Sankalp Reddy’s Ghazi (2017) Movie Review
Starcast: Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon, Rahul Singh, Late Om Puri, Bharat Reddy, Satyadev and Ravi Varma
Costumes by Ashwanth Byri
Music Composed by K
Edited by G Sreekar Prasad
Cinematography by Madhie
Directed by Sankalp Reddy
Censor Certificate: U Runtime: 124 Minutes
Think of every major movie where the action centered on a submarine: now add every cliché and a dash of fake patriotism – boredom and ‘Ghazi’ is your dish.
Ghazi mainly based on two characters representing two different ideologies. Perhaps we could label them as The Maverick Warrior (Kay Kay Menon) and the Passive Aggressive Lieutenant (Rana Daggubati). In the midst of a Muktijuddho situation, the S-21 Karanj (In reality, it was actually operating in hostile Arabian Sea territory) was sent for an “Operation Sea Sight”, where they accidently come across I-30 PNS Ghazi diverting Indian Navy by blasting Merchant Ship. That’s when S-21 receives an EAM, to be ‘On Hold’ and the tension rises between the Captain & Lt. Commander over following orders. After that we get some strong dialogues-bazi, some typical back and forth mutiny on the bounty type of stuff, and then the final standoff between the two submarines.
In GPSK the makers tried to emphasize on the dream of a 5 year old boy, whereas the truth was something contrary. Next came Om Namo Venkatesaya saying that it’s a fiction based on facts even those facts seemed to be fabricated. Now comes Ghazi, trying to portray the known history which is quite articulated in detail and not centuries ago. Lagaan started fictionalizing history for popular effect in today’s era of film making, but if you carefully observe none of the characters in Lagaan promise to be from History known or unknown and are completely fictionalized even the English characters too. Whereas the premise of the story “Ghazi” in itself is an historical fact. You can never expect people to just believe whatever you say, saying that we have just fictionalized the history. This is not some daily events of our neighbors or story of some random people you come across café’s those events can be fictionalized and you can use the tag based on real events with much better effect. But a war film, that too very historical victory for Indian Navy, cannot be said in Lagaan fashion. Right from the word go, with loads of Hollywood influences director Sankalp imbibes the Lagaan style voice-over, introducing situations and ending it as few “Forgotten Heroes”. I liked to say one thing here, History is not a part of fiction it can be interpreted in several ways, but it cannot be fabricated just for the matter of creating box office returns.
On the other hand, patriotism angle in Indian Film industry has become a fabrication for actors to explore the box office sentiment. Mostly many of the films have been thankfully rejected by audience looking at their fabricated unhealthy sentiments. There are very rare attempts like Dangal, which seemed very genuine and worthy. Even though Ghazi looks like an honest attempt it does feel in its writing tries too hard to induce heart and soul of a patriotic movie in a war based film. That should have been automatic dicto with the theme. The film looks like a forced patriotic story because of the writing, mainly in the starting 30 minutes of the movie. Setting up the tone for a war movie was even better in a movie like Run Silent, Run Deep (1958). The director of the movie Robert Wise, even though was not an evolved story teller (at that time!) was able to manage with limited practical effects making the audience remember a character inside the submarine within the first hour. While the director Sankalp took loads of influences from Crimson Tide (Conflict between two officials in a sub), K -19 Widowmaker (Few Under water shots), U – 571 (Introduction and claustrophobic sequences) and The Hunt for Red October (For aggressive opposition and few characterizations), he failed to carry the essence of introducing characters and the situation’s in an effective manner. Today there is no war for a genx audience to connect directly to the war situation. We need to set up, explore and explain properly with due course of events without any fabrications. The war period time specified in the film was not that easy as they made it appear in the film. Just when you walk into a submarine museum the stories of those war front vehicles immerse you into a deep emotion and make you wonder, how those guys could fight with limited technology and more manual strength. They had very brave hearts and were quick thinkers on their feet unlike today’s generation to depend mostly on the technology for every small croon in our daily life.
In any writing lesson the first thing you hear is ‘Introduce a character build on it’ and bring it to the complete circle by the end. It could learn, evolve or even stay uneven throughout the film. Here the writer Gunnam Gangaraju, Nirajan Reddy with Sankalp introduce different characters and tries to start the story narration in different point of views, but the beauty doesn’t transcend on screen like how they imagined in their first drafts. They have introduced a Bangla Refugee, a first time Naval soldier at war front and Kay Kay Menon. Rana Daggubati appears to be the second fiddle, who takes the center stage like Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide, after some unfortunate events. The dis-connectivity with the film arises with the story not fixing to a point of view or exploring the point of view that it fixed upon after certain events in the film. Basically it neither helps you in understanding claustrophobic nature of the submarine or it never lets you completely go under the skin of the characters. For example, Taapse Pannu was introduced as a Bangla Refuge who gets rescued by Indian Navy after escaping a near death attack by Ghazi. The entire character looks like director wanted to give raising testosterone level some relief. Instead she appears to be unnecessary addition. Even though girl seems to be forced induction rather than providing any character to the proceedings. When you are just going for the patriotic angle in a story, it is also important that you understand the physical mental trauma a war leave you with. So a golden chance of exploring a true character was missed by the unit. When you take the character of young soldier, he could have easily been the audience eyes exploring the third person’s point of view within the battle ground. Even Kay Kay Menon’s character could have provided the much needed emotional punch to the proceedings provided he had a strong back story rather than a ‘Main Hoon Naa’ hang over. When you have already fabricated and fictionalized history what is the need in trying to tell the story in ‘as it happened manner’.
Both Kay Kay Menon and Rana Daggubati provide the decent counter balance to one another Kay Kay Menon, who excels at playing men of authority, gives a strong performance. And Rana Dagubbati portrays men of great conviction and faith, is more than up to the challenge of playing against the veteran. The rest of cast are okay in very limited characterizations, with special mention to Atul Kulkarni and Satyadev.
Coming to other Technicalities, Costumes by Ashwanth Byri gives good insight to 1970’s wartime naval fashion. Cinematography by Madhie has been under challenging task considering he had to capture the undersea environment in a very closed surroundings with blue and green mats. Editing by G Sreekar Prasad rhythms with a healthy sparkling of other submarine film references. The pastiche BGM by K refuses to remain in the background and constantly reminds of Hollywood’s popular scores. VFX works in the film are alright. Production values of the film are guileful despite being made in a mid budget.
All in All, Technical Brilliance doesn’t guarantee for an engaging film. An engaging script with fun and tension interlaced at every nook and corner with clever writing would have helped the movie to become a thriller that it was trying to be. Rather its up being an attempt that leaves you with decent visual courtesy Madhie and with good background score thanks to Hans Zimmer whom K followed religiously. All in All, Sankalp tries to bring in some sensibilities into Telugu cinema that were quite absent but lack of maturity and being too young didn’t help him overcome his flaws, eventhough he had the elderly shoulder of Gunnam Gangaraju. I would recommend you to watch it only if you haven’t seen the above referenced films. Watch them and you have seen Ghazi.
PS: Few coming out of the theatre said its an good experience and new experience but then they also said they were bored by the movie. This leaves me with confusion in assessing box office result of any film. People are too crazy you know.
Survi Review: 2/5