Driven by my fascination with directorial debut films, I came across a Hindi action crime drama streaming on Amazon Prime Video A Wednesday! It is written and directed by Neeraj Pandey which is inspired by the Mumbai train bombing though the movie is entirely a work of fiction. The film gains critical acclaim and viewers’ attention making it a sleeper hit at the box office. It was later remade in Tamil (Unnaipol Oruvan, 2009) and Telugu (Eeenadu, 2009), and Sri Lankan English film a Common Man (2013). Among the awards received are the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director at the 56th National Film Awards, Best Director, Best Story, and Most Promising Debut Director at the 54th Filmfare Awards (2009). As usual, I didn’t watch the trailer and read anything about the movie before watching it. Having watched many films in this genre, I am hoping that this has something new to offer. So just read on to know my take.
Story, Frames & Score
The movie opens with the retrospection of a retired Mumbai Police Commissioner about what happened one Wednesday afternoon which he describes as the most challenging case he handled in his career. He recounts an unrecorded event that took place between 2 pm to 6 pm which starts from a bag of explosives placed in the restroom of a police station opposite the Mumbai Police Headquarters. The narration follows the act of terrorism, control-room drama, cat-and-mouse chase, and the race-against-the-clock mind games.
The screenplay is taut and straightforward maintaining its gripping atmosphere throughout the 103 minutes runtime. The movie stands out because of its solid storyline, excellent screenplay, and hard-hitting dialogues. It is narrated in a manner that is simple, yet sublime that keeps up the tension and never gets the audience bored. And what’s the best feat? It’s the unpredictable twist that starts from that spine-chilling monologue that delivers a universal message against violence and social injustice.
Character & Performances
The characterization is well defined and the execution is brilliant. The two main characters show spot-on performances on fleshing out their characters. Naseeruddin Shah amazes me with his raw and realistic line delivery. His facial expression and body language are so calm and plain but each line he throws creates a powerful blow especially that jaw-dropping monologue. Anupam Kher is a picture-perfect anti-terrorist cop Prakash Rathod. He delivers compelling performance of his character dynamics. Deepal Shaw shows a dynamic portrayal as a television news reporter Naina Roy. Jimmy Sheirgill and Aamir Bashir both contributed solid performances adding to the strong cast ensemble. The rest of the support casts are all good, thus, contributing to the plot development.
Music, Frames, & Direction
The time-lapse and aerial shots are fantastic. Fuwad Khan uses tight shots inside the control room to establish the tension and capture the raw emotions of the characters. However, the wide-angle, vertical pans and 360° shots on the rooftop are overkill and nauseous just how ambiguous the real intention of the villain has in mind. Another downfall of the movie is the poor graphics, especially during the explosions. Those scenes look very unrealistic and cartoonish.
Without any song and dance, there is no room for unnecessary scenes thus making the movie tight. The BGM helps establish the hostility presented by the narratives but Sanjoy Chowdhury fails to make the score consistently gripping.
The integration of the social commentary on a terrorism plot shows the ingenuity of the debutant director Neeraj Pandey. After the revelation, it turns out to be a movie that would make the audience think about what is rational and irrational. With keen editing by Shree Narayan Shingh the movie is free from irrelevant scenes making the story consistently enthralling. Sir Pandey’s superb direction, solid storyline, sharp dialogues, bonused with stellar performances enable him to make a short, fast-paced, and hard-hitting thriller that does not only aim to entertain but to enlighten as well.
More than a usual terrorist crime movie, A Wednesday! is an eye-opener about how dismal bureaucracy affects the lives of common men. Though it is presented as a gripping and entertaining film, it deals with many sensitive matters originating from corruption, police brutality, media manipulation, and conflict orchestration ending with citizen’s frustration and the act of violence as one loses hope in what we call government and justice system.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.