Attacks of 26/11 (September 26, 2008)

Released On: 1 Mar 2103
Directed By: Ram Gopal Varma
Starring: Nana Patekar, Sanjeev Jaiswal, Atul Kulkarni, Ganesh Yadav, Saad Orhan, Asif Basra, Ravi Kale
IPMs Rating: ***
Adults Only but kids over 16 can learn a lot about fruitless violence from this movie

By Meena Yeggina

Ram Gopal Verma is back with a vengeance and how! I always admired Verma for his vision, creativity, style and technique. His earlier films had an innocence and newness which was lost in his later films. However, he continued to dole out film after film, with increased fascination to darker, deeper psyche of humans. After Raktha Charithra which is rumored to have been financed by the underworld, Ram Gopal Verma (after a bunch, of non-mentionable movies) came out with The Attacks of 26/11.

The movie captures you from the beginning. More because of its straight forward appeal, naked narrative and stark reality. I, especially am ignorant of the details of the 26/11 attacks. I did not know the horror of it, which stays in your heart and brain mainly due to the causeless cold attacks on people who are pure innocents, unlike other major attacks in Mumbai which are mostly driven by vengeance, retaliation and carried forward through mob mentality. This attack is pure dread mainly owing to the cold bloodedness and the conviction with which they are conducted without any apparent provocation.

The films stars Sanjeev Jaiswal who plays the role of terrorist Ajmal Kasab, and Nana Patekar as the commissioner of police, Mumbai, with art direction by Uday Singh. The film is a series of tightly packed visions of terror and horror. The viewer is spellbound with shock at the audacity of the killers. The way the terrorists enter the city is scary mainly because it depicts the easy way in which terrorists can enter into a hapless country filled with people, people and more forlorn people. In a country where politicians are fighting more against each other and killing each other and other innocents for money themselves, where is the time for anyone to protect people from outside terrorists? This movie depicts how easily India can be targeted if the killers enter into the country with a suicide mission! Lack of proper machinery with the police, thier ignorance and inexperience in tackling such serious situation is visible very pathetically in this film. Verma brings this fact out albeit very delicately. After watching a grave shoot out with AK 47s by Kasab and his colleagues at thier first target, audience could not help laughing at the pathetic, scared attempts of policemen’s stone throwing and surreptitious sneaking into the restaurant with their lathis. It is clearly evident in this film that police lack any solid training or ammunition to face a dire situation such as this.

Sanjeev Jaiswal as Kasab acts brilliantly as a cruel killer who is also a religious fanatic. Kasab in real life is extremely poor and a petty thief. He has a huge family that has no support system. Netting such young needy people with gray shades is the job of terrorist leaders and Kasab apparently was an easy target. At just 21, with about $2000 dollars promised to his family for his terrorist mission in India, and with die hard religious extremism injected into his young, poor head, Kasab and his partners in crime are like ticking bombs of terrorism and religious fanaticism. Young Kasab, the only terrorist caught alive that night, is really piteous and very ignorant of the Islam that he is so vehemently protecting, according to reports. In the movie, he completely breaks apart after seeing his partners dead bodies. He apparently gave out all the information without much cajoling. It’s sad how such young vulnerable people are used by the big players who are never caught or punished.

I found Nana Patekar brilliant. I loved his performance which is both restrained and volatile at the same time. After seeing this movie I definitely felt that Amithabh Bachchan and Anil Kapoor are over rated. I would like to see more of Nasiruddin Shah and Nana Patekar. A tribute to Ram Gopal Verma is the fact that in the US, audience in a Santa Clara theatre could not stop clapping and cheering when the terrorists were caught and dragged to the police station. Verma builds much tension in this songless (except one wonderful background song) movie and lets it all up in the sensational capturing drama. I also loved the way Kasab passionately describes his religious fanaticism and how Nana Patekar, throwing him on his partner’s dead bodies explains why Islam is high above such misrepresented violence. The attacks of 26/11 are not targeted toward a religion. They are targeted toward humanity.

All most all viewers I spoke to loved the movie, including women. Definitely violent, I closed my eyes several times. But worth the watch and taking time going to a theatre. Kudos to Ram Gopal Verma, and to his fighting and fearless spirit.