Friday March 12, 12:08 PM
'Black Friday is a bigger film than me'
By Udita Jhunjhunwala
Anurag Kashyap is an ‘outsider’. When the serial blasts happened in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, he was in Delhi. Yet, Kashyap feels at one with the victims of the blasts — enough to write the screenplay and direct the film.
The result: Black Friday. The film takes the viewer through the events that lead up to that fateful Friday, 11 years ago.
Based on the book by S Hussain Zaidi, presented by Jhamu Sughand, Black Friday is co-funded by Mid Day Multimedia Ltd. Mid Day speaks to Anurag Kashyap. Excerpts.
How did you get involved in Black Friday?
Aditya Bhattacharya called me one day and introduced me to the people from Mid Day. They told me that they wanted to do a film based on the book Black Friday by Hussain Zaidi. When I started reading it, I felt emotionally involved. I truly wondered what drove people to commit such heinous acts. I also stopped being judgmental. After I read the book not only did I want to write the screenplay, I wanted to direct it too.
Apart from the book, what other research did you do?
We had a research team that looked at all the documents, press clippings, photographs and other reference material. We had to redefine the time because we had to include 270 characters in the film. After we put things into perspective, we came up with the structure of the film.
And what is that structure?
We could have made it linear following the story and ended with the blasts. But then many links might have been missed out. So we start the film somewhere in the middle and the film ends where the investigation ends. That’s also where the conspiracy is established — just before the court case starts.
How did you recreate 1993?
That was very difficult because it was pre-liberalisation. There was no Coke, Pepsi, cell phones, or the number of foreign cars you see today. Esteem was the new car then. There were no hoardings of Star or Orange. In that sense, yes, this is a period film. That’s why you’ll see lots of top angles and straight shots. We had to go wide to bring in the city.
You are not from Mumbai, so could you empathise with the story and the victims?
I am from Delhi yes, but I wrote Satya, which was also about Mumbai. That was a film made by outsiders. Every time an outsider makes a film, they see things others can’t see. They bring in objectivity. You have to have a journalistic approach to something like this; you can’t take sides.
Was it difficult shooting Black Friday?
The camera went to places it hasn’t been before. We used 140 locations, shot for 70 days over four-and-a-half months. We shot in 10 cities in four countries with a cast of 270 characters.
We’ve shot in Dongri, the Bombay Stock Exchange, airport, the Air-India building and other blast sites in the city. We’ve also shot in Delhi, Tonk, Jaipur and Dubai. We shot some portions with hidden cameras because we did not want to stage-manage the locations.
We recreated the Worli and Bombay Stock Exchange blasts, complete with bomb squads and fire engines. We have used some special effects for the blast scenes, which are being done by Digital Arts and Media (Koi Mil Gaya, Devdas).
What kind of support did you receive from the producers?
Jhamu Sughand and Mid Day are big names and they’ve trusted and supported me. One pat on the back from Jhamuji after a scene means a lot.
He’s one of the biggest and most powerful producers the industry (Bombay, Lagaan, Rangeela, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and if he is ‘presenting’ Black Friday I know he’ll draw in crowds. And Mid Day’s understanding of the city and the city’s trust for the paper helped a great deal.
What is the status of the film now?
We’ve finished editing and are now doing the sound design and the background score. The film has been completed on schedule because of the artists and the crew. I think it’s been a great partnership. They have worked in difficult conditions.
They’ve worked when the sea was rough; they’ve trekked uphill for 45 minutes, run up a hill with the wind lambasting them… I think this was possible because we had no stars, but a strong ensemble of actors like Kay Kay, Pawan Malhotra and Aditya Srivastava.
You’ve made Paanch and Gulaal, but Black Friday will probably be your first release. What do you feel?
Black Friday is a bigger film than me. It’s a Mid Day, Jhamu Sughand film, not an Anurag Kashyap film. And it’s a great way to begin.