A war film that keeps you riveted to your seat, says Prasanna D Zore.
For all its technical limitations and over-dramatic narrative at times, The Ghazi Attack ticks all the right boxes for a war film.
One must appreciate debutant director Sankalp Reddy’s sincere efforts in making a film, that for the first time, delves into the depths of the sea, to fish out a story based on a classified mission undertaken by the Indian Navy on the eve of the 1971 war with Pakistan.
The Ghazi Attack has its heart at the right place, but there are times — and these are easily forgettable given the grey areas the film has to cruise through — when over-dramatisation gets the better off Reddy’s helmsmanship.
S-21, an Indian submarine, under the command of Captain Rann Vijay Singh, is ordered to go on a recce to scour the Bay of Bengal for possible Pakistani intrusion based on intel reports that the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is the target of the enemy.
As the S-21 plunges into the depths of the Bay of Bengal in search of the enemy, its hot-headed Captain Singh (played by an over bombastic and loud Kay Kay Menon; sigh!), his calm and poised deputy Lieutenant Commander Arjun Verma (a splendidly restrained Rana Dagubbati; what a surprise!), and Officer Devaraj (an always dependable Atul Kulkarni) play the cat-and-mouse game with the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi, that constantly lurks under water to target, first, the INS Vikrant, and later as they realise the absence of the aircraft carrier on the Eastern seaboard, to destroy the Indian Navy’s Vishakhapatnam naval base.
A major part of The Ghazi Attack‘s first half focuses more on Captain Singh’s determined hatred for the Pakistanis — in a slight aberration the film’s sub plot has Singh’s young son die at the hands of the Pakistanis in the 1965 India-Pakistan war — and his oneupmanship with Verma, which is where the film’s narrative slackens a bit with a lot of uncalled for histrionics, and Kay Kay Menon flounders as an actor, with Devaraj playing the peacenik between two warring commanders onboard a submarine whose sole purpose is to find out the enemy presence in the Bay of Bengal, the second frontier — the first being the India-Pakistan border along the western front — during the 1971 war that saw yet another story of valour unfold, unknown to the Indians because of the classified nature of the operation.
It is the second half of the film that rivets you to your seat and gives you the feeling of being within the claustrophobic confines of a submarine.
The nail-biting tension gripping both the sides of the divide as the two submarine commanders strive to outwit and torpedo each other make for a thrilling experience.
Most interestingly, director Reddy, backed by its producers one supposes, seems to have consciously decided not to explore any kind of romantic angle and force contrived songs on the viewers.
The Ghazi Attack is a riveting telling of a war story and absence of any unwanted distraction is only justified, though one is literally at sea trying to make sense of Tapsee Pannu’s — yes she is a East Pakistani refugee onboard a merchant vessel that is sunk by the Pakistani submarine — presence in this war film.
Nevertheless, if you love watching a war movie, that too about a mission that is mired under the weight of being ‘classified’ and under the sea, the truth about which can surface only exploring the depth of the sea bed, then The Ghazi Attack is a must watch film.