Movie Review
The Ghazi Attack:Chasing Hollywood, one baby-step at a time

Direction: Sankalp Reddy Screenplay: Sankalp Reddy, Niranjan Reddy, Gunnam Gangaraju Dialogue (Hindi): Azad Alam

In 1971, a Pakistani submarine called the PNS Ghazi ventured into Indian waters with the ambition of destroying the INS Vikrant, only to be stopped by the Indian submarine S-21. It is the war you did not know about. 

With this one-liner, debutant writer-director Sankalp Reddy got the hook right. He only had to carry out the tougher task of getting the script and the filming right. But the idea had all the classifications to make it a forbidden territory for 99 percent of Indian filmmakers: War, Undocumented history, Armed forces and Underwater. The Ghazi Attack was a challenging and ambitious proposition from the word go.

Heartening to see that Sankalp and his film, both do well at many grounds and fairly succeed in keeping one hooked. It’s a slick production, with ample technical detailing and decent VFX. It has its flaws, too, and struggles to nullify a first-timer’s lack of prowess with his passion. However, there are only a few weak departments like writing (not the plot but character development), acting (slightly out of tune) and dialogue (too obvious). If you’re not too demanding, you’ll surely award brownie points for the freshness of idea and won’t get to complain at all.

The time is 1971, when what is known today, as the Bangladesh Independence war is about to break. Tension is simmering between East Pakistan, West Pakistan and India. The Navy commander (Late Om Puri) is briefed about the worrying messages intercepted by the intelligence. Immediately, submarine S21- INS Rajput, is sent on a classified mission in the Bay of Bengal to check for Pakistan army’s suspicious activities.

The orders are clear and firm: Do not attack first. But, Captain Rann Vijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) is too hotheaded to sit calm and this is why Lt. Commander Arjun (Rana Daggubati) is given the responsibility of keeping things under control. A triangular power-equation between these two and the third officer Devraj (Atul Kulkarni) stretches over much of the first half. The dilemma between ethics and survival instincts could have attained a great dramatic peak but it vacates the stage for the combative second half. Soon, an engaging cat-and-mouse chase ensues between the two submarines, each wishing to annihilate the opponent. You can predict what happens but it’s an exciting ride nonetheless as the plot-twists play out well.

The story is inventive and has enough rising tension to hold it till the end. The operative details of the submarine and the navy seem spot-on. Where the script of The Ghazi Attack falls a little short is, actually, the characters and their individual arcs. There is little depth in them and the character development, in the second half, is imprecise. Rann Vijay has a backstory and is little more outlined than the others, but his arc is inconsistent. There is no background for officer Arjun’s character and he remains a typical filmy hero. Devraj only has little opinions on the things going around and remains functional - just like rest of the officers in the submarine. Then, the writer has tried to force two extra characters - the East Pakistani refugee (Tapsee Pannu) and a child, into the plot and that is what becomes the weakest spot. However, and to be fair, it only suggests that finding the right mix of everything in a script is perhaps one of the most elusive things on planet.

Watch The Ghazi Attack if you like different, ambitious films and relish stories of war and combat-missions. It’s not a breathtaking film. But, if it earns well, it can lead the way for a similar breakthrough film.

   Dinkar Sharma

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