reasonably a linear understanding of why he hatched a blueprint of vengeance. `Black Friday' is a film that should happen.


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