Ram Gopal Varma is clearly being offensive this time by scraping out the scarred physical and emotional wounds of those victimized by the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. The 2008 attacks were perhaps the most conspicuous nightmare we Indians relate to witnessed and upfront Terrorism the most.
RGV had conceived this audacious idea of this film immediately after the 26/11 attacks. His intentions became transparent when he took a tour of the grazed down Taj and Trident Hotels in Mumbai where the attacks took place, with the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh and his son Riteish Deshmukh, the popular actor. This created a huge uproar from the media as well as Mumbai-kars which cost Vilasrao Deshmukh his job, as he resigned over this controversy which blew up beyond control. After all, it is hurtful to imagine that while people are mourning the death of their loved ones, a film maker is mentally putting together pieces of their trauma to carve out a commercial film. RGV had then assured that he did not intend to make a film out of the dramatic 26/11 plot and yet, he is back after 5 years with the film that will haunt you!
As a journalist and as a part of the Koimoi team we have always fostered the Freedom of Expression in a democracy. That is obviously one of the prime most policies we follow religiously. Yet, the depiction of such a traumatizing and tragic incident has to be done sensitively, without holding an aorta of value judgments.
The music of the film, The Attacks of 26/11 was recently launched at the marred Leopold Café which is one of the most vivacious faces of Mumbai and the first venue of the horrendous attacks. The song Maula Maula sung by Sukhwinder Singh will bring back to you the traumatic pictures of the attacks we have seen on television or in newspapers. The lyrics will shock you hard enough to go numb and disturb you almost to run chills down your spine.
The film is already slated to be one of the most controversial films of recent times and is slated to release on 1st March. Here, one in no way is trying to undermine the talent of RGV but simply point out how unnecessary it is to scoop out the recovering emotional wounds of those attacks. Terrorism is one of the most violent and grotesque terrain of prevailing extremist perspectives and to render to it any color is even worse. Eventually it indeed is impossible to encapsulate such a vast and multi-faceted incident without taking sides or adding value connotations to it. It will only go a step forward in violating and hurting the sentiments of people who have faced the trauma up close. The teasers and song simply tell the tale in a matter of fact, blunt and insensitive fashion, portraying hard hitting realities. It looks like an attempt at pulling out ghosts of the past from their dusty coffins. Ramu’s style of work has always remained very non glamorous and realistic, but the same realism converts into a bane when you are dealing with an issue as volatile and vulnerable as the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which killed over 200 people in two days.
To condemn his film would be politically and morally incorrect. To appreciate this film which is bound to bring alive the forgotten trauma, is painful. So let’s settle for something that comes almost naturally to me – If RGV is even half of the brilliant film maker we know him to be, it’s best to trust his instincts and have faith that he has balanced the pain and the reality of the incident in such a way that the film is an archive and a tribute, not a dreaded nightmare!