This fictionalized version of the sinking of Pakistan’s then flagship submarine, PNS Ghazi, on the eve of the India-Pakistan War of 1971 has its occasional moments but loses out as it meekly gives in to larger than life heroism, loud jingoism and over the top national fervor.
On December 4, 1971, Pakistan’s premier submarine, PNS Ghazi, sank mysteriously to the bottom of the sea with all 92 men aboard off the coast of Vishakapatnam. The submarine had entered the Bay of Bengal with the aim of destroying India’s premier aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. While the Indian Navy initially credited Indian warship INS Rajput with the sinking of the submarine, recently more and more of its senior officers have tended to agree with the Pakistani assessment. That an internal explosion destroyed the submarine, causing its mines and torpedoes to blow up. A diving expedition organized by the Indian Navy in 2003, led its divers to believe the same after studying the Ghazi wreckage. The Ghazi Attack fictionalizes the sinking of the submarine by taking the stand that an Indian submarine, S 21, sent on a recce when it was discovered that Ghazi was in the Bay of Bengal, outwitted and destroyed its Pakistani counterpart before she could do any real damage to India.
The ‘alternative reality’ aside, the film begins interestingly enough to draw you in. Director Sankalp Reddy by and large sticks to his main story without diluting it obviously with typical commercial elements. However, the curse of the second half strikes big after an okay enough first one as the film then gets into typical filmi patriotism territory. This is done by utilizing a deliberately rousing background score and playing the National Anthem not once but twice within this half alone with Sare Jahan Se Achha thrown in for good measure. That the Indian soldiers singing the National anthem and Sare Jahan Se within S 21 is heard traveling through water by the officers inside Ghazi a distance away is truly gobsmacking. And by now the new commanding officer, Lt Commander Arjun Verma, has also entered larger than life hero mode as he rather unbelievably and single-handedly causes the final destruction of his Pakistani nemesis after giving a speech on how farmers and civilians can live their lives safely because of the defense forces. Sadly however, rather than the Ghazi, it is the film that sinks faster instead making you question its various loopholes. Does an Indian submarine go on missions without doctors on board? Is there no supporting diving gear on board? How does Arjun Verma jump submarine, save a little girl whom he brings back and then swim back and rescue Taapsee as well all within 90 seconds? The edited sequence itself takes longer time than that in the film.
The acting it has to be said is rather average. Kay Kay Menon still comes off pretty well in small bits as the manic commanding officer, Rann Vijay Singh, of S21 who admires American war hero Patton and doesn’t believe in playing by political protocol. He expertly captures a few of his key moments but unfortunately, enters total ham, bacon and sausage territory in the others. Atul Kulkarni is his usual efficient self as the officer under him while Rana Daggubati is limited and wooden as the playing-by-the-rules Lt Commander who then takes over the operation. Rahul Singh is defeated with his cardboard like villain characterization as the commanding officer of Ghazi. Fleshing him out better would automatically have made the cat and mouse game between the submarines and its two captains that much more clever, exciting and suspense-filled and this is one of the major shortcomings of the film. Om Puri and Nasser, while wasted, still lend some weight to their small roles as senior Naval officers who order S 21’s recce mission.
There’s not much to write about the technicalities. While the camerawork within the submarines is adequate, the VFX is terribly shoddy. All in all, The Ghazi Attack had solid potential to be one of the better war films in India, but unlike S 21, its torpedoes finally fail to hit their target. Let’s just say our Naval officers needed a far better film highlighting their dedicated service to the country.
Hindi, War, Action, Color