A fact-based procedural whose drama gets lost amid its analytical detail, "Black Friday" is an honorable attempt to carve a movie out of one of India's most shocking examples of religious terrorism, the Mumbai bombings of March 12, 1993. Based on the 2002 book by journalist S. Hussain Zaidi, well-cast pic will appeal to specialized auds already tuned into the subject-matter but has limited theatrical chances offshore.

A fact-based procedural whose drama gets lost amid its analytical detail, “Black Friday” is an honorable attempt to carve a movie out of one of India’s most shocking examples of religious terrorism, the Mumbai bombings of March 12, 1993. Based on the 2002 book by journalist S. Hussain Zaidi, well-cast pic will appeal to specialized auds already tuned into the subject-matter but has limited theatrical chances offshore. A longer TV version is being mulled.

Billed as “the true story of the Bombay blasts,” film graphically depicts the serial explosions that rocked the city, killing almost 300 people, before segueing into chapters (“Arrests and Interrogation,” “The Conspiracy,” etc.) that detail the planning, execution and aftermath. Attack was carried out by Islamic militants, coordinated by Tiger Memon (Pawan Malhotra), in reprisal for Hindu mobs’ destruction of a mosque in Ayodhya the previous December; but despite its large cast and complex criss-crossing from past to present, the movie rarely catches fire as an involving human drama. Leads are fine, with Kay Kay Menon adding some star luster as the ruthless investigating cop, and tech credits pro, especially Aarti Bajaj’s brisk editing.

Black Friday

India

Production

A Jhamu Sughand presentation of a Mid-Day Film & Television production. (International sales: Golden Network Asia, Hong Kong.) Produced by Arindam Mitra. Co-producer, Sanjaay Routray. Directed, written by Anurag Kashyap, based on the book by S. Hussain Zaidi. Associate director, Rajkumar Gupta.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), N. Nataraja Subramanian; editor, Aarti Bajaj; music, Indian Ocean; lyrics, Piyush Mishra; production designer, Wasiq Khan. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 12, 2004. (Also in Pusan and Hamburg film festivals.) Hindi dialogue. Running time: 171 MIN.

With

Kay Kay Menon, Pawan Malhotra, Aditya Srivastava.
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