09 Jul 2021: 'State of Siege: Temple Attack' thrills but dramatics kill vibe
Only if creator Abhimanyu Singh and director Ken Ghosh had better clarity on whether to base State of Siege: Temple Attack on the actual Akshardham temple terror attack of 2002, we would have gotten a better film. The makers take inspiration from the tragic incident, but add a different political angle, raise the number of terrorists/casualties, infuse loads of dramatic moments. Here's our review.
Exposition: Fantastic opening montage, flip-flap of reality later affects cinematic experience
The one-hour and 50-minute ZEE5 thriller opens with NSG Major Hanut Singh (Akshaye Khanna) leading a rescue mission in Jammu and Kashmir. Without needing to tell much, the scene holds your attention, and there's a thrill till the last moment. If this sequence was simply used as a backstory for Singh's trauma and not linked to the terror attacks, it would've been nearly perfect.
Performance: Khanna makes full use of whatever material he's given
The terrorists want the release of one of their own in return for releasing the hostages. How Singh tackles this situation is the rest of the story. While Khanna is the only character (apart from Gautam Rode's Major Samar) to have enough flesh, there isn't a whole lot for him to do. We wish he'd have chosen a better project for his OTT debut.
Plot: Here terrorists become double than the actual incident
Moving on from the introduction, nine months later, we see a Krishna Dham Temple in Gujarat getting attacked by four terrorists. As if going by the reality where two terrorists had killed over 30 people in an attack that lasted over twelve hours was not filmy enough, here the terrorists have been doubled. Cliche shots of priests, kids, families entering the temple are shown.
Issue: Manipulating details of the attack feels insensitive to real tragedy
The problem isn't the distorted facts (like changing the then Gujarat Chief Minister or motive behind the attack). The issue arises from the conflicting goal of creators. Right from the map of Krishna Dham to the date and timing of the attack, the similarity with Akshardham is deliberately shown. But then, the severity of the attacks is notched up and silly theatrics are included.
Verdict: Too many cringe-worthy moments takes away shine, gets 2.5/5
Mridul Das as one of the terrorists Farooq gets a (small) chance to shine and acts upon it. Vivek Dahiya as Captain Rohit Bagga and Sameer Soni as CM Manish Choksi do the needful. Absolutely cringey scene of a Muslim sweeper delivering lecture on "they (Hindus) aren't infidels, just different from us (Muslims)," takes the cherry for being the most theatrical moment. Verdict: 2.5/5.
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