The Ghazi attack reminded me of Crimson Tide, the 1995 American submarine film directed by Tony Scott. In the American film a new executive officer clashes with a seasoned commanding officer of a US submarine due to conflicting interpretations of an order to launch their missiles. In Ghazi Attack, the clash is between Lt. Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati) and Captain Ranvijay Singh (Kay Menon) because the former has been ordered to ensure orders from Headquarters are followed while the latter wants to hit the enemy whenever the opportunity presents itself.
In this film, however, the personality clash is only incidental and soon gives way to a cat and mouse game the Indian submarine S-21 plays with the Pakistani counterpart PNS Ghazi. This is perhaps the first Indian film on under-water warfare and director Sankalp Reddy smartly educates with details of maneuvering a submarine in the narrative.
It is not easy to grab the viewer’s attention when the camera is confined to the claustrophobic confines of a submarine. The riveting story certainly helps, especially when the antagonist is a Pakistani captain. S-21 is dispatched to the eastern coast to look for Pakistani presence in Indian waters in the wake of cessation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan. The orders are to report any infiltrators back to headquarters. The Indians do find the infiltrator but are disadvantaged after being hit by a mine. In the face of all odds, they still challenge the Pakistani intruder for a fight to the finish.
Rana Daggubati has given a restrained performance which befits his character. Kay Menon, an otherwise fine actor, surprisingly overacts. As Executive Officer Devraj, Atul Kulkarni is as always dependable. His character tries to bridge the chasm between the two clashing Indian Officers. You can’t help but wonder what made Tapsee Pannu accept the role of an East Pakistani refugee on the submarine. Not only is her character redundant in the story, she hardly has anything to do other than look wide-eyed all through the film. Most of the supporting cast do not look like seamen.
Thankfully, there are no songs, not even in an imagined sequence otherwise conveniently used. That would have taken away from the crisp narrative. However the film does falter in the special-effects department. We still need to invest more to achieve the breathtaking results that films in some parts of the world are able to achieve. Though I am no expert in naval warfare, the fact that S-21 avoided 6 torpedoes while being on the mark on the first try itself when it came to hitting the enemy a tad too convenient.
Despite some of the downsides, the film soars not the least due to having its heart in the right place. It sticks to the war-drama-thriller genre without diluting it by squeezing in a naach-ganasequence to placate the lowest common denominator. The film needs ovation for being the first underwater war film handled superbly by a first time director. He shows a maturity we seldom find even in experienced filmmakers. The film may lack the polish of a mega-budget flick, it still engages the viewer from the first scene to the last.
Rating : 3/5
Starring: Rana Daggubati, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Singh
Director: Sankalp Reddy