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LEKHA SHANKAR


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'The Attacks of 26/11'- The Resurrection of the Mumbai Terrorist Killings

Film by Noted Director Ram Gopal Varma
A Chronicle of the Mumbai  Killings - Nothing more, nothing less

 

 

                  

                      

After  the Obama-killing and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’,  the American hostage-crisis and ‘Argo’, it’s now the Mumbai terrorist killings, and  the Indian film ‘ The Attacks of 26/11’.

  The much-awaited film by noted director Ram Gopal  Varma, resurrects the dastardly killings on 26 November 2008, when ten Pakistani terrorists literally sauntered into Mumbai by boat, and killed 166 people,  in three of the best-known spots of the city- the legendary Tajmahal Hotel,  the popular Leopold café,  and the crowded Chatrapati Shivaji railway station .

  Varma visited the terrorist spots almost immediately after the killings , inviting criticism and controversy for his voyeur-like interest .While he extensively researched on the film to get his facts right, the  movie does little more than  mechanically unleash the killings, without any story-line or dramatic tension. If the director wanted to ‘chronicle’ the event, as he said needed to be done, he succeeded. Nothing more, nothing less.  But if he wanted  to capture  the ‘emotion’ of the event,  as he said  he wanted to do, he failed.

 The only emotion the film could possibly elicit, is anger - at the utter ruthlessness of the Pakistani terrorists and  the total incapability of the Indian security forces. But this is not a time to re-open dead wounds and resurrect the pain of the living.  No wonder the film has been panned by the Mumbai audiences.

Nana Patekar, the Jt. Police Commissioner, is the protagonist of the story, who  recounts the killings  in a painfully slow and laboured manner. His  ‘knowledgeable' words about the Islam religion, seems a gimmick by the director  to pacify Muslim  sentiments, in a film where they are totally black. Even more gimmicky, is the use of the  patriotic  ‘Raghupati Raghava’ song and the  holy  ‘Shiva Tandava’ mantra.

The real drama of the  real-life terrorist attack, lay in the  terrible fire at the Tajmahal Hotel, which stretched for many days, and  consumed  the lives of many well- known people. But that important incident  is totally glossed over in the film.

The highlight of the movie is ironically, the performance of  Sanjeev Jaiswal, as the lone  Pakistani terrorist who was caught, and  eventually executed. Not only did he look uncannily like the real-life terrorist Ajmal Kasab , but  ‘acted’ so cold-bloodedly ,that he could well win an award for  ‘Best Villain' , if  there ever  was such an award.  He had better also watch out, and ensure that his dastardly role does not have a negative  impact on his career, or  his life!

 

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About LEKHA SHANKAR

SHANKAR LEKHA

I'm an Indian film-writer, based in Bangkok, and write for publications in India & Thailand. I also coordinate and curate film programs in the two countries, at cultural centres/clubs, film festivals.


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