It was a day that began pretty much like any other day. People commuted to work, housewives did their shopping, employees either wasted time in groups in the company canteen, or wasted time at their desks by daydreaming or web-surfing.
Yeah, just a day. A wednesday.
In a beautiful opening tracking shot, the camera comes down and gives us a look at a man sitting by the waterside. From the waterside shot not the head shot, can you tell where we are?
I’ll help you out. This is Mumbai, India, formerly Bombay. We are on Marine Drive, known in the bygone days, when the British ruled India, as The Queen’s Necklace.
It turns out this man is Prakash Rathod, and he is the Top cop in town; he is the Police Commissioner of Mumbai. So begins A Wednesday, story, screenplay, and directed all by Neeraj Pandey for UTV Films, and released on September 5th, 2008.
Rathod, played by Anupam Kher, is going to get a call on his personal cell phone from this man …
… who is unnamed. He does call himself The Common Man, so we will have to do the same. Naseeruddin Shah has the role.
Earlier, at midday we watched The Common Man leave a suitcase in a bustling train station right at the railhead, which was the main passenger concourse. A bit after that, he entered a police station which just happened to be across the street from police headquarters. Under the pretense of filing a FIR (First Information Report) with the constable about a lost wallet, he managed to leave another suitcase in the mens’ room in the police station.
So what was the call about? The Common Man, calling from his desk atop an abandoned while under-contruction apartment block, we’re talking rooftop here – is going to inform the Commissioner of Police that he has planted 5 bombs across the city of Bombay – sorry, Mumbai. He has some demands, but before he will tell the P.C. what those demands are, and to show that he is indeed serious, he tells the Commissioner that he has planted a bomb across the street in the local police station. He says he’ll call back in 20 minutes. And one more thing, the bombs will be detonated at 18:30 PM unless the demands are met.That’s four and a half hours away.
Commissioner Rathod is at first skeptical, but when his IT people report that the incoming call was made on a phone number of a dead man, things get very busy, very quickly.
He contacts his most trusted and capable officers – one is a uniformed officer, Jai Singh, played by Aamir Bashir. The other is a plainclothes cop, Arif Khan, played by Jimmy Shergil.
While this was going on, The Common Man contacts a UTV newsreporter who does on location breaking news stories. He tells her that this is going to be the most important day of her life. He wants her to grab her cameraman Raj, take the truck with the satellite link, and set up right outside Police Headquarters.
When he finally does get back to Police Commissioner, we finally learn the demands. He wants the PC to arrange the release of four of India’s most dangerous terrorists that are currently incarcerated in four separate prisons. He wants them brought to a little used airfield up in Juhu, north of Mumbai.
There’s your set-up, and this is as far as I can go. What follows is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. A taut and suspenseful film indeed. One man is taking on the city’s impressive array of equipment, technology, and dedicated cops.
What will the PC do? Will he acceed to The Common Man’s demands? Will he get the C.M.’s (Chief Minister of the Maharashtra State – akin to a governor) approval for the release of the prisoners?
Will they be able to track down the caller before the bombs are set to go?
Or will they have to hope they get lucky and discover the bombs.
I thought this was a great film. While the Police Headquarters War Room may have been a studio creation, everything else was on the streets of Mumbai. Just superb, and available with English and other subtitles for rental from Netflix, or for purchase from Amazon.com. A trailer is on youtube. It doesn’t have a lot of subtitles but you won’t need all that many subtitles for the trailer.