Ram Gopal Varma returns to the silver screen with his most ambitious project based on the Mumbai attacks. You go with the expectation that you will see something different than what was shown on TV or reported by media. However it deals purely with the brutality on that fatal night of 26/11.
The film begins with Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria (Nana Patekar) giving an explanation to a committee about his role during the period of the attacks. Immediately the audience gets gripped into a series of events which explain the arrival of terrorists in Mumbai and places targeted by them. The bloodbath and thrilling pace in the first half slows down in the second half after the capture of Kasab (essayed brilliantly by debutant Sanjeev Jaiswal). And you can very well predict its end.
The entire focus is on Nana with certain space being allocated to Sanjeev Jaiswal. A couple of Marathi stars – Atul Kulkarni, Jitendra Joshi, Ganesh Yadav and Ravi Kale (best remembered as Amitabh Bachchan’s right hand Chander in Sarkar) are seen in cameos. A lot of extras have been used. For most of the first half it is plain bullets and blood. Somehow the essence of acting in has been overlooked in a film dominated by violence.
The film is filled with other flaws as well. The attack at the Nariman House is completely ignored. The role of the NSG is restricted to one scene and one dialogue. The woman constable at CST looks more like a model (it was due to her heavy makeup that you could spot her easily in the crowd). The part where the commissioner dons the hat of a philosopher is a bit over dramatic. Plus Kasab feeling guilty of his actions is one of the several creative liberties taken by the director.
However the film has its share of positives. Ram Gopal Varma has reduced his weird camera angles and the excessive background music. Nana Patekar looks calm and composed on screen. You can understand every word uttered by him. Certain scenes have been directed brilliantly including the one at the Taj where a receptionist tries to rescue a child in distress and the panic situation in the dark at the Cama Hospital. Ramu had to make changes in the script post Kasab’s hanging in Pune. He fit that part perfectly into the plot. It is by far his best creation after Rakta Charitra in 2010.
Background score by Amar Mohile is fabulous. The cinematography by Harshad Shroff and M Ravichandran has helped to maintain the pace of the film. The song ‘Maula Maula’ has been put to effective use in the film. All the technicians get full marks for their efforts.
Ram Gopal Varma drew flak for his visit to the Taj post the attacks. He had to face a lot of hurdles to bring this dream to life. Yet he had the courage to make it in the most realistic way possible. It is for this courage that I’m going with 3 out of 5 stars for his film. This film will leave a mark on you. Go for it.