Channel F Entertainment and Anjum Rizvi Film Company’s John Day (A) is a violent thriller. John Day (Naseeruddin Shah) is a bank manager who loses his daughter, Pearl (Arika Silaichia), in an accident when she goes out with her boyfriend, Kanishk (Pavel Gulati), under a false pretext. Two years later, John Day’s bank gets robbed even as his distressed wife, Maria (Shernaz Patel), is hit on the head by a member of the bank robbers’ team so that she slips into a coma.
Police officer Gautam (Randeep Hooda), who has close ties with underworld don Sikandar Hayat Khan (Sharat Saxena), is colluding with Anees Pathan of Dubai in trying to get him the legal papers of Casablanca Estate in India, the place where Pearl had died. Gautam sends his girlfriend, Tabassum Habibi (Elena Kazan), to the bank to get hold of the Casablanca papers but realises that the file (which was in the safe deposit locker of the looted bank) is without the legal documents. Meanwhile, John Day realises that his loving daughter’s death is shrouded in mystery and has a lot to do with the Casablanca Estate scam which took place some years ago. He begins investigating into the scam as he wants to punish the people responsible for his daughter’s untimely demise.
Here, Sikandar Hayat Khan tries to stop Gautam from helping Anees Pathan as the latter is Khan’s sworn enemy. But the ungrateful Gautam is driven by his greed for Rs. 50 crore which Anees has promised him as his fee.
What is the mystery of Casablanca Estate? Does John Day reach his daughter’s killers? Does Gautam manage to lay his hands on the Casablanca Estate documents? Does Gautam earn Rs. 50 crore?
Ahishor Solomon’s story is intriguing and has a lot of twists and turns but the structure of the screenplay is such that it tests the viewers’ patience. To add the element of thrill, Solomon has penned the screenplay in such a way that the audience does not get the whole picture for a long time. This would’ve worked fine if the writer were able to involve the viewers in a guessing game but, unfortunately, the audience gets confused and loses interest as the drama is not half as engrossing as it should’ve been. Oftentimes, the viewer is unable to decide why a particular character is doing what he is doing and this irritates him. Yes, the viewer can understand that it is about Casablanca Estate and that John Day is the honest guy while many others in the drama have ulterior motives, but there are many more questions which crop up in his mind, for which he doesn’t get ready answers.
The characterisation of John Day leaves something to be desired. The very honest John Day is shown to compromise his principles once because he wants to reach his daughter’s killers but he has a different yardstick to judge his close friend, journalist Prakash Nair (Kenneth Desai), when he (Nair) sells his conscience just once – John kills Nair because of this! This kind of contradiction takes away a great deal from the script and makes it a very convenient piece of writing. Similarly, in the climax fight, John Day stands unscathed in the midst of a rain of bullets. How he manages to do so, is not clear.
Viewed differently, there are some scenes of such gruesome violence that they will repulse the womenfolk and family audiences. Also, the entire drama is tension-ridden with no light moments or entertainment, adding to the monotony of the viewers. Ahishor Solomon’s dialogues are natural.
Naseeruddin Shah does a fine job and acts brilliantly. Randeep Hooda is quite good. Sharat Saxena has his moments but overall, gets limited scope. Shernaz Patel is natural. Vipin Sharma leaves a mark as Mangesh Shinde, the unscrupulous aide of Gautam. Elena Kazan, as the always drunk Tabassum Habibi, makes a fair debut. Of the supporting cast, Kenneth Desai (as Prakash Nair), Deepak Shirke (as Wagle), K.C. Shankar (as Anees Pathan), Dinesh Lamba (as Liyaqat), Vikrant Ghosh (as Pramod Pathak), Arika Silaichia (as Pearl) and Pavel Gulati (as Kanishk) make their presence felt. Denzil Smith (as the priest), Sujata Thakkar (as Chitra Nair), Makarand Deshpande (as Krishnan), Bharat Dabholkar (as ex-mayor Deshmukh), Ananth Narayan Mahadevan (as editor-in-chief), Sikander (as Moosa), master Amaan (as the scared child at Liyaqat’s workshop), Nazneen Madan (as doctor), Diwakar Prasad (as bookie Mambo) and Farhan Siddiqui, Firoz, Rajesh Kareer and Ali (all as bank robbers) do as required.
Ahishor Solomon’s direction is quite nice. He has extracted good work out of his actors and has also presented the film well, but it is also a fact that his script is very confusing and, therefore, leaves a lot to be desired. Sandeep Chowta’s background music is good. Cinematography (Prakash Kutty) is nice. Aino Shaikh’s action scenes are too gruesome to be true! Gautam Sen and Shabiya Rakesh’s sets are alright. Arindam Ghatak’s editing is okay.
On the whole, John Day is confusing and boring and has very little to entertain. It will, therefore, not be able to create any mark at the box-office. Its poor opening will only add to its tale of woes.