(It is probably too late to write this review, as the movie was released quite a while ago. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of reviewing it; and doing a little advertising for the movie, just in case, someone didn’t watch it yet!)
It’s rare that you feel a sense of completion after you see a movie. I have always believed that the easiest way to judge a movie is to see what you feel once it is over. You know, there was ‘Sivaji’- which made you feel empty, ‘Dasavatharam’- that made you marvel at Kamal’s talents, ‘Mozhi’- that made you feel happy about life, that filled you with hope and told you that the world is a happy place, whatever our problems, ‘TZP’- which woke you to the world of children, and made you want to do something for them.
And there is this amazing movie I saw yesterday- (quite surprisingly, Hindi)- that filled me with energy. For one thing, the movie itself was racy, and had your adrenaline pumps working on overload. But not just that, when the movie was over, you were so overflowing with energy- you wanted to face a hundred new problems, meet them square in the face, and yes, you knew you could make a difference in this world. It was not just a feeling of completeness, but as if u refueled ur mind! It did not just rejuvenate you, it made you feel empowered! N yet, it did not have beautiful cars racing (unless you call police vans and yellow buses beautiful), or hot women running, or romance or dupatta-udne-wali songs. (It did have a pretty(?) gal on the run, and the angry young man hero but not really the masala type!) In fact, what made it a beautiful movie was the simplicity, and the genius in story telling…. O, I am sorry, I didn’t mention the name of the movie, did I? It was “A Wednesday”.
(Note: Please don’t read the review before watching the movie. It is too beautiful to be spoiled by knowing the plot beforehand! And as usual, the review may not make much sense if you haven’t seen it yet…)
When the movie began, since I had already read the review, I knew the basic storyline- that it is an encounter between Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah, that it is a bomb scare etc. However, thankfully, I didn’t know the ending. And reading the review usually keeps me from getting caught (I mean, over engrossed) in the story and helps me to stand apart and look at the movie as a pure critic. However, in this case, I must say I lost to Neeraj Pandey. Though, initially I was trying to analyse each shot, it didn’t take long for the director to get me trapped, and he had me biting my fingernails in eager.
The beginning is not spectacular, and THAT is the beauty of this story. It starts off with a simple man walking into a police station and then climbing the stairs up an unfinished building with a bag of sabzi (the way he pays attention to details and picks that one tamatar that fell, as though it were the most important element of the story- man, do we have a great storyteller here!) The simplicity of Shah holds you on for a little while, (and the gag at the news creators of our media, is good), but these things can’t sustain your interest for long. And at the precise moment before which you might begin to lose interest, Shah sits in front of a table of gadgets (the changing sim part is pretty outdated) and makes that much awaited strategic phone call and the momentum picks up, what with Jai and Arif running behind men, and the police headquarters getting busy and before you know it, the race has begun. (I was regretting I didn’t have popcorn in my room, to add to the mazaa!)
Then it’s all running, and waiting for the next phone call, and I really don’t know how time flew. The scene about the hacker and reiterating the fact that the best equipment of the police is still outdated, fit. Of course, the cartoonist gimmick to figure his face is too old, they should have used a computer instead!! The video about a man who might be the mastermind behind the blasts is cleverly done, though the author could surely have come up with better tools to divert the spectator's attention!
But there were many instances that made me marvel. One being the depiction of Kher. He is the man in complete control of the situation, and in his decisions lie the fate of a city. But he doesn’t shout, no melodrama; only a subtle play of emotions, and knitted eyebrows! The other, of course, is Shah! He is brilliant, to say the least, though I am still not sure whether it is his acting or the role itself. But it takes some mettle to underplay and still convey. Besides, in the scenes where the city stands in his background, you can smell raw power. You think- this single man, unpretentious, quite ordinary, but as he sips tea, holds the power to blast an entire city. And all the action behind, the running, the police, the guns, the blood, the Ethernet cables, and the network trackers , all revolving around and being defeated by his brain! Beautiful…
Of course, the twist in the end is clever, and the (Shah’s) dialogue, very intelligent. But what stands out, even in such moments is the simplicity. We have seen so many of Shankar’s movies- all of them trying to tell us that the common man can and should question atrocities. However, there is so much drama built by Shankar, and so much hype and glitz that really masks the theme; and reduces the movie to one among many others. That, is where, “A Wednesday” stands out. Even Naseeruddin’s dialogue is not sophisticated. And his reasons are amazing. He is not fighting because his son dies in a blast. It is for some unknown stranger. Again, he doesn’t say it is for the society, it is for his own self. And the statements about ‘aam aadmi’ –wah!!
If you thought that was the end, hold on. There is more to appreciate this movie for. Though the movie is about violence, there is very less bloodshed. It is an action movie alright, but no unnecessary gore! Again, no unnecessary romance. No hero running behind heroine, and all that crap. N more importantly, the hero (which is definitely Shah and not Arif) is an old man wearing specs and carrying, with effort, a bag of vegetables. Makes me wonder if Hindi movies are really improving! Also, no unnecessary bad dialogues- most action movies use such vocabulary that you really wanna watch them muted. Of course, these things make the movie very serious. Not much of humour except the poor attempt at it, initially. But what the movie lacks for in glamour, it more than makes up for, in speed and storytelling.
Of course, there are a few plot glitches too- why Ibrahim Khan had to be shot by the police and didn’t have to die in the blast. If it is only to add spice, well, that was poorly done. Or worse, still, if it was to tell us that terrorists are not all that brave when they face death, how very farfetched! And the whole idea that anybody can make a hoax call and get away with it- is our police force THAT bad?? Surely, logic was seriously lacking there…
But I guess we should forgive the director for these minor errors, and applaud anyway…
N yes, last but never the least, it is a movie you can go watch with children (if such a breed still exists!). It might be a little too serious for them, but it surely does not have any vulgar or violent content. That is itself very commendable, as most Indian movies have lost the habit of being watchable with family. Most of the times, we are forced to accept whatever is shown and loosen our own norms of censorship, out of very less choice. And if nothing else, in that sense alone, “A Wednesday” is an amazing movie. Or in the words of the director- “Sahi ya galat- pata nahi; lekhin jo bhi tha, achcha tha!”
Movie: A Wednesday
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Actors: Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, …
Story: One man has the whole Mumbai police force running on a bomb scare
Bottomline: Don’t miss it!!
(P.S:- If it sounds like I am only praising movies, I would like to tell you about “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”. I heard raving reviews of it, and it had done very well at the box office, so I quite expectantly wasted more than two hours on it. It was an ordeal to watch, and had me desperately wishing it would get over soon. The story was obvious, and the treatment poor, but the worst part was there was nothing to grip you. Nothing that touched you either. A poor attempt at cinema, for, even with a simple storyline and popular stars, the director was unable to use the medium effectively. Incidentally, the only part I liked there too was Shah, and his Rathod dialogues! Luckily, a few movies like “A Wednesday” relieve us of the burden, and make us feel hopeful about Indian cinema.)