Review: The Attacks of 26/11
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Cast:Nana Patekar, Sanjeev Jaiswal, Atul Kulkarni
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
The Indian Express rating: **
A boatload of armed men splash up the Gateway of India shoreline, crowded with fisherfolk and shack-dwellers, and melt away to their assigned targets. The attacks that took place in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, showed us just how vulnerable our most glittering megapolis was to anyone with a machine gun, a batch of explosives, and a plan drawn up by a trained terrorist outfit. Ram Gopal Varma's re-creation of that ghastly night of terror and bloodshed brings it all back, in conflicting ways.
The making of a feature film based on 'real' events is always fraught. How 'real' is the film? How close is it to the events that were recorded minute by minute in police files and by live television presence? Varma, who took a walk through the ravaged interiors of the Taj Hotel in the then chief minister's entourage, was roundly castigated ( so was the CM). This was meant to be an official assessment of human collateral and physical damage, not a location recce by a filmmaker. It was a callous, shockingly insensitive thing, and it inevitably rises to the fore when you begin watching : how much of what Varma saw that day makes its way into his film? And what did he leave out?
'The Attacks of 26/11' take us to Leopold Café, the reception area of the Taj Hotel, the vast interiors of CST, and to the hospital, the main spots of the carnage. The film opens on a somber note, with Nana Patekar who plays the part of Joint Chief Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria recalling the events of that night in front of a committee, and the film unfolds in a series of flashbacks. It shows us a city under siege, a baffled administration, and a shell-shocked police force struggling to come to terms with the ferocity and the multi-pronged face of the attack, and the capture of the man who became the face of it, Ajmal Kasab ( Jaiswal).
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