Despite unique individual efforts, filmmaking is teamwork: 'A Thursday' team shares process of its making

Writer director Behzad Khambata believes the story of A Thursday chose him while Neha talks about challenges of being pregnant during the shoot and Yami about dealing with her multi-layered character

Despite unique individual efforts, filmmaking is teamwork: 'A Thursday' team shares process of its making
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Kumar Raviraj Sinha

'A Thursday' on Disney Plus Hotstar has been making ripples since it started streaming recently. The reason behind it is that besides having a great cast, the story unfolds slowly and sensitively. Raviraj Sinha caught up with the core team of Behazad Khambata, Yami Gautam and Neha Dhupia to know how they built up this nail-biting thriller bit by bit.

Behzad, How do you think this film is different from the flood of thrillers that we have on OTT?

Behzad Khambata: Those are not being liked and this one is. Jokes aside, there are really good thrillers online and today with the power of OTT you can watch 4 films a day. These can be watched anywhere, hence OTT is great place to be for a thriller.

Yami, How do you see yourself amid actresses who have made an identity of themselves in these times when actresses are really getting meaty roles?

Yami Guatam: Yes, that’s the idea. I debuted 10 years ago with Vicky Donor. It sounds really long but feels like yesterday. It is not every time you can choose what kind of roles you want. It took me 10 years to get to a point in my career where I am confident enough to do justice with really good substantial roles, and I hope film makers also trust me with it. It gives me a chance to do something different and surprise the audience. This is a great time, there are a lot of opportunities. It is because the audience is ready, they are eagerly waiting for good content, and we just have to give them that. Gone are the times where movies of only certain stars could gain audience’ attention, nowadays everyone is a star in their might and the biggest challenge is how to stand out. I am happy that I got to voice out what I want to do with roles like Naina and certain others which I have played in the past. I hope this process continues.

Neha, you have been into reality television a lot, So, how is it different from acting in fiction?

Neha Dhupia: I feel like it is completely opposite. Whatever you see on reality show is more or less very true to what’s happening. Fiction is material that’s written and executed by a director. I haven’t been on too many, just one, and I am closest to being myself. I tell everyone that you don’t have to be like me on a reality show, you don’t have to be feisty or competitive, you don’t have to be fighting for what you think is right or have an opinion. The only take away that people should have when they see me on a reality TV, is just be yourself. That’s what I am, I am being myself and they should do the same thing.

Secondly, when it comes to film, I am always trying to be far away from myself as I can. But Behzad cast me in a role which is quite similar to what I am. I think films are a completely different ball game. You have to switch it up switch it down, do what the director expects you to do. In reality shows it is best to be yourself.

Yami, how much time did you take to prepare for this character?

Yami Gautam: Because of the conditions of the past year, there is a backlog of work, time was of essence to prepare for each role which I was a part of. I wish I had X number of days for a film, to make the preparation easy, but that couldn’t happen because the whole line of work gets disturbed. Behzad and I worked on the quality of time that we spent working on the script and understanding the script. It was really important. Every actor has their tone, each of us brings a different feature to the table, so in my case, I had to bring my originality to the character and of course it has to be aligned with your writer and the director. Alongside that blocking was also done carefully, as my character is in a fixed geographical location. But audience shouldn’t feel like its stagnant or it has no dynamic. It worked because, everything was planned and discussed in detail as it could be, and I am glad that it was worth it.

what made you choose this story?

Behzad Khambhata: Well, I didn’t choose it, the story chose me. Because I have written it with a friend. The seed was, what will happen if a teacher takes her students hostage. The two questions were what will happen if someone does that and why. We looked at different social reasons and realized that we will go with the reason that affects us all. It affects our country and every woman in every way. So, I think that is how the entire structure was formed.

How did the idea of making children hostage emerge?

Behzad Khambhata: I think when you involve children, it grabs a lot of attention. When the trailer was launched and revealed that 16 children have been made hostage, it grabbed everyone’s attention. And that hook at the beginning made people stay for the rest of the film.

Neha, It must have been challenging to act while being pregnant, what were those difficulties?

Neha Dhupia: It was very challenging, from the time I was cast as a pregnant cop to the time we finished filming, there was a gap of around 1.5-2 months. A lot of stuff was happening. I was growing everyday and it was getting uncomfortable, but what’s life without a little bit of challenge. The team was lovely, so we managed. Also, I love being on a film set, one way or the other.

How is this role different from the ones which you have done earlier?

Yami Gautam: The response which I am getting is huge and it is because people haven’t seen me performing this kind of role before. This kind of story and film haven’t been made before. So, its very different. There are many layers and complexities in it. This role required a lot more, it is beyond a thriller. I am sure you agree with me, as you have watched it twice. To prepare for a character you must let go of any kind of inhibition.

The idea is to let go and for this character I had to really learn how to let go. For me this was a revelation at many levels. If as audience, you connected with certain parts of a film, because we didn’t have pretence of any kind, you can’t cheat those emotions. And it is lucky to have a director who understands your perspective about the character. It's not possible otherwise, if people find the performance somewhat different and refreshing, it is not only because of the actor but director and the team as well. Film-making is a team work, my work is not just to come on the set and read my lines. I am also interested in other’s parts as well, like camera or how my co-actors are playing their characters. I am invested in the whole film. That’s how I learn and that’s how I get better at my craft.

What are your upcoming projects?

Yami Gautam: There is this film ‘Lost’, it’s an emotional drama with an undertone of investigative thriller. That would be a different kind of thriller from this one. I am playing the character of a reporter. Then there is ‘Dasvi’, it’s about education system with an undertone of humour. It is directed by Tushar Jalota. Next one is, ‘OMG 2’ in which I am playing the character of a lawyer.

I think some exciting stuff is coming up, according to me.

Don't you think you haven't explored yourself enough as an actor? Why so?

Neha Dhupia: I think every actor has a long way to go, and as long as I will get more opportunities, I will keep at it.

Yami continues, “I understand that we have to prove ourselves with each and every film that we do, and I have passed the phase where I was terrified of the question from media, ‘What do you think of it, when this person is doing so well’, ‘Your film didn’t perform well, how are you feeling’. I just want to say take it one step at a time. Also, this film has been a huge step for Neha as an actor.”

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