Remember those images of Ram Gopal Varma at the Taj hotel after the 26/11 attacks? The director was at the site of the terrorist strike to do research, but was tagged as insensitive for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. One would have hoped that perhaps he would have used that knowledge and understanding as a reference for this film.
Unfortunately, The Attacks of 26/11 ends up being a confused piece of work that has neither the well researched methodology of a docu mentary nor the dramatics of a feature film. With the first eight minutes of the film already released in advance, we know the story is narrated as a deposition of the Joint Commissioner of Police (Nana Patekar) in front of a jury. Maybe Patekar brings seriousness and street credibility to the project. However, we are subjected to long drawn pauses, slow paced monologues and uncomfortable close ups (RGV’s camera fetish) that serve no purpose whatsoever.
It is a Herculean task recreating those memories and images from that ill fated day. The story begins at sea as we are introduced to the group of armed men all set to wreak havoc and destruction on the city. As the time line moves we visit the hot-spots (Café Leopold, CST station, Cama Hospital, Taj Mahal hotel) where the shoot outs and massacres happened. But the way these events evolve are so mechanical and monotonous that they fail to grip you or even make you uneasy. Using slow motion and camera trickery to show blood spilling out of body parts to show the extent of the carnage loses steam as we see multiple frames with similar shots.
Patekar’s narrative doesn’t work. It simply disrupts the flow, making the pace tiresome. Factually there are several omissions of key officers, places and incidents. Ramu should have high lighted them and gone easy on the over the top climax with Patekar giving Kasab a class in secularism and maintaining the sanctity of the holy Quran (perhaps a little too late in the day?).
Atul Kulkarni is wasted in a blink and miss role. Sanjay Jaiswal who plays Kasab has a few decent moments towards the end. Nana Patekar uses voice modulation more often than needed. It feels like he is subconsciously fighting an actors block through out the film. Ramu should have ditched the commercialism and gone guerrilla if he wanted to accomplish what he set out to do.
The Attacks of 26/11 feels like a over decorated half baked dish that has the right ingredients and toppings but lacks the taste to titillate your appetite.