Review By : Komal Nahta
Star rating: 3
Business rating: 1
Eros International and Alumbra Entertainment's The Attacks Of 26/11 (A) narrates the Bombay joint commissioner of police's (Nana Patekar) account of the terrorist attacks on the city on 26th November, 2008. The film begins with the joint commissioner recounting the events of the dreaded night in front of a committee. It ends with the hanging of the sole terrorist, Ajmal Kasab (Sanjeev Jaiswal), who was arrested. The film shows in graphic detail the killings by terrorists at several landmarks of Bombay including Leopold Café, Taj Mahal Hotel, CST Station, Cama Hospital and other places. It also shows how Ajmal Kasab was arrested and ultimately the end that awaited him.
Rommel Rodrigues has penned a story based on true-life incidents and his screenplay is fast-paced and engrossing. While some scenes are chilling and leave the audience staring in disbelief, there are others which evoke claps. Instances of the clapworthy scenes are: the one in which constable Tukaram Ombale (Sunil Jadhav) lays down his life but does not let go of Ajmal Kasab; the one in which the joint police commissioner lectures Ajmal Kasab in the morgue where dead bodies of his (Kasab's) terrorist-friends are lying; the one in which he forces Kasab to embrace a dead body; the one in which he hurls the choicest abuses at Kasab; the one in which he explains to Kasab what is written in the Quran; etc.
Since the drama is humane and the real-life terrorist attacks had shaken the entire world, the film often touches the heart and shakes the viewers. On the flip side, there is so much bloodshed, violence and gore that many ladies and the weak-hearted will find it difficult to stomach all that. Also, as the drama moves on a single track, it will be found to be monotonous by that section of the audience which watches films for all-round entertainment. It has a docudrama feel to it, and the Indian audience is not used to watching docudramas. Nevertheless, the class audience will love the no-holds-barred narration. Dialogues, written by Rommel Rodrigues, Rashid Iqbal and Prashant Pandey, are excellent although it must be added that a sizeable part of the film is devoid of dialogues.
Nana Patekar gives a fabulous account of himself as the joint commissioner of police. He is terrific in every single scene. Sanjeev Jaiswal does a fine job as Ajmal Kasab. Atul Kulkarni (as police inspector Shashank Shinde), Saad Orhan (as Abu Ismail Khan), Ganesh Yadav (as Amar Solanki in Kuber boat), Jeetendra Joshi (as constable Nalawade), Ravi Kale (as Jadhav), Farzad (as owner of Leopold Café), Shahab Khan (as inspector at Cama Hospital), Girish Joshi (as inspector at control room), Anirudh Harip (as doctor at Cama Hospital), Sunil Jadhav (as constable Tukaram Ombale), Asif Basra (as the taxi driver) and Vikas Srivastava (as inspector) lend admirable support.
Ram Gopal Varma's direction is very inspired. He has remained true to the script and has made a heart-wrenching film about the attacks which killed hundreds and shook an entire nation leaving life-long scars on its people. But, it must also be said that he has taken up a subject not many in the public may be interested in watching on the screen because of the terrible memories associated with it. Had the film's budget been very limited, his exercise may still have been worth the effort and the monies involved. But the budget of the film is far from modest, and that is a big problem area. Javed-Aejaz's action scenes are as raw as they ought to have been to churn the stomach. Harshraj Shroff and M. Ravichandran's camerawork is marvellous. Amar Mohile deserves kudos for a very appropriate background score. Sets (Udai Prakash Singh) are superb. Sunil M. Wadhwani and Ajit M. Nair's editing is razor-sharp.
On the whole, The Attacks Of 26/11 is a very well-made film but one which will be loved by the intelligentsia only. Unfortunately, the film will not realise its true potential because a lot of people would not like to relive a chapter in the life of India, which was horrific, to say the least. The film's collections in the good multiplexes are bound to pick up by strong word of mouth but that won't at all be enough to make profits because of three reasons – the huge budget (around Rs. 25 crore has been spent to make, promote and release the film), the restricted appeal of the film, and the very poor start it has taken.