Saturday, February 18, 2017

Movie Review: The Ghazi Attack

On the sidelines of the much written about 1971 war, another intense battle was fought in the deep, murky waters of the Bay of Bengal - between the dreaded Pakistani submarine, the PNS Ghazi, and an Indian submarine, the S-21. Tasked to take out the INS Vikrant, which was proving to be impossible to tackle for the Pakistanis seeking to send supplies for its army in the East, the Ghazi runs into the S-21, sent on a recce mission with clear orders not to engage. With radio communication down, and the sub severely crippled by a cunningly placed mine, the sub's brave crew will need nothing short of a miracle to come on top in a deadly game of cat and mouse!

In shots and sequences reminiscent of that other wonderful sub movie "The Hunt For Red October", The Ghazi Attack scores the full monty on the screenplay in the cramped, really authentic-looking interiors of a 70s sub, and the maneuvers as the two commanders pitch their experience and skill against each other. The performances, led by Kay Kay Menon, Rana Daggubati and Atul Kulkarni as the S-21's officers, are honest and restrained, and Taapsee, in a tiny, special appearance, adds just the wee bit of color to the drab interiors of S-21. The only let down are the pot-bellied officers of the Southern Naval Command (notably Om Puri in a distinctly uncomfortable role) and the unshaven, unkempt, disheveled crew of the S-21, more likely to be found in fishy fishing boats fishing for fishy stuff in enemy waters!

To the credit of the SFX and camera team, most of the sequences underwater look authentic, although a couple of Titanisque shots could have been done much better. The movie has not one, but two renditions of the national anthem, and the Supreme Court ruling allowing citizens not to stand up for the anthem if it is part of a movie will seem to have come at just the right time for many!

Like the longest disclaimer in the history of movie-making claims at the beginning, the movie is a fictionalized version of the events, and the real truth may never be known. This was a classified mission, and the Pakistanis claimed the Ghazi sunk due to an explosion on board. But that shouldn't deter you from raising a toast to the brave soldiers of the Indian Navy! 

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