Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Wednesday

Trust Bollywood to take an original, innovative script and ruin it (well, almost) with over-dramatization & overacting. ‘A Wednesday’ is a case in point.

It’s a story of a common man, a Mumbaikar in this case, who has had enough of being the victim of bomb blasts in different parts of the country and wants retribution….because he thinks it’s unfair that it’s the common man who becomes the sacrificial lamb in the war between religions. He is sick of living his life in fear & uncertainty. He thinks there is no reason why he should be worried about the safety of his family members when they step out of home. He should not feel afraid to travel by bus or train in his own country. He is appalled that the government we elect to take care of us is powerless in front of terrorists & only reacts to gruesome acts of terrorism such as bomb blasts by condemning the blasts, sending out condolence messages & praising the famed “spirit” of the people. He bemoans the fact that the pulverized police force gets down on bended knees when it comes to implementing an effective counter-terror policy. He is saddened even more by the fact that the common man has become “used to” terrorist attacks & the loss of lives they entail, and “adjusts” to them & to the apathy of the government. And he thinks it’s about time that the common man shakes himself out of his slumber & gives it back to the terrorists as good as he got. How he goes about doing this is the material of this story.

The story is unique because we haven’t seen anything like this in Indian cinema before, and it is only befitting that the director got Naseeruddin Shah to play the protagonist. Needless to say, Naseeruddin Shah has done a marvelous job of playing a man who packs sandwiches & a flask of tea, buys vegetables for his home, tells his wife he will be home soon & that even if he gets irritated with her for calling him every couple of hours to check whether he has had his lunch & to ask him to run errands, he has the entire city of nameless, faceless people to vent his frustration on, and gets down to the business of sending the police force of Mumbai on a wild bomb chase, with precision. His monologue in the climax is spine-chilling! Absolute knock-out!!

The other pivotal actors including Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill & Aamir Bashir too have done a good job.

The things I liked about the movie were:
  • It's less than 2 hours including the intermission
  • It does not lose it's edginess or pace at any point, thanks to the short length
  • The performances, especially the face-off between Naseeruddin Shah & Anupam Kher
  • The fact that there were no songs in the movie, not even an "item" song!!
  • The story was completely original & had no similarities to any movie we've seen before, except a couple of take-offs from Die Hard 4.0 here & there
  • That it was shot completely in Mumbai
  • It highlights the role that the media CAN play when there is a terror threat in the city, rather than creating unnecessary panic among people
  • The fact that the protagonists's name is never revealed to prevent any allusions to religion, and to emphasize the fact that he is an Indian first & a Hindu or a Muslim later

The movie makes jibes at every organization right from the media to the police to the government. It does not even spare the common people for having become accepting of terror attacks as a way of life.

What I didn't like about the movie were the lame title (A Wednesday?) - though there was some justification for it, it wasn't convincing enough, the background score which was too loud & jarring at places, and the overdramatization which made it look like a typical Bollywood movie.

Overall, the movie is a slick, racy thriller with a reasonably high IQ. The script was so strong that it had the potential of becoming an understatedly impactful thriller along the lines of Hollywood thrillers. The Bollywoodization not withstanding, 'A Wednesday' is definitely worth a watch.


Anil P said...

Good to read this. Saw Mumbai Meri Jaan recently, loose despite the excellent photography.

I can imagine Naseeruddin Shah fitting into this role.

Scarlett said...

I missed Mumbai Meri Jaan but want to watch it.