Release Date : Mar 04,2013
The Attacks of 26/11
Review by : Kaushik L M
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Production: Parag Sanghvi
Cast: Nana Patekar, Sanjeev Jaiswal
Direction: Ram Gopal Varma
Music: Amar Mohile, Kaizad Gherda, Rooshin Dalal, Sukhwinder Singh, Vishal Khosla And Sushil Khosla
Distribution: Eros International

The erratic yet legendary Ram Gopal Varma aka RGV is known for his peculiar choice of stories with movies set around the underworld being his pet subject matter. He is one of those directors who can never be ignored given the love-hate relationship that fans share with him. And for his latest, he has taken a subject matter which immediately grabs our attention – the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008, one which rocked the entire nation and posed a severe test on the nation’s security capabilities.

It looks like RGV might have wanted us to experience the severity of the attacks and that’s why probably he has shown the incidents in such gruesome detail. The entire first half is dedicated to the horrific events that transpired from the moment, a group of 10 Pakistani terrorists from Karachi enter Mumbai through the shores. The shootouts at Leopold Café, at the CST station and the Cama hospital are tough to take even for the strong hearted among the audience. Beyond a point when the film moves to its halfway, we even start wondering why the director is subjecting his audience to such horror of a bloody kind.

After the interval, Nana Patekar (playing Joint Commissioner Rakesh Maria) takes over and lords over the film, particularly in the scene in the morgue with Kasab. The dialogues play to popular mass sentiment in this segment and earn the hoots and whistles from the crowd. Early in the movie, one tends to feel that Nana is too restrained and slow in his dialog delivery in chaste Hindi. But the lion in him comes out of its den towards the end. He even uses some expletives to the desired effect and sends us into a tizzy.

The segment when Kasab is captured has also been shown in a gripping manner and so are the scenes when Kasab is interrogated by Rakesh Maria. We get to know the extent to which Kasab is brain-washed and given a falsified understanding of Islam in the name of Jihad. Nana’s wondrous reactions during this episode are marked. Such scenes show the class that RGV is capable of, even though he has been aided by the performances of Nana and Sanjeev Jaiswal as Kasab. Though the characterization of the terrorists is pretty hollow with just black shades written all over them, Sanjeev is authentic as the evil incarnate Kasab who realizes his foibles as he is finally hung on 21st November 2012.

Acclaimed actors like Ravi Kale and Atul Kulkarni are mere pawns in the bloodbath that unfolds with Ravi playing a crucial little role in the capture of Kasab.

The movie’s production standards are lofty particularly in the shootout scenes at the CST when loads of junior artistes are packed into the station and shot cold-bloodedly. The director hasn’t spared anyone as right from an old man to small children to even a dog, are shot on screen. The scene before the interval, when a cop struggles to walk around the CST with dead bodies around and blood splattered all over, is hard to forget.

The soundtrack just complements the movie’s flow and even the customary weird camera angles of RGV have been kept at bay.

So, on final analysis, the first half of the movie is a true test of endurance - thanks to the horrifying bloodbath that we are presented but the movie makes it up in the second half when good trumps evil. We also feel that RGV could have given more importance to the NSG commandos’ work in bringing the situation under control post the capture of Kasab. Rather than focusing completely on how Mumbai was rocked by terror, RGV could have also devoted some screen time to how Mumbai and its heroes responded to terror, more than just the shots of their sacrifice.

Verdict: An utterly disturbing first half is redeemed by the surge of positive sentiment in the second.