Updated: February 16, 2017 2:31:14 pm
The Ghazi Attack movie cast: Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Singh, Om Puri
The Ghazi Attack movie Director: Sankalp Reddy
The Ghazi Attack movie rating: 1.5 stars
“ALL people associated with this film are law-abiding citizens.” Yes, films have come to that now. The Ghazi Attack starts with this disclaimer, before going on to declare that its intention is not to outrage or offend anybody, that it doesn’t in any manner support the expressions used by its characters, and that it makes no claim to historical accuracy.
Pakistan must be relieved.
Among other things, the film’s lead protagonists make fun of, and then decide to ignore, higher-ups over decisions such as attacking enemy ships that could start a war. “Really, you are that kind of a soldier?” scorns Capt Rann Vijay Singh (Menon, hamming to his heart’s content), advocating a response instead that would gladden many a Trump heart.
The words “surgical strike” don’t get mentioned, but that may only be because, as the promotions point out, this is India’s first underwater war film. Borders are harder to tell on sand, even as Indian and Pakistani submarines indulge in quite a death dance — bobbing up and down sea depths.
At the centre of the story lies the mysterious sinking of Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi during the 1971 war. The film projects it as an INS Rajput vs PNS Ghazi submarine battle — which is disputed — and calls it an Indo-Pak war you don’t know about.
There are stories within stories, and so there is the aggressive Capt Singh, the pragmatic officer Arjun (an impressive Rana Daggubati), Singh’s loyal second-in-command Devaraj (Atul Kulkarni) and two measly Bangladeshi refugees (including Taapsee Pannu) plucked from the sea by the brave Arjun himself.
While Singh and Arjun are playing out their power games, with Singh repeatedly mocking Arjun and his “political masters (including Om Puri, as the head of the Eastern Naval Command)”, PNS Ghazi is quietly making its way to the Bay of Bengal. The Navy gets a clue about Pakistan’s designs, and sends in S-21 (INS Rajput) submarine to “just keep a watch”. Which Singh — toting ‘War As I Knew It’ by American General George S Patton — dismisses as stupid, for brave soldiers must attack on sight.
Clearly, some amount of effort has gone into understanding the makings of a submarine, running of a ship, and even firing of torpedoes and laying of landmines at sea. The film doesn’t cut corners on underwater shots of ships damaged, leaking, hissing and sputtering as they turn leeward and starboard, even though the first shot of Singh and Arjun first heading out to sea is Titanically fake. At the same, all Naval soldiers are unshaven, unkempt, and sweat at the possibility of going food-less for a day. A snarling Rahul Singh plays Pakistani captain Razzaq with as much dishevelled splendour.
You know how a film that strategically deploys — literally — Jana Gana Mana, Saare Jahan Se Achcha and the Tricolour will end. But for a while, The Ghazi Attack shows us glimpses of a crisis-at-sea film it could have been.
However, there are too many Pakistanis to slay, and too many torpedoes to fire, to care for niceties. In all, eight-odd are fired, two-odd hit. What happened to the other six? Who is counting?
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