The date is unforgettable. When terror scarred the face of Mumbai in one blood-soaked gash of death and mass destruction. Held to ransom, ravaged by horror, imbued with venom of a genocidal mass murder that made us all question – ‘Why? Why Us?’
That Black Saturday of 26/11, when ten couriers of terror brought in their package of loaded guns, ammunition and a barbarous game-plan of mayhem in Mumbai. This film is RGV’s tribute and testimony to the lost lives, shattered survivors and martyrs of 26/11.
The first-half (docu-styled) shows Joint Commissioner of Police (Nana Patekar portraying real-life Rakesh Maria) narrating episodes of the catastrophe – as it happened. From the militants’ surreptitious entry in the dark of night, to their targets – starting with Mumbai’s hotspot Leopold Cafe; and simultaneously moving onto other locations – Cama Hospital, Taj Mahal Hotel and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
RGV portrays the killings with cruel reality (which the film demands) making it gut-wrenching, but some degree of subtlety could’ve had a similar or even more heart-rending effect. He spares us his exploits of cinematic over-indulgence (read: camera jugglery) for most part, though it’s visible in flashes. There are some sequences, impressively shot (the scene where Mumbai police valiantly nabbed Kasab).
It’s evidently researched; yet, we’re left as observers, watching the rampage rip the soul of the city. While the thought is poignant, the horror isn’t palpable throughout and the execution doesn’t cut as deep as the actual tragedy. No hard steel of emotion ripping into your gut stemming from cinematic brilliance. All action comes to a halt when Jt. Commissioner of Police (Nana, intense and restrained) sets off on a preach-parole, talking about Islam, jihad, good Muslims, mazhab et al – all this while a cuffed and chained Ajmal Kasab ( Sanjeev Jaiswal, who pulls his part decently) is swept in grief over the loss of his partners-in-crime. That’s cinematic liberty, alright, but too aberrated for the moment.
With real facts, figures and even flaws, such is the subject that it shocks, pains and stuns you into silence even now. What RGV’s re-appraisal of that injury does, is remind us that the spirit of the city is indefatigable; inspite of still bleeding hearts.