Sunday, March 3, 2013

Who needed this retelling again?

The Attacks of 26/11 is too chilling, too gory, too disturbing for my liking. I’m not sure if Ram Gopal Varma’s showcase of that terrible night needed to be a part of cinematic history at all…not this way at least.
It’s true that making a film on a real-life occurrence was always going to be an uphill task, more so when it involved the grim tragedy in question. But that has nothing to do with my inherent feeling to constantly ask the filmmaker why: Why did I need to see this film when I already had a second-by-second more detailed account from the 24x7 news channels as and when it happened and even post that? Why did I need to see women and worse, indications of children being shot when I already know from newspapers, of the way this blasphemy unfolded? What did we achieve by bringing to the forefront once again the helplessness, the terror, the sheer sadness that is enveloped in the director’s over-fascination with blood and gore?

The film recounts incidents in flashback narrated by Nana Patekar who essays the role of the then Joint Chief Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria. Patekar was the one aspect of the film, one could have bet would be top-class. Sadly, he is not. The actor is reduced to really slow dialogue delivery and long-drawn preaching of secularism. Sanjay Jaiswal as Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab is eerily similar, in looks, to the slain terrorist and is promising, as an actor, in parts. But mostly he and the actors enacting the other terrorists are just shown wide-eyed with a menacing smile.

In parts, mostly towards the beginning of the film, RGV does succeed in building a sense of dread. You know what’s going to happen and yet you’re almost wishing it doesn’t!
And then you remember Varma accompanying the then Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh’s entourage to Taj Mahal Hotel (Mumbai), on a damage survey he had no right to be on. He may have cried hoarse denying that it had anything to do with film research, and yet here you have it: a dry, filmi, pointless account of 26/11; patent RGV style.

Note: This review first appeared in the March 2 edition of The Financial World.

You can view it here:
and here:

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