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Review Hindi

A Thursday review: This hostage thriller has a timely social message

Release Date: 17 Feb 2022 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 08min

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

The film starring Yami Gautam has thematic similarities with A Wednesday, but it explores a different subject and uses a different treatment.

A title like A Thursday is guaranteed to make you recall Neeraj Pandey’s iconic A Wednesday (2008) and wonder if the film is a sequel of some kind to the Naseeruddin Shah-starrer. But Behzad Khambata’s directorial venture has no connection with A Wednesday and is an independent film.

At the same time, A Thursday has thematic similarities with A Wednesday, though it explores a completely different story with a different protagonist.

The movie revolves around Naina Jaiswal (Yami Gautam Dhar), a nursery teacher who runs the playschool at her home in Colaba (south Mumbai). She is engaged to criminal lawyer Rohit Mirchandani (Karanvir Sharma), who dearly loves her. Naina is very caring and sweet with her students. The tots, too, feel good and comfortable around her. 

One Thursday, out of the blue, Naina takes the children hostage inside her playschool without them being aware of what is going on. She calls up the police and confesses to her crime. The case is handed over to senior officer Catherine Alvarez (Neha Dhupia), who is pregnant. But Naina says she will negotiate only with Alvarez's junior, inspector Javed Khan (Atul Kulkarni). Alvarez and Khan can’t see eye-to-eye but they are forced to collaborate on the case.

Naina then demands Rs5 crore and a meeting with India’s prime minister (Dimple Kapadia). She threatens to kill one child every hour if her demands are not met. Meanwhile, Rohit is shocked by Naina’s actions as he had never imagined she could do something so extreme and criminal.

A hostage drama is no longer a novel subject for any cinema of the world. But most such tales have a terrorist or group of terrorists at work. A Thursday stands apart because the main culprit is a sweet, kind-hearted teacher. You keep wondering why such a person would take such a drastic step and this element plays a key role in keeping you interested in the goings-on.

If you have seen A Wednesday, you might well be able to predict where this story will lead eventually. But the film will still surprise you, not just with the issue it introduces at the end but also with its overwhelming and emotional treatment.

What also works for A Thursday is that the narrative keeps you glued from the start with its tight screenplay, which stays tight for most of the film's duration. The thrilling background score and creative camerawork, even in scenes set indoors, are pluses.

A Thursday also comes with its share of minuses. The first half is longer than was necessary while the narrative in the middle of the second half feels stretched. The film also has the usual flaws that such ambitious thrillers are prone to, one being that the children are unaware of the tense situation they are part of.

Yami Gautam has proved herself in films like Vicky Donor (2012), Kaabil (2017), Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019) and Bala (2019). But A Thursday has to be her most accomplished work till date. She was required to play a sweet teacher and a ruthless criminal and she excels in both roles, sometimes switching between the two modes in seconds.

Atul Kulkarni plays a different role, of a police ofifcer frustrated with his life. He brings the character to life. Neha Dhupia carries herself well as a troubled and pregnant officer. Dimple Kapadia doesn’t try too much to get into the character of a prime minister and that works well in adding subtlety. Kalyanee Mulay, as a domestic help, provides a dedicated act.

A Thursday, obviously, doesn’t rise to the level of A Wednesday. But it is a good tribute to the 2008 movie. The film is also a huge improvement over Behzad Khambata's debut flick Blank (2019).

A Thursday is being premiered on Disney+ Hotstar on 17 February 2022.


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