State Of Siege Temple Attack(Zee5)
Directed by Ken Ghosh
To reduce the looming global issue of terrorism to pulp fiction, with the tadka of fireworks and other friction, is akin to making a video game out of the Covid pandemic…archvillain named Covid, etc…you get the picture?
Directed by Ken Ghosh, this feature film very roughly and crudely inspired by the terror attack on Akshardham in Gujarat in 2002 , plays it strictly by the terrorism formula of filmland. The two sides in the messy war are neatly aligned. Once the shoot-out starts there is no room for any kind of subtlety, as the guns boom with the artificially induced kinetic energy of a typical Hollywood survival story….Without the slickness or the intelligent writing.
In fact the writing in this engaging pulp actioner gets so clunky at times that I found myself cringing in disbelief. Let me give you an example. Towards the end when the siege has almost ended our hero NSG hero Major Hanut Singh (Akshaye Khanna) mumbles, ‘Koi khabri hai’. Meaning, someone from inside the temple premise is informing the terrorists of he NSG’s movements.
The next minute Major Hanut is outside a bolted door in the temple, hearing someone whispering into the phone. Clearly, it’s not just the bunch of brainwashed terrorists with bloodshot eyes who have taken over the temple, who are running out time. The writers of this heavyhanded terror tale too are in a tearing hurry to wrap up the siege so everyone can go home.
Barely any character gets the chance to breathe in the script. Akshaye Khanna is as usual impressive in his uniformed role. But even he has little space on the screen , since much of the playing time goes into showing the terrorists gunning down the temple worshippers and gunning for the temple-ates with various potential victims hiding ,cowering , bonding with one another in the hour of diabolic distress.
There is a Caucasian tourist Angela(Kallirroi Tziafeta) who calls the terrorists “animals” in their face. Predictably the “animals” are not impressed by her outburst. There is a callow tourist guide named Chintu whose father keeps begging on the phone with the terrorists for his son’s life. Not one character is given a chance to flesh itself out.
While Akshaye remains a fringe player his colleagues played by able actors like Akshay Oberoi(who makes a fleeting appearance in the prologue) and Gautam Rode get even less to do. Abimanyu Singh as the terror kingpin is a hoot. And poor Manjari Fadnnis. She is lost in the crowd of sharpshooters. Didn’t she know? Terror movies are not a good place for female actors to be. You either get killed, raped or ignored. Samir Soni as Gujarat’s CM looks like he is afraid to let his designer kurta-pyjama get soiled by bloodstains.
The terrorists with names like Farooq, Hanif and Omar speak in Punjabi and are given the luxury of using cusswords liberally (sort of like a supplement to the biryani in jail). The commandos keep their language and operations clean. They are the heroes we are supposed to cheer for. To be fair, the film is not unwatchable. Anything beyond that, it doesn’t aspire to be.