The Attacks of 26/11 - Review
The Attacks of 26/11 tries to tackle two questions - Who are these terrorists? And can we face their terror with anything but helplessness? A little tact, a few fumbles. A little beyond the obvious, a few facts edited/changed.
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"What...are these people? What kind of hatred...is this?" Jt Commissioner Maria (Nana Patekar) is as baffled by the inconceivable ruthlessness of the 26/11 attacks as we were on 26 November, 2008. In another scene he's seeking help from the Central Government while the attacks are on, and his helplessness comes through with an exasperated, "I don't know what to do." The thought behind these two sentences reverberate within, even before they have been said out loud. The large space between these lines is what makes any terrorist attack what it is. Its attempt to address these lines is what makes The Attacks of 26/11 a movie worth watching.
Unprepared, untrained, unequipped - that's how any police force would be when facing a terror attack of this nature. It's not that nothing should be done to prepare, train and equip ourselves better, but an attack without any tip, is bound to catch local law enforcement off-guard - people walking around with limitless ammunition, willing to kill or die. Just like when an airplane crashes into a building or several cases of serial bombing. The first half numbs you with episodes of the 26/11 attacks one after another.
In this half though, weird camera angles, ridiculous focus on various statues (Laughing Buddha being the favorite!), loud screeching violins in the background - all annoy and distract. But the content is so close to home that you can mostly ignore them.
The body count too seems exaggerated, be it at CST station or at the Taj Hotel (even if the film uses the Taj lobby as a symbol of all who died or were injured in all other places on that day.) But, throughout you make small connects with people who you could care for - children of course, but police officers and regular by-standers. The connect is obviously because it could have been you or me or someone we know. And Ram Gopal Verma appropriately cashes in on this connect, even if with little finesse. Whether or not the film would be more human, more engaging, if in the hands of another director - I don't want to know.
In fact, that issue remains throughout. Am I connecting with the film because of the characters and how the film is narrated or is it inherent with my connect to the incident itself? Unfortunately, this is something I will never be able to answer. And this will work in the film's favor forever.
Also, I am sure there are many unsung heroes in this incident that didn't make their way into the film. Surely, there are many changes and additions to the events to provide for that bit of drama needed to make a story into a film. Way too many times in the first half, you wonder, "How do they know that happened?" because everyone involved died. Also, the film covers only the events of 26/11 and not the two days after. Yet, that is the cinematic liberty we can allow to a maker who is trying to go beyond just the occurrences of this one event.
The second half has two main scenes which bring about a balance that I didn't think a film on this event could bring about. It would be safe to say that we as a nation are not in the mood to understand the psyche of the terrorist who has the audacity of holding one of our cities at ransom. So, to try to bring about a sermon setting the right from the wrong might be considered a cop-out or brave; filmy or wise - depending on what your stand is.
Surprisingly, I found myself in awe of (lapping up) Jt Commissioner Maria's word-for-word, thought-for-thought, concept-for-concept response in his spiel. All credit to some awesome dialogue writing and an overpowering dialogue delivery. Not to mention, the thought behind the said monologue, resonates with my attitude towards any strong religious sentiment used out of context and as a justification for hideous acts. Someone said it out loud.
It doesn't matter then whether or not the Jt Commissioner actually had such a conversation in real life. Here the director is talking to us, the citizens of this country. And maybe he hopes to reach out to the oddball Jihadi who ends up watching his film.
And if that does happen, the manner in which it is done reaches the viewer's gut and Nana Patekar's performance in that one scene could be enough to warrant a watch. What a relief it is to see him not resort to his typical style, but take a more restrained route. Even without the monologue, one shot where he is offered water shows you he needs no histrionics for a good performance. Here, the close-ups are used brilliantly.
Sanjeev Jaiswal as Kasab induces enough hatred to not want to watch him in any other film again. Then again, that is more because the character is not fictional. Only a few more films will determine whether or not he is a good actor. For now, that the audience was restless whenever he was on screen and abused strongly shows that he didn't goof up.
Despite all that was good about the film, it is difficult to shake off the disgust felt when I heard that director, Ram Gopal Verma had visited the site of the attacks the day after. Insensitive of him, irresponsible of the people who allowed it to happen. The negativity that his visit had brought about, will stay forever and will always be a black mark against his product.
Yet, such films are important. If not to remind us of the difference between the fundamentals of religion and being a fundamentalist, to remind us of questions we should not stop asking our resilient selves, "Are our shores secure today?"
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: Loads and loads of violence and it doesn't help that it all happened in real life.
- Language: A fair amount of abusive language.
- Nudity & Sexual content: None.
- Concept: The attacks of 26/11 on Mumbai
- General Look and Feel: A real-life story with a fair dose of drama.
The Attacks of 26/11 - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: Eros International, Alumbra Entertainment
- Producer: Parag Sanghvi
- Director: Ram Gopal Varma
- Lead Cast: Nana Patekar, Sanjeev Jaiswal, Ganesh Yadav
- Cinematography: Harshraj Shroff
- Editor: Sunil M Wadhwani
- Background Score: Amar Mohile
- Action Choreography: Javed Eijaz
- Music Director: Rooshin Dalal, Amar Mohile, Vishal R Khosla, Sushil R Khosla
- Lyrics: Kalgi Thakar, Rashid Iqbal
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 115 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Based on true life story, Terrorism
The Attacks of 26/11 - Trailer
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