Having decided to do a legal review of A Wednesday, I settled in comfortably with a chicken burger and coke (the dinner that day) at PVR Saket. To my mind Naseeruddin Shah was the high point of the movie, and he was enough reason for me to sit through the movie. I had seen the trailer. Terrorism being the central theme, I decided to do a legal review. I expected a clean, slick packaging and consistently gripping treatment, and I was not disappointed. I never expected a fresh insight into terrorism from a newcomer director, and, again, I wasn’t very wrong.
I had also read the praise-singing reviews from the authorities no lesser than Khalid Mohammad and Nikhat Kazmi. But I still did not have high hopes because I had also read similar reviews of Rang De Basanti.
And the movie began with a Mumbai Police Commissioner cooling his heels by the sea shore remembering a case that has no mention in the police records. Four internationally notorious terrorists from dreaded terrorist organizations were forced to be released and three of them were blown off and one shot in staged police encounter. The case still has no mention in any official records. Am I supposed to believe it? Is that a made-in-India, unanimated version of Tom and Jerry: Terrorism series? But all that was later.
The first scene had actually managed to engage my attention, as a case that was not significant enough for police records but still lingered in the memory of the top cop had to be a moving human story about how the state power engages with the common man, or something close to that. Anything of that sort could be a wonderful story. I sat up and took note. And from there on my disappointment began. The movie took huge liberties with reality. Not only with the way things worked in the real world but also with the mindset of the people. The central character, brilliantly essayed by Naseer, is a family man who tries to teach the system a lesson so as to convey the desperation of the common man.
The problem is that the common is not so naïve as to think that the government lacks motivation to launch a crackdown on terrorism. Moreover, the director also ignores the fact that there has been a much larger crackdown in operation for years now with little gain so far. The US attacked Afghanistan and also Iraq, and it was as far as a country in terms of crackdown.
Did director Neeraj Pandey really intend to say that the reason for the spread of terrorism was that enough force was not applied? Did the director miss the point so completely? I thought of clearing it with the director himself and asked for an interview.
Neeraj, who has so far given very few interviews (if any at all), agreed to an e-mail interview. To my utter astonishment, he confirmed that he actually thought the pressure exerted was not enough. Terrorism, in his opinion, needed to be dealt with a firmer hand.
Of course, I did the Legal Scanner and the interview was part of it. I’ll very soon be publishing both on the blog.
Originally published on my WordPress Blog on February 17, 2009