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A Wednesday – Movie review

September 13, 2008

While I was in a cinema theatre watching a movie about terrorism, five blasts took place in Delhi…between 6:15 PM and 7 PM.

A Wednesday is the movie I saw earlier this evening…and it was about terrorism. It was about how a terrorist holds a whole city to hostage by planting five bombs in the city. One comes out of the cinema hall feeling vindicated at the ending…even satisfied. Even though one knows that it is not quite right to feel this way. A feeling that (briefly) intensified for me as soon as I heard about the bomb blasts in Delhi…

Well, I wish I could tell the whole story right here, but it will ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it…this is a movie that one enjoys best if one doesn’t know the ending.

There have been several movies about terrorism in the recent past…and when I saw A Wednesday I couldn’t help but compare it to Amir. But three things make A Wednesday glaringly different:

1) A Wednesday has an original script.
2) It has no protagonist.
3) It has a happy ending.

I am a sucker for thrillers and for happy endings and I guess that is why I liked this movie even though happy endings are not always what we see in real life…

What is A Wednesday exactly about? (no spoilers)
The story is a simple one. There are bombs, five of them…and this we find that out pretty early on in the movie. One bomb is planted at the police station itself…and as for the other bombs, well that is for the police to find out. And as is common with all terrorists, the person who has planted the bombs wants something in exchange…
There is suspense even though we know that the police commissioner (Prakash Rathod, who is the narrator) is alive and well…as we don’t know what is going to happen to the other characters.
The twist in the tale is what makes the movie worth it. It’s a very satisfying movie although until the last twenty minutes of the movie things seem to be going on in a predictable manner.

Is the movie realistic?
Ofcourse not, but the way it is shot lends it realism. There are no elaborate sets. There are plenty of shots of railway stations, the streets and buildings. A fair amount of the movie takes place indoors, at police HQ.
It was interesting (though I can’t say realistic) to see how the director (Neeraj Pandey) portrays Mumbai’s senior police officers – very positively. They are shown to get into super action-mode once they get to know of the existence of the bombs…Hollywood style. Hi-tech offices, huge screens, Rathod in charge and barking orders, demanding that everything happen at top speed. They even get a hacker to try and locate the villain!

There is a fair amount of drama in the movie too. There was this conversation between police commissioner Rathod and one of his officers, Jai.

Rathod: Are you married?
Jai: Yes sir.
Rathod: Do you have children?
Jai: A three month old daughter sir
Rathod: Are you ready to die? (Marne ko tayar ho?)
Jai: Yessir!

The characters
Both the main characters are more than just middle-aged…Naseeruddin Shah (who plays the villain) and Anupam Kher who plays Prakash Rathod, the top cop look over 60. There are two young men in the movie – Jai Singh (Aamir Bashir) and Arif Khan (Jimmy Shergill), both police officers. Jimmy Shergill, who plays a ruthless and violent cop is right for the role – he looks physically very fit and does the action scenes convincingly. Anupam Kher does a good job as Chief, although his presence in so many movies is getting to be a bore. Naseeruddin Shah is brilliant as usual…there is something about the way he acts that makes him rise above himself. One never thinks of him as Naseeruddin when one is watching him.
The only woman in the movie is a TV reporter (played by Deepal Shaw) and while she is okay, her role is not in any way critical to the movie.

This movie is worth a see. It’s short (100 minutes) and there are no songs, not a single one. The pace of the movie doesn’t falter…in fact it keeps building up to an interesting climax. However I was not entirely happy with the editing, although the movie is less than 2 hours in length. There was some unnecessary scenes, mostly played out at police HQ. I think the movie could have been at least 10 minutes shorter although if I compare it to Mumbai Meri Jaan (another movie about terrorism) then I guess the editing of this movie is very good.

(Photo credits: Rediff.com)

Related Reading: Blogger Amit’s review
Rock on review
Mumbai Meri Jaan review
Amir review

More: Citizens Need Answers! (on terrorism)

A note to readers: I would be grateful if comments do not reveal the story! Maybe it’s a little silly of me to ask for, but would appreciate it! Thanks!

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2008 11:22 pm

    Nita, I am afraid a more critical analysis of this movie presents quite a different picture. Dont ‘terrorists’ have to be proven guilty in a court of law? At the end, this movie just seemed to me to be one more, yeah its okay if the poor minorities are not given due process, because the middle classes are ‘frustrated’, it doesnt question the radicalization of the middle classes itself.

    Dont get me wrong, I have travelled in the Mumbai locals for years and my mother does it even today.

    Until India,
    1) Seriously upgrades its police and intelligence capabilities
    2) Stops the murder of innocents in the name of ‘revenge’
    3) Gives the right justice to those who have suffered in riots and punishes the perpetrators (instead of making them the CMs etc, in the name of development),
    these things will continue to happen.

    Hindutva breeds the Mujahideen and vice versa.

    Vikram, I deleted one line of your comment to avoid giving the story away…please don’t mind it! And I am not denying what you said at all. If you notice, I have said it. I agree with you whole-heartedly – the message in this movie was wrong. I didn’t say it directly in the review because I didn’t want to give the story away. But I know even what I wrote sounded bad, so I have deleted one line of my post as well. Thanks…sometimes when one writes one doesn’t realise how bad it sounds! :) I strongly believe that it is not right to feel vindicated, but I certainly felt it, strongly, for a brief while until the rationality took over. – nita.

  2. September 14, 2008 12:04 am

    I don’t think the message of the movie was wrong at all. Though, I do completely agree with the suggestions of Vikram in improving our capabilities.

    Our culture, our history, our religion teaches us to be practical in our daily life rather than idealistic maniacs hell bent on living for worthless ideals.

    When the terrorists are killing us senselessly, without any care for rule and life of innocents, then it becomes our duty to right the wrong, no matter how. These terrorists are not british and we can not pretend to fight like Gandhi.

    These are evil who needs to be destroyed like Kaurvas in Mahabharat. Our heritage places high importance on duty and doing the right thing in right circumstances.

    During Mahabharat, Krishna forced Yudhistir to lie to kill Drona, Krishan forced Arjuna to kill Karan when his charriot was stuck in a pothole, and Krishna forced Bhima to defeat Duryodhan by breaking the rules. Even though Krishna broke nearly every rule of the War, he has been worshipped as Bhagawan in India for over 5000 years! You must ask this question yourself, Why is he still considered a Bhagawan? Are people of India stupid to adopt such an Idol?

    Same goes for Bhagawan Raam. He killed Bali using “unorthodox” methods. Yet, he is still considered a Bhagawan and has been for over 7000-8000 years! Why?

    Krishna and Raam did the most practical and necessary thing to establish the rule of Dharma. Therefore, our culuture, our history, and our society has worshipped them for so many years and adopted them as our idols.

    Hindu civilization has placed the utmost importance on doing practical things and following your duty. In the current scenario, the most practical and apt thing to do is to kill these terrorists once we know that they have committed the crime. I hope you don’t support keeping Afzal Guru alive just because it may ruffle some imaginary feathers of the followers of “religion of peace”.

    The true worship of our idols, our bhagwans is to become like them. It is time for each and everyone of us to become Krishna and Raam to protect our Dharma, our civilization and our Nation.

    We need to grow up and realize that it is useless to worship at the alters of whishhy washy ideals and we need to live for something tanglible like our Nation.

  3. September 14, 2008 12:27 am

    Hindutva breeds the Mujahideen

    What about 9/11 the Chechins and the Russians and even the bali blasts ???

    thats a big statement to make….

    The fact is that for the legal system to be working it should seem to be working and the entire trial of the 94 blasts was a big let down to its victims…

    Lastly when a top lawyer says
    Justice delayed is justice denied says a lot about this failed system in India ?

  4. September 14, 2008 1:13 am

    Oh my god the lecture at the end, I fell asleep during it literally. How can someone be so wordy! Otherwise it was predictable that I knew how it would end. I would have to agree with Vikram though.

  5. September 14, 2008 1:41 am

    Sorry, Nita I did not mean to give the movie away, thanks for your reply and calm thinking. :)

  6. September 14, 2008 3:16 am

    But somehow am bored and hate watching such movies…

    Nice review…

  7. September 14, 2008 3:45 am

    nice review …might try it soon

  8. raghav permalink
    September 14, 2008 5:15 am

    Great movie. Keeps you busy till the end. A very diff. perspective and the greatest thing is that its abt. a common man’s action which makes it more believable.

    My condolences to the victims of the next blast in advance wherever its going to be. Srry for my stupid sarcasm. I can’t think of more rational way to express my anger.

  9. September 14, 2008 7:59 am

    Sanjeev, even if I lay my reservations aside, even then I wonder if what you say would work in getting rid of the terrorists, the evil people. I am not convinced that these ways work.

    Prax, I think maybe Vikram meant instigates rather than breeds.

    Odzer, I forgot to mention that in the review. Yes it was rather boring, perhaps I should say that they should cut another 10 minutes out of it!

    Manasa, arvind, thanks.

    Raghav, a very different and original story. I loved it.

  10. September 14, 2008 8:01 am

    Nita, I planned to watch the 9.30 show but couldn’t due to the blasts.

  11. September 14, 2008 9:28 am

    I liked the movie too…hey isnt giving away that it has a happy ending a spoiler? :P I’m a sucker for happy endings too!! The fact that “It’s short (100 minutes) and there are no songs, not a single one. ”
    made me like it more. :)

    P.S. I’m awaiting ur precious comment on my recent post on LHC. *shameless comment begging* :)

  12. September 14, 2008 1:29 pm

    I enjoyed the movie Nita. And while the message might be a wrong one, like RDB, the point is, it makes for a satisfying movie. Very simple. :)

  13. September 14, 2008 1:30 pm

    @ Nita:

    I am pretty sure you would have watched “Being Cyrus”. It is films like that – and the one you review here sounds promising too – that make me hopeful for the Hindi film industry. If I could, I would watch more Hindi films. But the time required and the logistics of getting to a cinema hall just don’t allow more indulgence.

    Even so I am staying away from that mud-fest over on the ‘Bollywood’ post. :-) People who have spent much longer on the planet forget that someone half their age cannot possibly have seen as many films as they have – sheer limitation of time. But that credit needs be given for an open mind about things, if not also for the possibility that the younger person will experience more of life in the years accorded him/ her on the planet.

  14. September 14, 2008 2:01 pm

    Great review..
    i need to watch it..!!

    am tired of all these terror attacks…
    we all need to start reacting…in which way i dont know..but there should be an end to all these happenings..!!

  15. September 14, 2008 6:00 pm

    This was a good movie indeed.

  16. September 14, 2008 9:36 pm

    Killing each other can never be a solution. But, yes, the movie touched a raw nerve. It displayed the frustrations of a common man, the fear and the helplessness.

  17. September 14, 2008 11:47 pm

    If killing the terrorists is not the solution then appeasing them is not either.

    Why did we have partition? To appease the Muslims and let them live in a separate place so that we can grow in peace. Has it happened? Of Course not.

    It is not the time to beg the terrorists to not kill us anymore. We ought to prepare for the war to fight these terrorists. We need to grow a stomach for a tough fight, even it means killing people like Afzal Guru.

    People who are living in a wonder world, need to just take a cursory glance at our civilization and history to realize Killing/Violence has been used as effective mean of containing evil. This is the message that is taught to repeatdly through our Puranas, Vedas, Mahabharat, History and so called “mythology”.

    I doubt any of the preacher of “Killing each other can never be a solution” has been inside a HINDU temple. If you have, you would have noticed that every single Hindu God representation has a WEAPON in their hand. Very often more than 1. Why do you think they are there? For mere decoration?

    Hell No! These weapons are suppose to be used to destroy evil. The whole Bhagawad Gita is based on premise that evil appears in various forms, even in the form of our relative/brothers/cousions, and it our utmost responsibility to perform our duty of anihiliating adharma. The results of our actions shouldn’t concern us, when we are following our dharmic duty.

    The whole western world is grappling with the ways of containing adharmic forces. I hope India can stand up and listen to the message taught and passed on to us for over 5000 years and become a living example of dharmic life.

  18. September 15, 2008 9:09 am

    Prerna, do catch the movie soon. It’s different and worth it.

    Reema, hmm, so you don’t like musicals. I like songs in movies but only if they are relevant. It’s irritating if they are shoved in all the time and I guess this movie certainly doesn’t need one! But I confess I have seen some boring movies only for the great songs!

    MM, I like your way of looking at things…that’s because you remind me of myself. ;)

    Shefaly, I saw Being Cyrus. Good movie. I remember I found something wrong with it though, but as I didn’t write a review now I don’t remember! I forget movies very quickly, most of them.

    Vinayak, Priyank and Amit thanks for your responses!

    Sanjeev, yes our Gods have weapons. A lot of food for thought.

  19. September 15, 2008 2:09 pm

    Good and evil are two sides of a coin. Trying to get rid of good or evil is actually trying to get rid of the coin itself.
    Evil keeps reincarnating in several forms.
    It sometimes does a good job of blowing the steam off from the society.
    As log as good and evil are in right proportions, our society keeps chugging along.

    Movie wednesday is good and it kept me glued to the screen and forced me to follow and toe the writers perspective.
    –sri

  20. September 15, 2008 8:30 pm

    If not for social content (wch i wont like much), i love to come back to ur blog for the sake of movie reviews… very good presentation… now ‘m waiting to watch this movie…

  21. September 15, 2008 9:33 pm

    Yet to watch the movie. But I don’t agree with the “happy endings are not always what we see in real life”. It has happy endings. Just it requires the attitude to have clear vision.

  22. ulag permalink
    September 15, 2008 9:51 pm

    It was a good movie. It showed the frustration of a society which is brought to its heels again n again by terrorism. There are some ppl who would like to say no we are not defeated and they would go on to celebrate the “spirit” of the the people, that they are going about their daily lives as usual. In reality this is an illusion. The fact is the terrorists are hitting us and they’re hitting us hard where and when they want. They have proved that no target is beyond their reach. To brush this under the carpet is a grave mistake. The fact is that we have systematically been exposed to so much violence over so many years that we have come to accept it. Initially it was confined to Kashmir. Soon it spread to other cities and we told ourselves that it is an outpouring of the situation in Kashmir and once the Kashmir issue is resolved, terrorism will be over. But nowadays not a single terrorist act is linked to Kashmir. We’re so used to terrorism that we have not even bothered to wonder why these people are attacking us. They claim to be fighting for minority rights buts its not true. Their real intentions are to destabilize the country.

    To top this we have a highly inefficient home minister who makes statements like “I’m sorry that the Delhi blasts have happened”!!!…does our home minister need to apologise for bomb blasts in his own country??

    Fact is events like Godhra have given plenty of fuel to feed the fires of revenge. If we ask for stringent laws against terrorism then we must make sure that the same laws and yardsticks are also applied to people who riot and disturb communal harmony. Or else the laws will be seen as biased and unpopular.

  23. September 15, 2008 10:27 pm

    Too many good reviews about this movie. I gotta watch this one then! 100 minutes is not long either, it should be quick to watch. Thank you for the review.

  24. Vinod permalink
    September 16, 2008 7:00 am

    It’s short (100 minutes) and there are no songs, not a single one.

    I hope the trend picks up. I’m tired of forwarding the song and fight scenes in Indian movies.

  25. September 16, 2008 7:45 am

    Sri, when a director manages to persuade you to his own point of view, it says something for him doesn’t it!

    Su, thanks. :)

    Guttu, not always! :)

    Ulag, I agree this getting used to terrorism is a horrible thing. I think the fact that the Australian team though twice about coming to India should tell us something. As for the Home Minister, I feel he should be sacked.

    Dinesh Babu, Vinod, thanks for your comments!

  26. September 21, 2008 8:03 am

    Must be a good movie, for many people seem to disagree with the ending, and yet give it high ratings!

    :p

  27. Amruta G. permalink
    October 6, 2008 11:18 am

    Yea i find not using due process to prosecute a terrorist quite frightening and akin to terrorism…this movie had serious issues in its portrayal of terrorism and how to take care of it…the “common man” is basically blackmailing the police by threatening to kill hundreds if the one terrorist isn’t killed…and this is pretty much what terrorism is and what a terrorist does…india cannot negotiate with terrorists but it cannot kill people without due process…india’s judicial system must reform…i’m kinda nervous that all Indians liked this movie so much without being at all critical of it…

  28. aman permalink
    February 12, 2012 1:57 pm

    nice review….

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