Telugu cinema Reviews

The Ghazi Attack: The war beneath

Rana Daggubati, Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni in the film  

Debut director Sankalp Reddy’s film is pitched as India’s first war-at-sea, underwater film. A large part of it unfolds within a submarine. That is its USP and risk. If there isn’t a convincing story to tell within the confines of those compact cabins, it could get really boring. The hydraulic set looks authentic and the actors befit their parts. There’s also some good storytelling, even if it follows a somewhat predictable arc.

Sankalp gives us a fictional account based on the destruction of Pakistan’s PNS Ghazi by INS Rajput off Vizag coast in 1971 and imagines what it must have taken to bring down a powerful enemy at sea.

The casting is spot on and the most interesting character is Kay Kay Menon as captain Ranvijay Singh. He refers to George S Patton Jr.’s War As I Knew It. He doesn’t want to stay politically correct and die in war to be decorated with medals thereafter. He isn’t afraid of death, but he’d rather bring the enemy down. At the other end is Arjun Verma (Rana Daggubati), a stickler for rules. Somewhere down the line, the twain must meet. Menon is in top form. He has the air of someone who knows his job.

You first see Rana only as a tall, handsome officer who wants to assert himself. He emerges from the shadows gradually to call the shots and see the mission through.

Atul Kulkarni as Devraj is the bridge between Rana and Menon, using persuasion in a measured manner to hold them together. With the slightest of movements and expressions, Kulkarni beautifully conveys everything he has to.

If you’ve watched war films, you know how this one will turn out. The underdog, already on its back foot after a few setbacks, has to drum up all its resources and courage and move to an attacking mode. Ghazi takes that route, with characteristic hairline misses and swift changes in war plan.

You hardly have any room for laughter, save a momentary line or two. Satyadev, Priyadarshi and Taapsee are effective in their parts. Refreshingly, the characters in the Pakistani submarine are not caricatures. It’s a fight between teams of thinking men, each waiting for the other to make a wrong move.

Ghazi stays true to its genre, not giving in to mainstream commercial elements. That itself is commendable, considering we get very few of that kind in Telugu cinema. For a couple of minutes, you’ll see Rana indulge in something heroic when he goes looking for survivors of a wrecked ship, which Menon scoffs at. But even that is neatly worked into the plot.

Most of the time you are looking at characters in submarines. But it’s still a worthy trip to take, with cinematographer Madhie and K’s background score adding to a fine cinematic experience.

This is one of Om Puri’s last films; as we watch him in a brief role as a navy officer, it’s tough to believe he’s no more.

The Ghazi Attack

Cast: Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon

Director: Sankalp Reddy

Music: K


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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 10:04:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/The-Ghazi-Attack-The-war-beneath/article17311402.ece

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