State Of Siege 26/11 (Zee5, 8 Episodes)
Starring Arjan Bajwa, Arjun Bijlani, Mukul Dev, Tara Alisha Berry
Directed by Matthew Leutwyler
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Films on global terror attacks walk that very slender line between exposition and exploitation. We never know how many films on 9/11,26/11, Nirbhaya, the Nazi holocaust or the Bhiwandi riots we are in for. And frankly, we don’t really hold our breath for these recreations of historic catastrophes.
I’ve seen three previous films on the 9/11/2008 terror attack on Mumbai.Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attacks Of 26/11 in 2013 was authentic but showed the director’s post-Urmila Matondkar obsession with his new muse Nana Patekar. Mumbai Hotel last year was a fine albeit fictional replay of the actual attack. But the sight of Dev Patel in a Sikh turban took the shine away from the film’s sincerity. And then there was a smaller international film called One Less God directed by Lliam Worthington which ended up showing the 26/11 siege’s end with a celebration of Holi on the streets of Mumbai.
Holi in November????
The new well-researched though a tad self-consciously designed web series on 26/11 for Zee5 keeps us watching through the episodes through a pacy and well-executed plot plan . The 8 episodes move at a brisk no-nonsense pace leaving us with a mildly compelling view of what felt like to be at one of the places attacked by intruders from across the border on that fateful night in November.
The research-based on Sandeep Unnithan’s book Black Tornado The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11is impressively nervewracking in telling us just how ruthless the attackers were in their game-plan of bloodied mayhem. The counter-terrorism heroes are justifiably larger than life. The series shows Colonel Kunal Sahota (Arjan Bajwa) and Major Nikhil Manikrishnan (Arjun Bijlani) making split-second decisions unheedful of whether protocol is strictly being followed or not.
The vulnerability of the police force and the army fighting the sophisticated weapons of the terrorist with obsolete artillery is also brought out in the course of what turns out to be a gripping if somewhat conventional anti-terror thriller. The two leads, Bajwa and Bijlani strike suitably heroic postures. Mukul Dev with a beard as false as his accent has done much better in negative roles in the past.
The performances, especially of the actors playing terrorists, is suitably over-the-top.
To match the characters’ ambitions, I suppose.
Oh, and the media, represented by an Arnab Goswami caricature–styled rabble-rouser (played by Sid Makkar) is shown to be self-serving sensation-mongers giving out confidential information on television that aided the terror outfits in their mayhem plan.
Some would say making a series about a traumatic incident in history is also a fairly self-serving exercise.