State of Siege: 26/11: Web Series Review
Director: Matthew Leutwyler, Prashant Singh.
Genre: Action, Thriller.
Release Date: 20 March 2020.
“ZEE5’s latest offering, State of Siege: 26/11, is a retelling of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks from the perspective of NSG commandos. Worth your while? Find out in this review.”
State of Siege: 26/11, based on Sandeep Unnithan’s book, Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11, is a retelling of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks from the perspective of the NSG commandos, giving an account of the operation that helped tackle the terrorist threat.
State of Siege: 26/11 is a reminder of those three dreadful days where we watched in horror as a group of terrorists launched attacks across several prominent locations in Mumbai. Over the span of eight meaty episodes, the show gives a harrowing account of these attacks, and the role played by the police and the NSG over the course of three days.
The show takes time to build up the situation. It might remind you of films and documentaries made on 26/11, but stands out with its narration that presents the perspective of the NSG – chalking out the various hurdles faced by them causing a delay in response, and how despite several challenges, they managed to succeed in the operation and neutralize the threat.
The series touches upon a lot of issues – lax security at landmark locations, negligence towards intelligence reports, the role of media and the thin line between careless and responsible reporting, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of proper communication channels, and complex protocols. Small, meticulous details make the series into something more than a standard retelling of a terrorist attack. The show asks important questions as to whether have we filled the gaps and if we are prepared to tackle with such situations more tactfully.
It also presents long-standing problems of inadequate funds for training and faulty weapons in the hands of police and armed forces. Furthermore, an entire episode is dedicated to showing how young minds like Kasab are manipulated into walking down a twisted path in the name of religion.
Arjan Bajwa presents a striking persona as the leader of the NSG commandos. He is a domineering figure on the screen, but never goes over-the-top in his performance, maintaining a firm hold over his character. Arjun Bijlani is impressive and convincing in his portrayal as Mani, a brave and selfless solder in the NSG. Mukul Dev performs his role as terrorist ringleader well.
The show stands out in its making. With its gripping narrative and clear vision in direction, the show stands at par with other similar action and thriller shows on the web, especially when it comes to combat sequences. The lead actors are not always in the spotlight, and the screenplay follows the events as they happened, sticking to facts, and taking only minor creative liberties. The cinematography, too, deserves a mention as the sequences have been shot only using natural light, without any artificial add-on effects.
Directed by American filmmaker Matthew Leutwyler, the show takes an authentic and unflinching look into the event, without over dramatizing the terrorist attacks, and engaging in excessive, more-than-required displays of violence, or turning soldiers into larger-than-life characters. The show is authentic and does not turn into a piece that exists to evoke chest-thumping displays of jingoism. The hostage situation and operation at Chabad House is explored at length, giving insight into an often-overlooked location that, too, suffered tremendous loss.
While State of Siege: 26/11 presents the attacks from the perspective of the NSG, giving an account of the challenges faced by them, it does not dig deeper into these hurdles and issues, and merely addresses the facts of the situation.
The media angle is disorganized in the beginning, and required some time to take proper form. Efforts are made to introduce family members and personal lives of lead characters, but they don’t really add much value to the narrative and instead, slow down the pace.
No Mumbaikar will ever forget the events of 26/11. The show aims to present it from the perspective of the NSG, but they don’t really take an active position until the last three episodes. Furthermore, several discussed issues are now public knowledge already, and the series becomes more informative than revelatory.
A realistic, well-crafted and nerve-wracking look into the 26/11 attacks from a different perspective. Worth a watch.
To maintain realism, the show’s team secured permission to shoot at a secluded defense base, and in the actual IL-76 aircraft, the same model which brought the NSG commanders to Mumbai during the 26/11 attacks.
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