Other terror films don't bother Neeraj Pandey

Sep 6, 2008 Subhash K Jha

Mumbai, Sep 7 (IANS) Neeraj Pandey, the director of "A Wednesday", is not worried that the two other films that released this week also have terrorism as their theme.

His debut film that stars Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher has competition in Kunal Deshmukh's "Hijack" and "Tahaan" by Santosh Sivan.

"I haven't seen 'Hijack'. I'm sure it will be good. But I've seen Santosh Sivan's 'Tahaan'. I don't know much about the dynamics of economics, but it seems it's made for a niche audience. 'Tahaan' is in totally different territory from my thriller. I strongly recommend it," Pandey told IANS.

His counter-terrorism film "A Wednesday" is formated as a thriller, thereby ensuring a wider audience participation than the other films on the theme.

Said the debutant director: "I think the thriller format gives the film an edge. That was the whole intention. I wanted to convey the story in the most interesting format possible. At some point of time we all wonder what it would be like if we do away with all the extremist elements."

And how did he manage the brilliant casting?

"I didn't know Naseer at all. I just sent him a copy of the script. He responded in a month saying he was on without discussing the remuneration. The same happened with Anupam. I don't think 'A Wednesday' could've been made with any other two actors," he said.

"A Wednesday" is Neeraj's first feature film, though he has done telefilms earlier.

"Before this I was doing stand-alone TV programming, mostly telefilms. 'A Wednesday' was originally produced by my banner, but UTV eventually took over. No one was willing to put money on 'A Wednesday'. I don't blame them. On the surface it doesn't sound like the most commercial of ventures."

"A Wednesday" shows a hapless middle class man played by Naseeruddin Shah, taking on himself the task of getting hardcore terrorists eliminated for good.

Pandey clarifies that he doesn't mean to endorse any kind of self-invented fascism.

"All I'm saying is that our system of governance needs a serious repair job and pretty fast. Otherwise the common man would be compelled to take to what you call fascism. I feel there's a lot of resentment and anger in the common man in Mumbai for the acts of violence that are inflicted periodically on the city.

"But they've no choice but to move on and pretend that resilience is a voluntary option. When the middle class gets effected beyond an impersonal point, it will react," he said.

But the motivation behind the self-appointed social cleanser in Pandey's film, played by Naseer, seems to be a bit of a puzzle.

"I think we need to know more about this man. Who is he? How angry is he? And why? I didn't do much research before making 'A Wednesday'. I was in touch with some people in the police force. But most of the material came from my imagination. But yes, I did read a lot of newspaper and magazine reports on acts of terrorism," Pandey explained.

Pandey is already working on another script, but he prefers not to divulge any details now.

"I need some more time on that. It's completely different from 'A Wednesday'. Whether it's as serious or not, I'd want my next film to be as entertaining as 'A Wednesday'. I look at 'A Wednesday' as a commercial entertainer and cathartic."

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