“Its difficult to say whether kasab got more pleasure in killing people or the people who are trying to kill 26/11 are getting more pleasure” tweeted Ram Gopal Varma, director of ‘The attacks of 26/11’ in response to the reviews of his film.
Now before you write me off as an RGV fan-boy defending his idol and ranting on critics, let me share with you folks how the critics would have wanted Ram Gopal Varma to make ‘their’ version of ‘The attacks of 26/11’. The storyline for all these films remains the same – a group of 10 terrorists attack a country, all of them are killed, one is held and he later dies of dengue oops…of being hanged to death. Let me also put a disclaimer that I do not intend to hurt the sentiments of the victims of 26/11 or trivializing the tragedy that shook the nation on 26/11.
Son of Satan
This film will show the lighter side of terrorists, their sense of humour and entertainment. Come to think of it, what kind of SMS jokes or Whatsapp stuff they’d be sharing among themselves? Perhaps a video game of mango people being squashed or ‘Angry Beards’ anyone? They go on a shooting spree and lose their track in the big city and end up being killed. One of them is captured by the police but is not punished as the nation has a tradition of ‘Atithi devo bhava’. So he is kept as a sarkaari mehmaan (literally) and gets bit by a mosquito while Nana shouts, ‘Ek machchar aadmi ko…’ and then he is hanged to death. Rating: ***
Jab tak hai Khan
This film begins with the ten terrorists attacking at public places. A journo follows them, abandoning her cameraman and befriends them in a bid to trap or maybe transform them. She sings a few songs clad in a chaddi and even manages to force the pappu can’t dance salaas to break into a jig and outstretch his arms in the meadows (dream sequence re!). She makes one of the terrorists (played by a Khan of course) remind of his girlfriend whom he ditched for love of god and jihaad. Eventually, the terrorist she has a soft corner for, gets killed by Nana-other than Nana Patekar. One of them is nabbed, gets bitten by a mos..(gosh why do I keep returning to this mosquito angle?) and is hanged to death, while the journo cries. Rating: ***** (Send to Filmfare for Best Film of the Year)
This film begins with the ten terrorists attacking a snoozing nation in the dead of the night. A dog is shown asleep while a cop i.e. Nana doggedly hunts down these terrorists. A hooker keeps approaching him, claiming that she has a setting with the hotel under attack and can get him inside it while the attack is on. He trusts her and sets off to counter-attack the terrorists, only to realize that the hooker was a ghost. Eventually, the terrorists are killed, one of them is caught, gets incarcerated for some five-odd years (was it part of some five-year plan?), gets bitten by…(leave that) and is hanged to death. Rating: *****
This story lists 26 unsung heroes of 26/11 and the entire story is narrated from their eyes. The treatment of this film is like a documentary film and things are kept really subtle. So the terrorist brainwashed with Jihaad sermons is shown smiling (half smiling to be precise) rather than flaring his nostrils. Each of the 26 unsung heroes are shown how valiantly they contributed to the safety of the victims and asks the audience to stand up and honour them in the interval. Eventually in the second half, Nana manages to kill the nine, get one arrested, saves him from the mosquito, yet fails to do so, and the terrorist is finally hanged to death. Rating: *****
Zero dark ten
Now this one’s where Nana is shown as an eccentric personality (like always) and he has this gut feeling that the attack is going to take place. He keeps insisting that they must beef up security near the Taj Hotel, but everyone ignores him. Finally, the attack does take place and he gets the final nod to nab the terrorists. The terrorists get killed, one is arrested, incarcerated for few years and his butt is not only kicked but also shown. It is during this time that he gets bit…okay this time he bites the mosquito. The dying mosquito inflicts him with Dengue, and the terrorist is hanged to death. Rating: ***** (Send to the Oscars for best film in foreign language category)
The attacks of 26/11
The film by Ram Gopal Varma begins with Nana Patekar, in a restrained performance (hence putting off the critics and audience who can’t stop wondering why he is not shouting in frustration). He narrates the entire account of how the attacks actually took place – from his perspective (again putting off the critics and audience – how can a person have a point of view that doesn’t match their wavelength).
The character of Ajmal Kasab has a consistent attribute of ‘jis thaali mein khaaye usi mein chhed karein’, right from the time he kills the fisherman after being guided to a spot in the sea which is 11 kms away from Mumbai, to the time he asks for a glass of water near Cama Hospital and kills the man and his child. The attacks are shown the way they were – brutal and gory minus the so-called ‘subtle treatment’. The director seems to get carried away by his fascination for the ‘swing scene’ in Sholay where Gabbar Singh looks at a child after slaying his entire family. This obsession shows almost thrice in the film (the critics know it best how many times the director actually did it).
The highlight of the film is where Nana explains the true meaning of Islam and Jihaad to Kasab in the morgue (the critics hailed this scene as ‘playing to the gallery’). It would be a spoiler if I share the actual gyaan of Jihaad here. Furthermore, the line, “Islam bahut badi cheez hai. Ise samajhne ke liye tum jaiso ki na to aukaat hai aur na bisaat” sums up the angst of the nation in a single sentence. I am not a fan of expletives in films, but the moment Nana mouths one in this scene, it sounds like a cherry on the cake. The film ends with Nana watching the shores of Arabian Sea while the song, ‘Raghupati Raghav’ plays, evoking enough emotions to make you wish that the prayer was tweaked as ‘Critics ko sadbuddhi de bhagwaan’.
Rating: 0.5, isn’t it?