'Black Friday' depicts Mumbai deadly blasts


NEW DELHI -- "Black Friday," a controversial film that depicts the bombings that struck the Indian financial capital of Mumbai in 1993, killing more than 250 people and wounding 700, is due to be released today after a two-year, court-ordered embargo.

The film is handled by leading Mumbai-based distributor Adlabs Films. COO Sunir Khetarpal said the film will also open in the U.S. today "starting with about 10 prints."

"Black Friday," directed by Anurag Kashyap, is based on the book of the same name by S. Hussein Zaidi, a journalist with Mumbai newspaper Mid-Day who documented how the blasts were masterminded by Mumbai's Muslim underworld, allegedly with the help of Pakistan's secret service agency.

The Mumbai blasts were seen as a reaction to the demolition of a 4-century-old mosque allegedly by a large mob of Hindu extremists in the city of Ayodhya in central India in December 1992. The mosque was located at a site claimed by Hindu extremists as the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama where they wanted to build a new temple.

The demolition was immediately followed by communal riots in Mumbai that killed more than 1,000 people, an incident that further fueled the planning of the blasts.

Ready for release since 2004, "Black Friday" was embroiled in a court case that led to a Supreme Court order restraining the film's release until a specially organized agency investigating the blasts had delivered its final verdict 12 years after the tragedy.

Most of the verdicts have been delivered since December -- convicting more than 100 people -- paving the way for the film's release.

In an interview, Kashyap said: "This is a realistic film that is a definite break from the norm of what is expected of Indian cinema. There was a lot of in-depth research required before we started shooting."

The film features actor Pavan Malhotra as Tiger Memon, the alleged mastermind of the blasts, who is still at large.

"Black Friday" is produced by Mid-Day Multimedia, a division of the Mid-Day newspaper group whose managing director, Tariq Ansari, said: "When the book came out, leading to interest in the film, we decided to produce it ourselves given the importance and enormity of the Mumbai blasts, which had a huge impact on the city in all respects."

While the film awaited its official release, "Black Friday" traveled the international festival circuit and garnered favorable reviews.