1000 Great Films
(c) 2009, William L. Sinclair

A Wednesday

Neeraj Pandey, 2008, India (9*)
Lately, I've been disappointed that every Bollywood film I see injects ready-made music videos into just about any story, such as Ghajini, which was inspired by Memento; it had five music videos included with the crime drama, with music and songs by double-Oscar® winner A.R. Rahman. Suffice to say that: (a) there are no music videos in this film (b) the running time is actually under two hours (c) a&b make this film unique among Indian films, at least in my experience!

A Wednesday came as welcome relief, as its a tightly plotted, finely crafted thriller from India. It might not be a stretch to say that it is, in fact, the best modern Indian drama I’ve seen. The story hits a timely nerve in most people. A police commissioner, well played by Anupam Kher, receives a phone call from a common man, as he calls himself, brilliantly played by Naseeruddin Shah (whom you never suspect of being an actor). The caller claims to have planted five bombs throughout the city, set to go off in a few hours, unless they follow his instructions.

As a show of good faith, he tells the commissioner the first bomb is in the police station across the street. When that bomb is found, the authorities decide the man is serious, and they start meeting his demands, beginning with bringing four deadly terrorists together who are being held seperately. This story becomes a battle of wits, and of two computer experts: the ‘common man’ terrorist and a hacker the police bring in to pinpoint the location of his cell phone calls to the police.

I can’t reveal much about the story without spoiling it, but it was very surprising overall. This is a theme which should hit home with audiences around the world.

I have to say I was amused by your comment about Naseeruddin Shah and at the same time saddened. He is arguably one of the greatest actors to come out of India. Unfortunately some of his classics are not available on DVD.

Hey Kogi, I loved this actor and would love to see more of his films.. which ones ARE available that serious cinephiles should start with?

Thanks for the comments! -- Jose

My favorite Shah film is "Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai" but unfortunately it is not available on DVD. My other favorite is Pestonjee (this reminds me to watch it again sometime) which is available on Netflix. Sarfarosh and Being Cyrus are also decent films where he plays character roles

Thanks for these.. Lately I've seen a plethora of boring films, mostly European. HOW some of these make the critics list (Tarkovsky's Stalker for one) is beyond me - I'd as soon be at the dentist, at least there's a positive result waiting!

I'll look him up and get these for sure, maybe some other Pandey films as well...


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