KARNATAKA

Realism at its best

Kay Kay Menon in Black Friday  

Black Friday (Hindi)

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Srivastava, Pavan Malhotra, Vijay MauryaFor everyone who has waited two years to see Black Friday, here is the good news: it is well worth the wait.

For everybody else, here is the heads up: Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday, which follows the investigation into the 1993 Bombay blasts, is one of the finest Indian films of recent years.

Fascinating puzzle

Based on a book by journalist S. Hussain Zaidi, Kashyap's masterpiece is a grand, fascinating puzzle that he meticulously pieces together much like the original investigation itself.

Switching between the perspectives of investigating officer Rakesh Maria (Kay Kay Menon), gangsters Dawood Ibrahim (Vijay Maurya) and Tiger Memon (Pavan Malhotra) and one of their pawns in the game Badshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava), the film makes excellent use of a non-linear storytelling style, creating a mosaic of emotions and details that a more traditional storytelling could not have managed.

Powerful

What makes the film so powerful is that it is able to get under the skin of every side of this tussle without condoning anyone's actions. This empathy gives the film layers and memorable moments that would not have existed if it had taken sides.

As absorbing as Maria's disgust over torturing suspects and their families is, Badshah's anger and frustration at being trapped in a country full of policemen following his trail with a burning hunger is far more powerful. And the final chapter (titled The Past Is Just A Prologue) that slots the preceding Babri Masjid riots in the same horrifying space as the bombing helps the film rise up to the sphere of the political instead of remaining a simple chronicle of the investigation.

In an industry dominated by star power, Black Friday is also a wonderful testament to the power of a dedicated team, no matter how under the radar it might be.

For instance, at nearly three hours, the film could easily have been rendered unbearable if not for the superb editing by Aarti Bajaj.

Another factor that works brilliantly is the cinematography by Nataraja Subramaniam, who coats much of the film in stark shades of red, yellow and brown to give it a gritty, realistic feel that is heightened by the use of grainy archival footage.

Punch

The music by Indian Ocean adds to the punch of the film, and by the time the band performs their popular song "Bande", one almost has goose bumps.

And every last member of the cast of almost unknown faces delivers a hard-hitting performance that drives straight to the heart.