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The Ghazi Attack  : Submerged War story
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Friday, February 17, 2017
Sankalp Reddy
Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Milind Gunaji

This is for all those who look wistfully at the West and moan about Indian cinema not showcasing slices of Indian valour during wartime.  For here’s a historic piece of celluloid that stays the course in its sincere attempts at authenticity. It rarely steers away from dramatically re-telling what happened to PNS Ghazi, the Pakistani submarine that mysteriously sank in the Bay of Bengal in 1971.  


The tagline says, ‘The war you did not know about’. But I’d say, it’s the war you need to know about.


When Indian submarine S21 is despatched into the Bay of Bengal on a confidential recce mission, there’s tension within and without. Captain Rann Vijay Singh is an impeccable officer, if only he weren’t so headstrong. To ensure that he doesn’t turn the search operation into a watery grave for the Pakistanis and trigger off a war, the authorities send Lieutenant Commander Arjun to keep him in check. Caught between them is Second-in-Command Devaraj who admires his captain but also understands that rules must be followed. Director Sankalp who makes a sure-footed debut, maintains a credible balance between the Captain and the Commander, each justified in where he stands. 


It takes an actor as effective as Kay Kay Menon to make you wince at the captain’s uncompromising commands to the team even as he wins your admiration for being such a sterling officer. It makes even starchy Arjun forget the rule book and speak the language of the captain which is, don’t wait for permissions, just get the enemy. Captain Rann Vijay’s bible is a book on General Patton and his favourite line is, ‘Winning a war is not about laying down your life but about making your enemy lose his’.


When Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi slithers into Indian waters with INS Vikrant and Visakhapatnam as its target, the battles within the Indian sub melt into admiration for one another. They’re united by one mission: to torpedo the stealthy enemy and safeguard India.


In the cat-n-mouse underwater war between the two submarines, the director once again keeps the balance. If Rann Vijay and Arjun are exemplary officers second-guessing the enemy’s moves, Pakistan’s Commander Razzaq is just as efficient in mapping where the Indians are.


But history is witness to the fact that it was Ghazi that was ultimately blown to smithereens while sneaking around the Bay of Bengal.


Director Sankalp recreates the ambience, the camaraderie, the rank wars, the grief of loss and the tensions inside a submarine like a war veteran. But stumbles in bringing aboard a female civilian played by Taapsee Pannu. She has no role to play in the film or in the war. Rahul Singh marks his presence as the Pak officer. Atul Kulkarni excels as always as the balanced Devaraj while Rana Daggubatti has the required body language to play Arjun with bravado. But what weak dubbing for such a hunk.


There is the mandatory overt patriotism like bursting into the national anthem but also a few unexpected lines. Like when the Indian sub moves up and down dodging every torpedo that charges at it, the Pak officer stomps with frustration, “Is he a captain or a liftman?”


For a film that offers no masala except the excitement of war history, The Ghazi Attack gets a 3.5* rating.      


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author


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