How life changed after that Friday

PIECING THE PUZZLE S. Hussain Zaidi, a scene from the film and the book

PIECING THE PUZZLE S. Hussain Zaidi, a scene from the film and the book  

S. HUSSAIN ZAIDI, the man who penned the book on which Anurag Kashyap's film "Black Friday" is based, talks about how the book came about and life after the great exposure

It is not often that one finds a writer who is almost self-deprecatory. But then S. Hussain Zaidi is not your average writer — recluse, highbrow, conceited. As he puts it, modest but accurate, "I cannot afford to be arrogant. I just happened to write a book. It did not start off as a book in the first place. A long research gave shape to `Black Friday'. And because it has been made into a film, it is being talked about. Otherwise it would have been forgotten long ago."Zaidi, a Mumbai-based crime reporter-turned-author, pieced together the jigsaw puzzle of the Bombay serial blasts of Friday, March 12, 1993. What was initially supposed to be a project of six weeks extended to four years as he tried to comprehend the blasts that brought the commercial capital, from the Bombay Stock Exchange to the Centaur hotel, virtually to a standstill. The conclusive research pointed a finger at several police officers, politicians and many other senior functionaries of the government, who, if they had been alert, could have saved the lives of hundreds of people who died in the blasts.

Kashyap's film

It was supposed to be made into a TV series before the producers realised that it would yield better fruit if a film was made on the subject. Thus came about Anurag Kashyap's film, Black Friday.The film was initially held back following a petition in the Supreme Court that it might impede a fair hearing or result. Now that it has been released, everybody is talking of the blasts, and the book behind the film. So, a bit of candour and a dash of ego would not be out of place? Not quite, if you answer to the name of Zaidi. "I am a slow writer. I take three to four years to write a book. As far as `Black Friday' is concerned, I am proud of the research but frankly not happy with the language and presentation. I am embarrassed by the book."Says Zaidi, "I have no idea how well it has been received in the market, though I do know that it has done reasonably well." What he does know, and remember, is there has never been a shortage of threats ever since he hit upon startling facts, nailing the lie of the blasts. "I never got discouraged by threats. People followed me. Someone once called in Urdu saying, ` Zaidi Sahab, qaum se ghaddari nahin karo. Why do you want to ruin your future? Your kid is two years old'. But I was fearless. I said, if you want to come and hit me, here I am. My wife was not too affected, but even she went through paranoia. My parents were really concerned. All along, I had enemies but I also had friends."However, Zaidi, not yet 40, is no one-trick pony, or a guy constantly living the past. "Now `Black Friday' is behind me. I am working on my second book. It will be a piece of non-fiction. I do believe my new subject is a glamorous one, one on which no book has yet been written." For once, he allows himself a frank moment. Otherwise, he is just self-effacing, whether he talks of the first book that he dubs "an experiment" or the second that he calls "true test." "Well, the success of `Black Friday' has made my name identifiable. Otherwise, I am like that boy who ran to the border during a war to avoid shelling. He was saved because the soldiers ran out of fire. He got a Param Vir Chakra whereas actually he was merely saving his life."ZIYA US SALAM

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