State of Siege: 26/11 has been a much awaited series since the time it was announced. Based on the book Black Tornado by acclaimed defence writer Sandeep Unnithan, many expected the show to show a true account of the events that happened on 26/11. The series delivers on those expectations and then some. The series sees Arjun Bijlani, Arjan Bajwa, and Vivek Dahiya playing the leading roles as NSG commandos. Mukul Dev, Sid Makkar, and Tara Alisha Berry all play vital roles in this series that is an in-depth and no-holds-barred look at the events that unfolded during the 2008 attacks.
Watch the trailer here.
The series wastes no time and gets right to the point. It begins with the terrorists making their way to Mumbai and the Mumbai police continuing to take warnings about terror attacks lightly. The stakes rise suddenly when the attack begins on the city and the tension refuse to ease until the NSG actually begin their operation. Even for those who remember the attacks very well, the series will bring a lot of new information to light. The series does highlight the bravery of the officers who laid down their lives to protect innocent civilians, but also asks the question: Could this sacrifice have been avoided if vigilance measures were taken beforehand?
The series asks some pertinent questions about the security of our city in 2008. The police were stretched for manpower and had seriously outdated equipment. The NSG were understaffed and faced a serious lack of funds. Arjun Bajwa, Vivek Dahiya, and Arjun Bijlani play the roles of the frustrated NSG Commandos who are waiting to get into the thick of the action and saves lives. Arjun Bijlani is particularly inspirational as Major Manikrishnan, whose character is based on 26/11 martyr Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan.
The first few episodes are nerve-wracking to watch. The makers haven’t added any additional spice for suspense but just structured the incidents as they happened. It’s almost frightening to see how the common people were almost made to fend for themselves against the terrorists. It’s saddening to watch policemen with only pistols and faulty bulletproof jackets going up against terrorists well-stocked with AK-47s and grenades. To see the NSG rationing bullets in training to save them for real battles comes as another shocker.
Where the series really goes beyond other retellings of 26/11 is in the bonus episode titled ‘Jihad – The Making Of A Terrorist‘. This episode takes them back to the planning of the attack, according to Kasab’s confession to the police. This choice pays off because the episode not only helps to understand the terrorists’ intentions but also how well-trained they were, and why the police and special marine commandos (MARCO) were unable to deal with the terrorists.
While every other retelling of the 26/11 thrives on demonising the terrorists, State Of Siege: 26/11 gives you an inside look at the mentality of the terrorists and the tragic situations that turned small-time criminals into terrorists. Mukul Dev, as the terrorist handler Lakhvi, deserves a special mention for his role. He is the sweet-talking devil who orchestrates the entire attack from one room and always remains in control even when all the terrorists are killed.
Another big plus for this show is that it refuses to focus only on the Taj attack and focuses on Trident, Chabad House, CST, and Cama Hospital as well. State Of Siege: 26/11 shows the escape of 6-year old Moshe from the terrorists at Chabad House, and the highlights the religious violence between the Muslim terrorists and their Jewish hostages, all of whom were resilient up to the moment of death.
The show pulls up the news channels for their role in helping the terrorists by showing the whole rescue operation live. Sid Makkar plays the role of a TRP-hungry host, who uses his naive junior Parvati (Tara Alisha Berry), to execute his irresponsible journalism. They can often seem like the real, hate-mongering and selfish villain on the show.
The show is directed by Matthew Leutwyler, an independent filmmaker from LA and the difference is evident. The series chooses to take an authentic look at the attack instead of turning it into a show of over-the-top jingoism that stories of this kind usually turn into. Big props to Contiloe productions for keeping the vision for this series true to the book.
While the show celebrates the job done by the security forces, it also asks important questions to the government and media about their inefficiency, which led to a very real loss of life. Watch this eye-opening series about the successes and failures of 26/11, only on on ZEE5.
Watch State of Siege: 26/11, only on ZEE5!
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