The Ghazi Attack: Missed targets

India’s first underwater war film is also about the clash of personalities at sea in a crisis

February 17, 2017 08:26 pm | Updated February 19, 2017 08:03 pm IST

A long voiceover by Amitabh Bachchan about the history of Indo-Pak wars and the creation of East Pakistan gives the ‘real’ context to the long disclaimer that the The Ghazi Attack is a work of fiction.

Inspired by the mysterious sinking of Pakistan’s flagship submarine PNS Ghazi in the 1971 war, the film spins a fictional tale about a classified Indian Navy operation. Not the stuff of history books but a determinant one for the future of India, as one of the characters, Lieutenant Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati), puts it.

It’s all about how the Indian Navy stopped Pakistan’s covert game before another Dwarka could happen (another throwaway reference, this time to Operation Dwarka of Pakistan Navy in the 1965 war).

It’s a straightforward, chronological, well-acted and intermittently engaging watch, which tries to stir the right patriotic feeling in keeping with the times, down to the appropriation of the national anthem, Sare jahan se achcha and Bharat Mata Ki Jai chants within the film.

Of course, there can’t be much action and thrills when the film has to unfold in the limited space of an underwater submarine. So the drama, at one level, is created by the conflict and clash of the widely different approaches of two senior officers — the aggressive Captain Rann Vijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and Arjun who would rather wait for orders from the top command — towards tackling Pakistan’s infringement. Then there is the third officer Devaraj (Atul Kulkarni) – the balancing act between the two.

The crisis-at-sea-and-the-war-against-Pakistan narrative almost threatens to turn into one about a clash of personalities, egos and cussedness in which even General George S. Patton’s memoirs, War As I KnewIt also becomes a bone of contention. Meanwhile, you wonder that if this be the state of discipline in the armed forces, do we need an enemy at all.

A sad looking Taapsee Pannu is a token female (Bangladeshi in fact) presence, seemingly there just as a proof of Arjun’s bravery — having saved her in the high seas. For a change, the enemy is not shown in an entirely bad light. A character, in fact, talks of them not being impotent but by the end of the film their missed targets and rogue torpedoes do become a joke of sorts.

The Ghazi Attack (Hindi)

Director: Sankalp

Starring: Rana Daggubati, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni

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