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The Attack On Ghazi.....Worth watching but....

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MUMBAI: A lot of things seem to be going right for India and its people in various fields and, suddenly, people have learnt to take pride in achievements of her people in sports, space science, IT, coupled with a newly acquired sense of patriotism over past couple of years. This has been making many filmmakers cater to this new fervour with different genre films.

For instance, films on sports or the biographical films on sportspersons, which never worked earlier, have found favour with the audience to varying degrees, including one, Dangal, even proving to be a blockbuster. That is because these films are based on success stories. As for patriotism, few attempted them but the ones following the 1965, 1971 wars and one after the Kargil did work. The problem with this theme is that the spirit of patriotism is usually comes in phase.

The “Attack On Ghazi” is a film about the single submarine that the Pakistan Navy boasted of during the 1965 and 1971 wars India fought with that country. The submarine, Ghazi, acquired by the Pakistan Navy from the US in 1963, was destroyed during the India-Pakistan war of 1971, following which East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan to become Bangladesh. There is more than one version as to how this super powerful sub sank.

As the Indian Navy claimed it destroyed the sub, the counter version from Pakistan claims it was a case of accident and self-destruction.

The film, The Attack On Ghazi, takes the angle that the sub was destroyed by the Indian Navy.

Ghazi was sent to fight the East Pakistan insurgency, as Pakistan described it then, to enable other ships to carry on with the supply of essentials to the Pakistan army in the East. The only way to deliver these supplies was through sea route around India and Sri Lanka. However, the only impediment for Ghazi was INS Vikrant, India’s multipurpose giant of an aircraft carrier ship, which was blocking the sea route to East Pakistan. Ghazi was meant to destroy Vikrant. However, before it could come anywhere near Vikrant, Ghazi was destroyed.

Kay Kay Menon plays the role of an assertive commander of an Indian Navy submarine which has been ordered to recce the eastern coast of India during the 1971 war. It was not supposed to attack if an enemy ship was sited, just report to the Navy HQ. Menon does not like the idea. His second-in-command is Atul Kulkarni’s character, is in awe of his commander. Also on a special assignment on this sub is Rana Daggubati, who believes in going by the book and never crossing the line of command. Since Menon is a defiant officer, Daggubati is on the job to keep a check on him.

As Menon is the protagonist and Daggubati the antagonist, the early bit of this first ever Indian Navy war drama is about cold war and conflict of ideas between these two. Menon wants to torpedo the first enemy ship he spots because he has seen many jawans, including his young army man son, die because of the politicians’ apathy and indifference. Daggubati wants to wait for orders.

That is when the crew spots the mighty sub, Ghazi. Menon wants to torpedo it immediately while Daggubati is against the idea pending orders from high command. Their torpedo operates on two keys, one each with Menon and Daggubati.

The second half is all about maneuvers between Ghazi and the INS sub outsmarting and out-guessing each other’s positions as torpedo after torpedo is fired. The Ghazi, after all, is supposed to have their best commander in charge, and should not be easy to overcome. The Indian sub has fallen victim to the Ghazi-laid mines, yet the war between the two continues.

The Attack On Ghazi is noble effort to arouse the patriotism. What is wrong is that it attempts all that with a garbled screenplay; while this stuff may not have been seen on an Indian screen, there are quite a few films made in Hollywood about a ship in dire straits.

Since the Indian audience is unfamiliar with the real warfare, let alone underwater submarine duals, some distractions would have helped but there are none: the whole film is about two enemy ship commanders trying to outwit each other. Things get repetitive in the second half.
The underwater filming is not easy, and most of this film is set below the waves but the cinematography is praiseworthy. The direction, though imaginative, falls prey to the elongated script. In the name of music, the film has two mandatory patriotic numbers in the national anthem and Saarejahan se achha….

The performances are sincere and convincing from all concerned. Shining through the lot are Kay Kay Menon, Rana Duggubati, Atul Kulkarni and Rahul Singh. Nassar and Om Puri have brief roles.

Tapsi Pannu has been brought in to the cast for some glam but has really nothing to do; she does not even merit an introduction or a background story.

The Attack On Ghazi is an interesting film worth a look but such films need some encouragement in the form of reasonable admission rates. Otherwise, tough to attract audience as is the case so far with this film which has had poor opening.

Producers: Matinee Entertainment, PVP Cinema.

Director: Sankalp Reddy.

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Milind Gunaji, Tapsi Pannu, Nassar, Rahul Singh.

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