Yami Gautam also cleared the air on whether "A Thursday" is a sequel to the 2008 film "A Wednesday."
Female actors shouldering a film is something which the audience looks forward to nowadays. Joining the bandwagon is Yami Gautam Dhar, who is gearing up for her third OTT movie release, A Thursday. We connected virtually for a chat where technology sadly played foul multiple times. However, with her calm and sweetness, Yami said, "Technology is beyond all of us." The actor also offered to answer the question again with the infectious smile she has.
Meanwhile, talking about A Thursday, in the film, the actor plays the role of a kindergarten teacher named Naina Jaiswal who takes 16 kids as hostages. Her demands go from Rs 5 crore to having a one-on-one conversation with the Prime Minister, played by Dimple Kapadia.
In a chat with OTTplay, the actor revealed the reason behind saying yes to the film directed by Behzad Khambata and also explained how A Thursday is not a sequel to A Wednesday.
Edited excerpts below
This is the first time you are playing a character like this who explores the darker side. What made you take up this role?
How dark it is and how complex it is, dark or gray, I leave it up to you, obviously, when you watch the film, to decide. For me, the first and foremost reasons for taking up A Thursday were the script, the story, and the narrative that it has of a girl named Naina Jaiswal, her journey, and the way it was put out. There are different ways to tell a story, and this is how we did it. I thought this was something very different. We've had hostage dramas before here in Indian cinema, and we've had them in the West. But I thought, yet another film, here's another story, another character, and someone is trusting me to play a part that they've never seen me in before. When you have a reference in your mind, or maybe you've seen an actor do something like that remotely in the past, you feel he or she could play the part. But there was none for me, and I loved that challenge. I love that faith.
This is a story that must be told. It's good or bad, you judge, whatever it is, but it is what it is. That's not her, that's a fictional character. So that's the beauty of films: they don't have to necessarily be a reflection of what you always expect. This is not realistic. I think in the film world, anything is possible, but at the heart of it, it's something. I don't want to say too much, because I really like to watch the film and then decide for yourself. But it stayed with me for a very important reason, and I hope it does the same for you.
Your character is shown mostly in a confined space with a lot of kids. How challenging was it to shoot in such a location with a lot of kids, and that too, for an intense film?
That's a very interesting question because when you read it, it doesn't sound as difficult or as challenging as it is when you reach the set. Because there's only so much to it, there's only the geography set as seen in the trailer, it's very clear. Secondly, when you're performing, one of the scenes is okay, but there will be some scenes where you're alone or it's your moment. But throughout, they will be somebody or other you're interacting with, just like in real life, right? That's how you take the energy and that's how the synergy is formed. You perform a scene. Here there was no one, and it's not that easy, but you're constantly connected, you are talking. There is so much space, even technically treatment wise, the way we had to block the scenes and still, at the end of the day, it has to be engaging, it cannot be dented. It came with a lot of challenges, but we worked, and I loved being a part of the entire process. I want to know what's happening and what the treatment of the film is going to be. I have almost everything written in my notes with very bad handwriting, where I marked everything. So before I reach the set, I should be able to imagine my character Naina, how she would be walking in that space, any peculiar eye movement or anything that is very subtly needed and you leave little room for spontaneity as well as improvisation. But a lot of homework and very meticulous work went into it because it can be very challenging as a viewer also. You should never feel stagnant, especially when it's a thriller drama.
Your character doesn't meet your co-stars, and it's through a phone conversation. So how was the whole process of filming A Thursday?
There's a short story about solitary confinement that I read in school. That's where it comes to life. It sounds okay. On paper, it sounds fine. But when you reach that space, there's nobody there, and yet you're connected with all the characters. But when you're physically around the character or other actors, there's an exchange of energy. The scene is built on that synergy between the actors and characters. Or maybe one of those times, you'll have a solo scene or it's a very self-absorbed scene and all those things. But here it was just me, alone in that space.
This is your third film to have an OTT release. Do you miss the thrill of that theatrical experience?
When this film was signed, it was kept in mind that it was going to be for the OTT platform, and rightly so. Right now, where we sit, we cannot guarantee what it's going to be like at the box office. The action entertainers are especially widely loved and appreciated. But for the mid-budget films, small-budget films, or such films, we're going to have to find our own. It takes some time before we find a path or a way back to the theatre. But when the film was made, everybody was like, "We want to see this on the big screen." Of course, that feeling is there. But I'm sure it will happen with some other films, too. But here we are at a time where we were hit with this COVID out of nowhere and these OTT platforms came as such a big relief, a surprise, and a means of support to so many of us. People would have lost, producers, investors would have lost so much money if this platform wasn't there. It finds its way somehow into the audience's rooms, their homes. Now they're waiting and they know it. So that means it's created a set audience for itself, and it's not going to be easy for us. As much as we would like to, eventually, it will happen. It's not going to be easy because two years is a long time for people to develop a habit. If you're given a choice, so for me, as much as I love that experience, it's going to happen soon, I'm sure. But you can dabble between both mediums. Even if there's no box office thing associated with the OTT, you still get to see people's reactions and you still get to know how the film has done. There are barometers to know how your film has been genuinely received. Like how it happened to us with the trailer when it was released. We were just surprised that it got so much love, and we are really humbled by this support, because we need it.
Did it ever occur to you while reading the script that the film is co-related to A Wednesday? The title also made a lot of people think it was a sequel.
I understand the curiosity must stem from the fact that it's the title. Here's a Wednesday, which is a cult film. It was a groundbreaking film, I think, for that time, with the performances, the writing, the direction, and everything else being just so fantastic. But to just put it out there in black and white, no, A Thursday doesn't have anything to do with the story. It's not a sequel, and we would appreciate it if you watched, liked, or disliked it as your prerogative. But watch the film. It is If you already had that in mind while writing your review or anything else, it's not fair because that's not the idea. It's just because of two factors: the title and Ronnie Screwvala, the reason why you probably feel that connection.
A Thursday also features Atul Kulkarni and Neha Dhupia in supporting roles. The film will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on February 17, 2022.