On a Thursday in Mumbai, a playschool teacher takes 16 students, a driver and a maid hostage. Naina (Yami Gautam Dhar) demands nothing less than a personal audience with the country’s prime minister.

Naina not only has a gun but is an expert shooter. The Mumbai police, led by the heavily pregnant Catherine (Neha Dhupia) and aided by her deputy Javed (Atul Kulkarni), flap about in disarray. The parents of the imprisoned children cower in fright.

It’s streamed live, of course, to scoop-hungry television networks. And it rains all the time, putting Catherine and the others a sneeze away from pneumonia. The lights are down in the Mumbai Police’s corner, but even the country’s rulers don’t seem too bright. Protocol, what protocol, thunders the prime minister (Dimple Kapadia), whose entire team of advisors comprises one man.

The biggest giveaway in Blank director Behzad Kambata’s new movie is its title. A Thursday is modelled on Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday, in which a self-declared “common man” gives the Mumbai Police the run-around in order to exact vigilante justice for the victims of terrorism.

Atul Kulkarni and Neha Dhupia in A Thursday. Courtesy RSVP/Blue Monkey Films.

The Disney+ Hotstar release fires over the tiny shoulders of children and their harrowed parents. The thriller ends with a message on behalf of a vulnerable section of the population. A Thursday reserves its anger for sensation-mongering television networks – ironic in a film that itself exploits trauma and violence.

The police’s inability to move on actionable intelligence adds an unintended comedy track to the 128-minute movie. Neha Dhupia’s Catherine is reduced to barking into her walkie-talkie, clutching her swollen belly, and enduring Javed’s misogynistic taunts and lectures on motherhood.

It’s not like the needlessly aggressive Javed is in command either. Despite being described as a crack negotiator, Javed is always two steps behind Naina.

The scattershot script, by Kambata and Ashley Lobo, is briskly paced and entertainingly performed. Atul Kulkarni suitably glowers as Javed. Yami Gautam Dhar plays Naina with a menacing glare straight out of a horror movie and a military zeal that belongs to a Commando comic.

A shout-out to Kalyanee Mulay, whose domestic worker is one of the many hapless victims of Naina’s warped mission.

A Thursday (2022).