State of Siege - Temple Attack Movie Review: After Zee5 backed the series on 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, they have now trained their eyes on another such attack that shook the whole nation. Only this time it is a movie, and the incident is the the 2002 Akshardham temple attack saw terrorists barge into this famous temple in Gujarat and kill about 30 people before they were brought down by the NSG commandoes. State of Siege: Temple Attack, directed by Ken Ghosh is a fictionalised retelling of this chapter, with Akshaye Khanna playing the lead. Akshaye Khanna Receives Praises from Lt. Col Sundeep Sen.
Khanna plays Major Hanut Singh, who is given the charge to lead the unit of commandoes when four terrorists barge into the temple. Joining him are Gautam Rode's Major Samar and Vivek Dahiya's Captain Rohit Bagga. Parvin Dabas plays their commanding officer and Samir Soni plays the CM. Manjiri Fadnavis plays the mother of a girl who is trapped in the temple premises when the attack happens, that claims the life of her husband.
Watch the Trailer:
Now if you expect Ken Ghosh has done a meticulous recreation of what happened on the fateful day of September 24, 2002, you would be wrong there. State of Siege: Temple Attack has fictionalised the events for dramatic events so much that it is barely recognisable from what really happened there. For one, the temple is named here as Krishnadham. Instead of two terrorists that carried out the real-life act of terrorism, here we have four. Because two machine-gun-wielding terrorists, who massacred 30 people, didn't seem a threat enough for Bollywood.
Of course, if you expect State of Siege: Temple Attack to undertake the floundering investigation by the Gujarat police as to who were behind the attacks, you are dead wrong there (In 2014, Supreme Court had acquitted all persons accused of masterminding the attack, calling out the police for its negligent investigation). The movie is merely an opportunity to cash in on the prevalent nationalist fervour in its preening of being an ode to our fallen heroes.
But even if that's the intention, is State of Siege: Temple Attack an good ode at that? Nope. The film is one tedious exercise filled with tired cliches and tropes. Like, we have a hero with a rebellious streak and a guilt-ridden past that haunts him from time to time. We have a second hero whose wife is about to deliver a baby at the hospital and that therefore puts him in mortal peril, of course. We have a token white girl among the victims to offer a Western perspective (it's always white, never a African-American. If there is one, there is a white to balance it out,). So that the makers aren't accused of religious pandering, there is also a token 'nice' Muslim, who, of course, preaches to the terrorists about what Islam means, before he is bumped off. OTT Releases Of The Week: Jimmy Shergill’s Collar Bomb on Disney+ Hotstar, Akshaye Khanna’s State of Siege Temple Attack on ZEE5 and More.
The problem with the use of such tropes is that it takes a tense factor out of the narrative, crucial for a film that tackles a real-life hostage crisis. See how the 2019 film Hotel Mumbai handled a similar narrative. While that film also feels like an attempt to manipulate our pain, it at least treats characters in a more fleshed out manner.
Here, the terrorists are cardboard varieties of the worst kind, while the victims are used only to amplify their bloodlust and never treated as characters whose demises we should care about. Well, the movie's empathy for the victims can be understood by a scene that comes before the opening titles, where a voiceover says that merely months after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom happened, the state is seeing peace. No sirs, we had never seen peace. The scars are still there. In the end, this is a movie that neither does justice to the fallen nor the heroes who saved the day by turning their character to nothing more than chess-pieces.
And in the midst of all, there is a detached Akshaye Khanna simply goes through the motions as its lead, making us yearn for the time when he used to even make silly films like Race and Humraaz felt so bearable. The rest of the cast is just there, including popular TV stars Gautam Rode and Vivek Dahiya.
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State of Siege: Temple Attack is simply another flawed clone of Uri: The Surgical Strike, that lacks neither the technical finesse of its predecessor nor the passionate fervour that made it a darling for the audience it is targeted towards. The movie is streaming on Zee5.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 09, 2021 08:01 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).