A Thursday is edge-of-the-seat thriller

Yami Gautam Dhar plays a teacher who takes 16 children hostages in A Thursday. Photo: Trailer Video Grab.

Naina Jaiswal (Yammi Gautam) operates a playschool from her home. On one Thursday, there are plans to celebrate her birthday (which falls the next day) in the evening by her fiancé, Rohit Mirchandani (Karanvir Sharma) for some close friends.

Of the 16 children in her school, however, little Niharika is celebrating her birthday that day itself. And her driver (Boloram Das) will bring her birthday cake for everyone. The Prime Minister, Maya Rajguru (Dimple Kapadia), who has already improved so many things in the country, is also due for a visit to South Mumbai, a huge area of the metropolis in a part of which the school is also located.

And then the police receive a call. It is Naina, telling them that the children are now being held hostage, and she has certain conditions on which she will release them safely. Or else! She makes her video viral. Two unwilling victims in the drama are the school maid, Savitri (Kalyani Mulay) who has to return to collect her Aadhaar Card (India’s identification card for citizens) for something she needs, and the driver who has bought the cake. Once they enter, they cannot leave and so they are bound and gagged at gunpoint by Naina.

The police, headed by ACP Catherine Alvarez (Neha Dhupia) and her deputy Javed Khan (Atul Kulkarni), whom Naina specially asks for—reason cleared later, cordon off the school. The anxious parents, including Shalini (Maya Serrao), whose son is among the kids and who is a TV newsreader known to Rohit, are desperate. Rohit too is flummoxed by this sudden change in Naina.

And then Naina declares her demands, shaking everyone with what she says, and also insists on a meeting with the PM!

It is obvious where the title comes from (remember the classic A Wednesday! 14 years ago?) and this film could have reached that level. The song-free movie (like that one) is almost as edge-of-the-seat, and the climax equally ‘twist’ed. But the content is decidedly not as convincing, or even motivating. Many implausible aspects crowd the narrative, and the media comes across as actually incompetent clowns in the end—though it does represent some channels in real life!

Behzad Khambata, who last directed Blank (2019), improves vastly over his debut film and maintains a relentless pace that prevents us from mulling over flaws that range from minor (like the matter of the ‘Net connectivity for Naina) to gargantuan (of a Prime Minister defying security protocol and kowtowing to a possible assassin’s demands for emotional reasons). As we get deeper insights into Naina’s character and past, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit in slowly and the last twist comes as a sudden whopper. However, without giving away spoilers, I must say that Naina deserved something different.

Finally, and very importantly, A Thursday does suffer a lot vis-à-vis A Wednesday! but is leagues ahead of unbearable tripe like last year’s Dhamaka.

Yammi Gautam sinks her teeth and entire being into one of her meatiest roles with a cool aplomb. Her walk, glances and body language exude the menace needed for her character and motivations. Atul Kulkarni is, as always, excellent as Javed Khan and Neha Dhupia as ACP Catherine shines, especially in the various portions where she has a tussle with Javed or when she faces moral or tactical dilemmas in the matter of the children’s safety. Especially after Naina shoots one child dead on video…

The most brilliant among the supporting cast is Kalyani Mulay as Savitri. Boloram Das as one of Naina’s victims is good, as he has to largely rely on his facial expressions because Naina has tied and gagged him throughout. Subhangi Latkar as Naina’s mom impresses in her limited cameo. The rest of the cast does well, especially all the kids. Dimple Kapadia as the PM is just okay, her character clearly written for the gallery. They could have just used a female state chief minister instead without any significant reduction in impact.

The background music is well-done, and the technical values are upscale. In these days of mostly bad and worse films streamed directly and by the dozen on OTT platforms, A Thursday is worth a watch from the audience point of view. But it falls short of what it could have been with a lot more sincerity—and cerebration—in its writing and execution.

Rating: ***

Disney+Hotstar presents RSVP’s & Blue Monkey Films’ A Thursday Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala & Premnath Rajagopalan  Directed by: Behzad Khambata Written by: Behzad Khambata, Asley Lobo & Vijay Maurya  Music: Roshan Dalal & Kaizad Gherda Starring:Yami Gautam Dhar, Atul Kulkarni, Neha Dhupia, Karanvir Sharma, Dimple Kapadia, Kalyani Mulay, Shubhangi Latkar, Boloram Das, Akram Aziz, Maya Serao, Adi Irani, Micky Makhija, Sukesh Anand & others







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