If you thought Bollywood has exhausted the theme of India-Pakistan wars, think again. The Ghazi Attack, starring Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu and Kay Kay Menon, is inspired by a classified mission conducted by the Indian Navy against their Pakistani counterpart in 1971. Directed by Sankalp Reddy and produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, the film is being touted as India’s first war-at-sea film.
Watch the trailer of The Ghazi Attack below:
But note the carelessly-glossed-over-word 'inspired'. You probably noticed it, but it sunk deep into your subconscious and lay forgotten, with the action, the slick production values, the submarines and Taapsee spouting Bengali looking kick-ass!
When it comes to stories 'inspired' by history, Bollywood enters dangerous territory by the very dint of the fact that cinema commands a much larger audience than literary retellings or textual history. And therein lies the great burden to deliver a story that sticks closest to the truth.
But Bollywood is notorious for its excruciating distortions of history (take a look at Mohenjo Daro, for example).
But to come back to The Ghazi Attack, despite the patriotism that is brimming from our hearts after watching the trailer, let's revisit the disputed versions of the story of the sinking of the Pakistani submarine.
Disputed Versions of How PNS Ghazi Sank
It is not quite clear how PNS Ghazi sank to begin with. Contrary to what the trailer depicts, the submarine sank under circumstances which aren't clear to this day. There's the Pakistani version according to which the submarine sank after the accidental detonation of its own mine that it lay to sink the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
Then there's the Indian version, which maintains that the Indian Navy lay a bait for PNS Ghazi and then destroyed it using depth charges fired by World War II destroyer INS Rajput.
However, contradictory statements from within the naval force maintain that the ageing Pakistani submarine sank under mysterious circumstances, claims that strip India of its laurels.
In an interview from 2011, former navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash had said:
There’s a certain fog of war around this incident because subsequent investigations by our own navy found out that there had been internal explosions inside the submarine. She was carrying mines, and submarines... also larger banks of batteries which exude hydrogen so explosion can take place. So there’s a certain amount of uncertainty whether she sank because of our naval action or whether of internal explosions.
As former Vice Admiral of the Indian Navy G M Hiranandani puts it in his book Transition to Triumph, the truth behind the sinking of PNS Ghazi is an "eternal parole".
Now the question remains: will The Ghazi Attack be able to stick to facts?