My Review of THE ATTACKS OF 26/11 (Hindi, 2013)
Ram Gopal Varma has been a hit or miss since his debacle with RGV KI AAG, DARLING and SARKAR RAJ worked while CONTRACT didn’t. PHOONK worked, AGYAT-THE UNKNOWN didn’t. RANN and RAKTA CHARITRA 1 & 2 and NOT A LOVE STORY worked, DEPARMENT and BHOOT RETURNS failed, and now Ram Gopal Varma returns with what is undeniably his most hard-hitting film to date.
I would say this is the best film I’ve seen on a topic like this with the exception of Anurag Kashyaps BLACK FRIDAY.
The film unfolds more like a true story documentary than a film, but due to the sheer brutality of the act of terrorism, the pace and timing that it unfolds, and the unflinching manner it unfolds one is never bored. It is also a true testament that Ram Gopal Varma is easily one of the finest directors there is in Indian Cinema. The entire first half of the movie is just sheer intensity, and even if it was, just for that one single moment, I was reminded of the intensity in Varmas debut SHIVA. The first half of the film works because of its sheer grit and shock value, and the second half for its fantastic dialogue and Patekar and Jasiwals fantastic performances.
It’s brutal, it’s violent, it’s unflinching. 166 people are shot in a calculated manner in what is a religious war. A group of men set shore from Pakistan and enter India on 26/11 and in a timed, calculated, cold and inhumane manner unleash a barrage of bullets on the unsuspecting mass public at core National monuments like the prestigious Taj Hotel.
The sheer nature of the crime sends a chill down ones spine, but I guess there is no other way to tell the story.
Nana Patekar is brilliant. This is easily his best performance since AB TAK CHAPPAN. He underplays his part remarkably well, and in the second half of the movie leaves a lingering mark.
His reaction to the unknown and uncontrollable situation that just wouldn’t stop multiplying at random was subdued and hit the right notes of panic and fear. His subtlety at times reminded me of Mohanlal in COMPANY. A performance for the ages.
Sanjeev Jaiswal as Ajmal Kasab makes a great debut. His facial expressions send a chill down ones spine. He adopts the part to the core and is easily one of Varmas more interesting new finds in new times. Perhaps the most interesting since Abhimanyu Singh (RAKTA CHARITRAm GULAAL).
Atul Kulkarni is great in a short role. Ganesh Yadav as the hero cop who lives on to pass on the information which eventually track the terrorist is fantastic. He in essence, embodies the spirit of teamwork which eventually broke the cell down.
Technically too this is a superior piece of work. The re-enactment of the shootout scenes aren’t something you’d want to see over and over again, but they to capture the sheer intensity of the moment. The camera work is brilliant. In terms of a musical composition and background score (Amar Mohile on fire) which fit seamlessly into the background score and narrative, this is a superior effort than Varmas recent films.
A Must see for everyone. Not the happiest viewing that’s for sure, but an extremely important one, and a true reflection of the times we live in. One of the best films in recent times.
Prashant Harish Hari