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A Wednesday Turns15, Ages Badly



While watching Neeraj Pandey’s  A Wednesday  again to  revive memories of its  impact as  it turns  15 on September 5, one was struck by how amateurish  the  end-product   looked in hindsight, in spite of its  original claims of being hiplocked  to authenticity.

 Nothing in  A Wednesday looks  authentic any more.  This could be  due to the  film’s lack of a moral  stance. Pandey seems not to take  a stand when his anonymous  terrorist(Naseeruddin Shah) plants  a  bombs  in Mumbai and   sets up a negotiation office  from the rooftop of an underconstruction building.For Pandey,the story  and its telling are the focal points. The  ethics  of  his  characters’ action were none of his concern.

 Neeraj Pandey had told this writer that there was no lift in the building and that Naseeruddin Shah  would climb the stairs to the 25th  floor every day to shoot.This kind of punishing routine explains  why A Wednesday  remains one of Naseer’s last attempts at something within the commercial space  but done in an authentic tone.

This is the  crux of the problem in  A Wednesday: it wanted to be  Black Friday in tone. But it wanted the audience of Diehard. The  research exposing the grime behind the crime seems slipshod.Looking at the  film today,one  can’t see why Naseer’s  character could get away with his amateurish vendetta scheme against an Administration  which wants to  eliminate  terrorism.

Pandey’s plotting predilections  make anti-terrorism  activities  seem  like  a crime against  humanity.Naseeruddin Shah(who refused  to speak  on the film as it  turned 15)  had spoken some months  ago about all the terrorists  in  A Wednesday being Muslim.

This stereotyping, not  baseless,  remains  a problem with cinema on terrorism even  fifteen years  after A Wednesday created  a stir in powerful places. Significantly Naseer never worked  with Pandey again. And Pandey never  made a better  film than this  debut. The closest he  came to recreating the palpable suspense of A Wednesday  in an anti-terror swell was in  Baby in 2015.  By the time Pandey made Aiyaary his voice became garbled.

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