Friday, March 1, 2013

The attacks of 26/11

The Attacks Of 26/11 is a film that is lazy, cheap and arbitrary. Instead of being a salute to the martyrs of 26/11 like it claims in the end it is, the film is an insult to the victims and heroes of the day. It reeks of RGV's arrogance. Harsh words, yes, but I'm deeply hurt. And I feel let down as a viewer, an Indian and a film enthusiast.

I have been a huge fan of Ram Gopal Varma. I quote Satya atleast once every day. I cheered the first time I recognised a Steadicam chase in Shiva, I loved his characterizations of Paresh Rawal in Kshana Kshanam and Rami Reddy in Anaganaga Oka Roju. I convinced people that KSD Appalraju was ahead of its times. And I'm proud that Rathri is a Telugu movie. Even now, despite turning out crap like Adavi, Aag and Department, I wait for his resurrection, grateful for the man who taught me so much about cinema. And when I read comments on Facebook yesterday about how 26/11 is the next Satya, I was elated. Because for the good and the bad, what Ramu can do, only he can. I love the way he doesn't take himself seriously, how he's constantly working on cinema, like its the only thing he is capable of doing, and I'm floored by his cast and crew selection. Digression: Anurag Kashyap is the only contemporary Hindi filmmaker who has a spectacular eye for talent and the ability to utilise it. 

This film is not as bad as his worst films. But I'm shocked to see that 1. he seems clueless as to what form and shape the film has to take, 2. has no natural aptitude to direct this kind of material ( Kashyap's Black Friday and Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty are phenomenal examples in the genre ), 3. has wasted a story with tremendous potential and worst of all, 4. seems disinterested in the making itself. This from a man whose only virtue as a filmmaker was his overflowing passion. Anurag Kashyap, when writing about the making of Satya, makes a statement which perhaps epitomizes Ramu perfectly. He says that all Ramu had going for him on the set, where he was overshadowed by almost everyone else when it came to technical expertise and film making experience, was his fascination and appetite for cinema. Ramu was once the spiritual heir to Scorsese's cinematic fervour. Now he seems bored by it all. 

Personally, I thought, the Black Friday approach would have suited the material very well. Or he could have given it an out and out documentary approach and since he was anyway using real names, he might well have created various sub-plots and tied them all up neatly in the end. 26/11 is neither about facts nor about emotions. It simply takes a stereotyped approach where you know how every character is going to react and assembles the film using off-she-shelf scenes. It would still have been a watchable film, thanks to the subject, had it been bad writing. It, inexcusably, is lazy writing. Technically too, the film stinks. RGV trademarked bizarre camera angles, a loud, irritating soundtrack, inconsistent editing- It looks like a cheap, B-grade film.

But still, its worst sin is not all this. It is its lack of empathy, its conspicuous lack of need to inform or entertain and its vulgar approach to make money in the spirit of yellow journalism. Ram Gopal Varma's The Attacks of 26/11 is as disgusting as those TV commercials that blackmail low-scoring kids and dark complexioned women into buying their products. Only, Ramu handles material that is far more noble. He makes a film that is a disgrace to everyone touched by the attacks of 26/11.  

Avoid it.

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