Verdict: An intriguing story told by a stellar cast.
War stories intrigue us. To hear about our men in uniform on the battle lines protecting us incites the patriotism within us. Submarines are an interesting and a rare setting for a movie. There are very few Hollywood movies that are set in a submarine but none in Bollywood yet. The Ghazi Attack is one of those and it successfully stands apart in the war movie genre. The movie's tagline says, this is the war you did not know about and it delivers on that. A war is not always just fought on the land. The Air Force and Navy also have a huge role to play. This movie is the story of one such battle fought between two submarines of India and Pakistan in what is termed to be the shortest war in history.
Amitabh Bachchan's voice briefs us of the turbulent times as the movie opens. We are then shown Pakistan's Naval Command strategizing how to deliver supplies to the Pakistani forces in Bangladesh (East Pakistan). They decide that INS Vikrant has to be destroyed and send their most decorated submarine PNS Ghazi on the mission. The Indians intercept a message that doesn't specify the target but alludes to an attack on the Eastern Coast. Thus S-21 is readied to do a recce mission to confirm the message's authenticity and severity. India had until that point refused to be a part of the civil war in East Pakistan. The S-21 is captained by Captain Ran Vijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and he is joined by Lt. Commander Arjun (Rana Daggubati) and Executive Officer Devaraj (Atul Kulkarni). All seems well in the waters as they sail from point to point until the sonar picks up an echo. What ensues is a story of a gripping battle that will leave you glued to your seats.
The disclaimer before the movie begins makes it more than clear that this is a work of fiction. There are multiple stories surrounding PNS Ghazi's sinking and the movie portrays the Indian version. It is hard to imagine that this is Sankalp Reddy's debut as a director because he has created a masterpiece, something that seasoned directors hope to achieve. He has put together a stellar cast and made sure that they deliver their best performances and keep things authentic when it comes to the era. The submarines are expertly designed on the outside and the inside.
Kay Kay Menon plays a trigger-happy Captain whose only aim is to destroy the enemy before they destroy us (and who uses the book 'War as We Knew It' as his Bible) shines through the first half. There are times when you disagree with his views but as layers and his motives are uncovered you develop a great respect for the character. As much as Captain Ranvijay Singh shines in the first half, it is Rana Daggubati who owns the second half with an incredible performance and the transformation his character goes through the course of the movie. Atul Kulkarni's character acts as a foil when Captain Ran Vijay Singh and Lt. Commander Arjun Varma are at loggerheads with each other. The scenes featuring Om Puri are bittersweet as we know we won't be seeing more of this magnificent actor. Rahul Singh as Captain Razzaq of PNS Ghazi puts his best act forward.
The movie loses a little focus as the second half begins but again with a nail-biting climax keeps you hooked. Although in our hearts, we know the eventual result as these submarines fight head on, the tension that arises is intense. Taapsee Pannu as Ananya is wasted here with not much to do.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
A brilliant star cast executing an intriguing story should not be missed. If you love war films, this is a noteworthy addition to the genre. Also watch it to know more about the lesser spoken of yet very important battle between India and Pakistan.