Sat, 13 Sep 2008 23:58:31 GMT

'A Wednesday': Cut to...Copland!

Anybody who travels by public transport feels a slight twinge of fear—who knows which innocuous-looking person will place a bomb in a train or bus; which ordinary parcel will turn out to be a killer.

'A Wednesday': Cut to...Copland!

Movie Review by Deepa Gahlot

Neeraj Pandey's first film 'A Wednesday', speaks on behalf of the common citizen--and in his film, the worm turns, and how.   It is for all its brisk realism a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but it makes the viewer feel good and empowered for a short while.

The other admirable aspect of the film is that it gives the much-reviled police force its due. 

The men (and women, though none seen here) take quick decisions, risk their lives and make the city safer for all of us.  Pandey shows them at work at their most stressed and most efficient on a case that will never become public and win them any attention or awards.

Police commissioner Prakash Rathod's (Anupam Kher) routine day with whining superstar complaining of extortion, is jangled with a phone call that claims bombs have been placed at various places in the city, including a police station across the street, and will be activated unless four terrorists are released.

The nameless caller (Naseeruddin Shah), grey-haired, slightly bent, dressed in bush-shirt and glasses, does not look like terrorist material, but is an expert on explosives and computers.

Rathod and his team swing into action—his two top cops Jai Singh (Aamir Bashir) and the hot-headed Arif (Jimmy Shergill) are put on the job, along with dozens of faceless men, tracing calls, slogging over computers and taking out search teams.

The man keeps track of what is going on from his perch atop an under-construction building and the camera of news reporter Naina Roy (Deepal Shaw), whom he keeps tipping off and whose orders she reluctantly follows in the journalistic quest for scoops. (Strange that no other news channel or paper bothers to follow the story that is beaming live).

The film makes very few compromises for the box-office—no songs, no item numbers, no romance, just a cursory look at Jai Singh's wife and kid, perhaps to establish that cops are normal guys in abnormal situations, and what they stand to lose every day when criminals hold the city to ransom.

The caller is smart, keeps the cops on their toes (like making one climb to 12 floors of a building only to find a 'o Not disturb' sign), and the only one who can trace him is a cicky young hacker, who comes to admire his adversary's expertise. It would spoil the film to reveal what happens next, but it is feel good in a most unexpected way.

The film belongs to its actors, who perform in a unfussy low-key style, which is always more difficult to handle.  Anupam Kher, dressed in everyday clothes, with no props or accoutrements to hold on to, gives such an utterly natural performance that you can believe this is what a police commissioner must be like. Naseeruddin Shah, the protagonist and antagonist in the film, is as perfect as he can be expected to be.

One doesn't know how long it took first-time writer-director Neeraj Pandey to get backers for his brave film, but one can be thankful that star-obsessed Bollywood is also making space for films like this.

Source: India Syndicate

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