Watching 'Black Friday'Anurag Kashyap must be a slightly happy man. One out (but not down) and some more to go. His little bright toddler, Black Friday, is out. Paanch, one fears, is growing up to become a bitter and angry adolescent. All these kids want to do first is to be able to come out. Then play with the other kids. Perhaps others will call them ugly and poor. But let them not become bitter without experiencing a moment of sunshine.
Like every self-respecting "good film" watcher, I had seen the bootleg version of the film and keenly anticipated the release. So went to make contribution to the Anurag Kashyap appreciation fund (as Samrat termed it). Hanging out at a local multiplex, waiting for Samrat and his wife, I saw a poster of "Black Friday" from a distance. Hanging upside down. A little burst of anger surged. Took it as a sign of callousness on part of the 'plex. Typical, one thought. Closer inspection. "This is not a mistake! We're crazy" said a sign on top. Smiles around.
The good news for those who've seen the circulated version on their PCs: there are several additional sequences in the film. The slightly bad news: the film seems a little long. Not unwieldy though, but just too long. The 2 hours print seen earlier seemed taut and precise. The Indian release, however, covers the entire book's scope (adding sequences about the landings, more on Dawood's - still a shadowy figure - involvement, and Tiger's immediate provocations in the pre-blast riots.)
What the film also does is further blast to smithereens the roof that conceals Hindi filmdom's underbelly, revealing a set of wonderful actors who have no place in sunny-side-up "Bollywood" (a term which I use pejoratively, of course). It's been a while since Satya that one saw a solid ensemble put together, whose business is not to strut about but merely to inhabit and exist in four dimensions.
Introspecting about the film, Kashyap wonders whether he's succeeded in his efforts at making a "necessary film" that will kindle self-debate in the minds of the watcher. Judging by reactions in the theatre, I'm pessimistic about this. For, like some of my experiences before, I heard people laugh at many of the wrong places. What excites laughter during a tense interrogation scene or when someone's being ripped apart or just merely hearing expletives? Does the director expect to hear laughter at these points? Does the audience let him down? Have they been weaned on a different cinematic diet? These questions always puzzle me.
In the end, the plug. Go watch "Black Friday". In a theatre. It's worth your time and money. God Promise. (And while you're at it, read S. Hussain Zaidi's book too.)