|In a bid to keep it short and err, definitely not sweet, RGV’s version perfunctorily focuses on the attacks on the four most popular areas, Café Leopold, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Hotel and Cama Hospital.
To start with, The Attacks of 26/11 comes much later in the time by when there have been many adaptations through films, documentaries as well televised series. Hence it is but fair for the audience to expect nothing less than a water-tight, highly informative and emotionally stirring depiction of the event that shook the nation. However, RGV’s attempt at capturing the appalling event can easily be divided in two parts – one that merely projects a reenactment of the terror attacks and the other that takes a preachy stance, demystifying the true essence of Jihaad and Muslim religion for the nth time.
There isn’t an iota of doubt that encapsulating the callous attacks of such grave scale could be an easy task for any filmmaker. However, the tragic occurance was far from a mere series of events. Only if our Indian filmmakers could go beyond the basics, like Katherine Bigelow, and present a far more informative and well-researched cinematic adaptation of the attacks.
Ram Gopal Varma instead resorts to some of the most cliched means by deploying some jingoistic elements, some blood spewing, in-your-face gore, long monologues on Shahadat, hell and heaven by Kasab and then a preachy, almost bore-you-to-death monologue on Jihaad by Rakesh Maria towards the end, that too in the morgue standing atop the plastic-wrapped rotting dead bodies of the terrorists to add to the effects and gives a highly Bollywoodish melodramatic touch towards the end with the usage of the musical piece Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram making people stand in the memory of the ones lost.
To throw in some face value to the film RGV also ropes in Atul Kulkarni for a cursory appearance mostly to take a few bullets on his chest and fall flat on the ground in a perfect, actor-ish pose.
Although very insipid in representation, your respite comes in the film with RGV moving away from his rogue cinematography tactics. Although his camera does go bonkers in the initial sequences of the boat where the camera appears to be getting squashed like a tire between two boats, RGV soon controls and represses his urge for the headspinning shots.
If that be the biggest highpoint of the film considering some of his previous works, even his representation of certain elements deserve to be lauded. For example, the way people reach out to help the victims of Leopold Café is shot brilliantly and celebrates the spirit of Mumbai. Also the portions that show JCP Rakesh Maria’s vulnerability of being inept to handle such a mortifying situation are commendable.
Nana Patekar as Rakesh Maria finds it difficult to come to his elements with all the languidly spoken dialogues but you do see glimpses of his excellence during the scenes of attacks. Debutant actor Sanjeev Jaiswal is impressive as Ajmal Kasab and gives a crackling performance specially in his interrogation scene.
The Attacks of 26/11 may certainly not be a film that will go down in the history as an epic adaptation of the ghastly terror attacks but it sure isn’t also a film that doesn’t move you at all. I give the film 2.5 stars
By Swati Rohatgi