The Attacks of 26/11 is an Exploitative Docudrama
Indian filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma (Satya, Company) continues his recent cold streak with The Attacks of 26/11, an exploitative docudrama that mercilessly begs viewers to wallow in an exhausting, stilted re-enactment of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Varma begins his film with an intertitle begging for tolerance, stating that the film is not intended to criticize any one group. But the next screen of introductory text establishes the film's main concern: According to the filmmakers, the 2008 attacks were "far more shocking" than 9/11 because of the perpetrators' "sheer audacity." Varma then tries to prove that argument with several slow-mo-heavy scenes where scowling, sweaty Pakistani badmen mow down everyone, including "innocent children and women" and anyone who tries to get help. It's telling that whenever Rakesh Maria (Nana Patekar, star of the Varma-produced Ab Tak Chappan), joint commissioner of the Mumbai Police, infrequently provides narration to the film's events, he only make the terrorists sound more malicious. Attacks' drama is full of genuine anguish, but it's inexcusably gross to pretend this isn't a one-sided version. Varma shouldn't have bothered with the pretense of reportage, as he does later in the film when he juxtaposes a scene where a captured terrorist (Sanjeev Jaiswal) explains why he did what he did with one where Maria pulls a sub-Scared Straight routine, yelling at Jaiswal's killer that he gives Muslims a bad name--all while shoving his face into a pile of corpses and yelling, "Smell!" Attacks doesn't establish the severity of a real-life tragedy, it only crassly devalues the loss of human life.
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