Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bombay & Not Mumbai

I saw Black Friday last evening. I love Kay Kay. And, I died for Satya. Both these reasons made Paanch (unreleased) and Black Friday my most eagerly awaited movies for the last few years. So, it would be a lie if I said I went in without any expectations. Plus I'm this great sucker for the underdog and to my mind Anurag Kashyap had been through more than his share of financial and emotional ordeal on both these movies. With such faith in my heart I ventured in.

The first 30 minutes of the movie are rivetting. I had goose pimples and my mind rejoiced, the wait had been worth it.

From then on, I tried to love the movie...I really tried.

Black Friday, Bombay's greatest folly and, also, its loftiest feat as the world saw that you could shake bombay but not kill its the media led us to believe.
After all characters of cities are surely determined by sterotypes media accentuates and personailities we want to endow ourselves with. Kashyap scores there. He does not give in to that stereotype. He breaks the cliche where the dark remains the dark. Bombay does what any city would have done...lets time lead its own course.

At some level, I also feel that the years in the can took their toll on the originality of its film making.
Over the years, many films have come out which show Bombay in its stark reality, a land of "bhais' who speak less and do lots, of a police force which is street smart and surprisingly works, of a "hero" police squad thats maverick enough to lend itself to cinematic proportions, of a background scores that hauntingly similar to the landscape of the movie.

So, whats new?

The fact that when the news reporter on a news channel recounts the horror of the blasts it does not seem as if shes enjoying her day under the sun. The commentary is precise, neutral and not delivered to sensationalise.

Dubai is not only the land of the D but, D is home

Dawood is Dawood, Advani is Advani and yes, kashyap shows his guts when Thackeray is Thackeray

So, why did I try to love the movie?

You know when you're working on excel and you put one formula too many at the wrong place, theres a pop up which tells you that you've put a circular reference. Thats my take on the movie. Its a 3 hr movie which goes round and round around the same pivot.

Its a docu drama approach that does not want to pass judgement. Give it like it happened. However, in empathising with all sides of the story, justifications and reason do crop up.

So we pan in to the blasts, pan out to the terrorist team, pan in again to the unresolved feelings of a minority community, pan out again to the chasm that exists between the one who directs to the one who finally does.

Brilliant, till now.

But, Kashyap doesn't leave it at that. He takes us back to the Babri Masjid, the cheering by the hindutwa brigade infront of a TV, dialogue play on the might of Islam and the persecution of muslims. You would assume a certain level of consciousness in the audience of such a movie and that would be reason enough to trust them with open ended thoughts.

Its too clinical. Though there are moments where protagonists vent their angst, the angst is not really shown or is possibly subdued.

Kay Kay drops his head into a bucket of water to rid himself of the angst he feels when he sees suspects being tortured. Aditya Srivastava cries, hollers, flys into fits of rage to vent his frustration. All the scenes are there. The characters are painstakingly built. But, wheres the angst? Limited inter personal emotional interactions are possibly responsible for this.

Its funny that the one place where the angst is tangible, where the connect happens is the scene that has the audience chuckling in empathy.

The police squad ends up chasing an extremely agile member of the terrorist gang for a good 10 minutes all around Bombay's slums. At the end of it all, the terrorist and police thulla chasing him are so tired that they are almost struggling to walk. The thulla pleads with the terrorist "abe ruk ja, bas kar ab". One short line of plain talking to each other and the angst flows.

Black Friday is a courageous attempt. The intention more than makes up for any limitations the movie has. As a book lover I have always been part of many a conversations around "the movie does not do justice to the book" debate. This is one movie, where even though I haven't read Zaidi's book, I know, that that debate, would be redundant.

This ones for a city that changed names and names that went on to change history.


Lynn said...

You MUST read the book. I haven't seen the movie because I've read the book and nothing can top a book. After your review, I think I'll give this one a miss. Is Guru worth seeing? I read a review yesterday which described it as a 'con' job.

svety said...

No no lynn..don't give it a miss..see it and let me know if I was the review here

rayshma said...

tried getting d DVD... wasn't available... guess i'll have to download it to get a peek! have read the book, but wanna see this one.

Abhigyan said...

I get your point..The movie, using the documentary approach, does ten to get impersonal...Yet for me, it works..If I ever have to make a movie, I guess I will follow the same methodology..So you see that's why...

aquabot said...

Tell me where to get the dvd of that in New Jersey...or do you have any rapidshare link to get it here from net..?