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.
tagline says, ‘The war you did not know about’. But I’d say, it’s the war you
need to know about.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
history is witness to the fact that it was Ghazi that was ultimately blown to
smithereens while sneaking around the Bay of Bengal.
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.
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?”
a film that offers no masala except the excitement of war history, The Ghazi Attack gets a 3.5*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author