Zaidi’s first book, Black Friday (Penguin, 2001) caused a paradigm shift in the narrative of non-fiction writing in India. The book is an investigative account of one of the first terror strikes in India, a precursor to all other terror attacks by so called fundamentalists and ultra-conservative Islamists.
Black Friday is an account of the March 1993 serial blasts that rocked Mumbai’s iconic buildings and spots — the Bombay Stock Exchange, Air India building, the Worli passport office, Sea Rock Hotel, the cloth market in south Mumbai, being the worst hit. The blasts killed 257 people and injured over 700 others. Tracking the events that led to the serial blasts and its aftermath, Black Friday revealed the conspiracy behind the attack and those who executed it. Published even before the verdict in the blasts trial was delivered, the book is considered a seminal work on investigative reportage. Reporters across the country too used the book as a ready reckoner for the blasts’ coverage. Black Friday went on to become a must-read on the art of investigative journalism in the syllabus of mass communication courses all over India.
Acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap translated the book into celluloid in the eponymous Black Friday. The movie created more ripples, and went on to establish Kashyap as one of Bollywood’s new-wave directors.
However, while the book had a smooth ride, the movie got stuck in the cans for a couple of years as a few accused filed a petition that it would prejudice their case. A division bench of the Bombay High Court subsequently stalled the movie release, observing that the since the book itself was so well researched and written only after thorough investigations, a movie based on such a book would be bound to influence the masses.
After the verdict on the 1993 blasts trial was delivered, not a single fact in Black Friday was challenged or disputed by the hundred-odd accused in the case. Black Friday, the movie, created more ripples, while the first time the movie sequences were seen straight lift from the chapters of the book, using even the names.