Akshaye Khanna’s OTT debut by director Ken Ghosh has merit but doesn’t connect at a deeper level
Terror attack on Akshardham Temple. Happened in 2002. This is the primary reason why you fail to connect with the subject in State of Siege: Temple Attack. The film has its fine moments here and there. You will enjoy it well majorly if you are thoroughly absorbed in the horror that puts the characters in. The terrorists moving in slowly in the temple premises shooting people as they witness them, the people trying to safeguard themselves and their loved ones, the police and NSG commandos doing their bit of the duty- all serves for thrilling drama, but only if you empathise truly- and the nature of the narrative doesn’t allow you to.
Watch the trailer here:
The film is based on the famously infamous Akshardham Temple (here: Krishna Dham Temple) terror attack of Gandhinagar, 2002.
Written by William Borthwick and Simon Fantauzzo with dialogues by Farhan Salaruddin, the story is fairly good in terms of its elements of a siege film. There are personal stories giving the narrative a push and emotional motive. There are also characters that speak for themselves. And there is no impetus only on the protagonist. The point at which the story begins is interesting, but loosens in its appeal shortly.
The writers haven’t been able to keep the palpable tension intact, that inherently comes from the situations of intense suspense or thrill. Even though there is an attack in front of you where there are victims to save, you don’t feel the rush or pain or horror that the characters are going through, or what the real people must have felt. This is where the film falters to big extent, because for one, the subject is too old to feel strongly about and hence it feels that it’s just another Indo-Pak or POK or Jehadi notion film. (Having said that, the makers might have felt the need to remind the audience of the atrocities of terrorists). Secondly, although the dates have been accurate, saying Krishna Dham and not Akshardham takes the charm off. Also, the high octane punch of such a film is not felt.
Good thing- there are many characters and the film doesn’t revolve only around Akshaye Khanna. You get a perspective and depth in the narrative. Bad thing- the portrayal of NSG commandos or the terrorists is stereotypical so much so that you put these people in any other film of the genre and all those different films will start to look the same. By the end of the film, you just switch it off without the desired impact created in your minds. The preaching that comes at the very end also adds to the woes.
Akshaye Khanna suits the role right from the first scene. We’ve seen his brilliant side in Border and LOC Kargil. Here also he slips into the role of a commando effortlessly, looking the part. He has a personality that goes well in sync with the character. For the acting part, he doesn’t go wrong.
Gautam Rode falls a little short in personality but delivers well as far as dialogues are concerned. Vivek Dahiya has been given fine scenes to shine and he doesn’t disappoint.
Pravin Dabas is also okay, not great. Similarly Abhimanyu Singh (also the creator of the film) is just fine and nothing to recall of his performance. Likewise, Manjari Fadnis keeps coming in a few scenes for some time and she is okay.
Akshay Oberoi appears in a sequence in the beginning and although he is a fine actor, he doesn’t get scope here to perform much. Clearly underutilised.
Sound by Anilkumar Konakandla is good in parts and majorly the film gets engaging because of sharp sound design. Background score must also be commended. It definitely could be better. But it’s not bad.
Cinematography by Tejal Pramod Shetye is decent. Not too great. Not too bad. It lies at a balance. You enjoy the visually appeal. And that’s about it. The black uniforms of the commandos add to the royal feel. Production design by Gauri Tiwari and Prasun Basu looks bland at a couple of places but overall it works fine.
Editing by Mukesh Thakur isn’t something that plays a major role here. But it’s not badly done. There is one shot that stands out when Khanna’s character shoots a bullet board and another bullet board is inserted of a totally different scenario.
It’s a reasonably okay film. Falls back due to many factors playing simultaneously. A decent time pass affair. That’s that.