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RGV's back with "The Attacks of 26/11" : Review

Three words are sufficient to sum up Ramgopal Varma's The Attacks of 26/11 : Brutal, Barbaric & Brilliant. But I'll prattle along.

What transpired on that fateful day when 10 men terrorized a metropolis populated by more than 20 million? How did commoners react? How did the security forces respond? What inspired these men to perform such an heinous homocide in which even children, woman and elderly weren't spared?

RGV answers these best within the cinematic constraints and leaves us thoroughly disturbed by the end. The mood is however uplifted as we recollect the exceptional bravery exhibited by our police-forces and the humanity displayed by Mumbai-people amid such a crises.

The gruesome cold-blooded murder of the captain of the fishing trawler [which was hijacked in sea and used subsequently to enter Mumbai] sets the tone for the movie. The clinical precision with which the plan is executed leaves us spellbound.

The machine-like mentality of the terrorist is in full display on occasions like these : 1) In Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), they first throw a grenade with the express-intent to create panic resulting in chaos which would enable them to kill more people. One guy advises the other to not show mercy on children & women. 2) In Cama Hospital, when a guy aimlessly shoots few bullets, he is advised by his friend "not to waste bullets". 3) Killing of a slum-dweller and his 2-3 year child after receiving water from him. 4) Silencing a crying child after killing the receptionist whose efforts to save the child are in vain.

In sharp contrast to these abominable acts, is the chivalry of the police forces & people. The scene in which the character of Atul Kulkarni, fearlessly wades through the blood-soiled CST but is unfortunately gunned down is highly efficient. One of the highlights is how an unarmed Tukaram Omble (assistant sub-inspector) managed to arrest the lone-terrorist taken alive; when he realizes too late at arm's length (literally) that Kasab although injured isn't dead and is already aiming his rifle towards them, he holds on to his rifle steadfastly, helping others to disarm Kasab in which process he receives several bullets and is killed.

Nana Patekar [in one of his career-best performance] portrays the fear, helplessness, rage & determination of the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Rakesh Maria, solidly. You can see his utter helplessness in the initial phase, where he is at loss to understand how to tackle this unprecedented situation. His confusion is slowly overtaken by his sense of duty which compels him to act through resources at his disposal and his deft interrogation of the Kasab [the lone terrorist taken alive in custody] supplies him information that he forwards to  National Security Guards (NSG), which are ultimately handy in killing the remaining terrorists.

Special mention should be made of debutant Sanjeev Jaiswal [a theatre-artist earlier] who plays Ajmal Kasab, the lone-survivng terrorist in the attack, later awarded death penalty by court and hanged in Nov 2012. His innocent face acts as a perfect foil to his barbarous deeds. The scene where he explains the motivation of his acts -  to serve the cause of Islam – is brilliant. The cool manner in which he explains about the glory in jehad, of his impending ascent to heaven facilitated by angels as his reward makes you nauseous with contempt. His totally indoctrined mind is at once the source of both amusement & disgust.

RGV reserves his best while narrating the final confrontation between Nana Patekar and him (Kasab).  RGV's mastery on storytelling is evident as Nana makes a forceful argument about the futility of Kasab's actions and how indoctrination prevented the latter from understanding the obvious – there is no glory in killing innocent people. Quoting eminent Islamic sources, Nana apparently dispels the perverted notion of jehad which finally stirs the conscience of the till-then supremely self-assured Kasab.

The Attacks of 26/11 is easily one of the best movies of RGV and will be long remembered for the realistic representation of the sequence of events beginning on 26 Nov 2008 that plunged the financial capital of India in chaos and shook the nation.

The film doesn't leave one despondent, although it  does end with a poignant note.  It pays a  rich tribute to our security forces who despite being inadequately prepared and equipped to face the contingency saved the day with their heroic & selfless efforts.

Watch The Attacks of 26/11  to get a feel of one of the most audacious terrorist attack on Indian soil and how people rose to tackle it. You will end up thanking Ramgopal Varma for re-telling the story with such perfect finesse and keen attention to detail.


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