Likewise, everything that happened inside Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace, one of the sites of multiple attacks, where Major Unnikrishnan was leading the sweep, is the subject of Dev Patel starrer Hotel Mumbai (2018).
By 2022, it appears that the coordinated terrorist attacks of Mumbai on November 26, 2008 (26/11) have been covered in popular culture – feature films, series, documents, books – from all lenses and angles. Outside the terrorists’ but of course.
This film, Major, is a biographical film of a trainer-level commando of India’s elite National Security Guard (NSG), Major Sandeep Onikrishnan, for whom the film is named.
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Now, 26/11, through the perspective of an NSG alone, has already been painstakingly sequenced in the relatively lower-ranked presentation, the state of siege (Zee5).
Likewise, everything that happened inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, one of the multiple attack sites where Major Unnikrishnan was leading the sweep, is the subject of the entire Dev Patel starrer Hotel Mumbai (2018).
Is Major, significantly different from other movies/series about it? yes. Because it is primarily about a boy from Bangalore who grew up and would like to join/serve the forces. Which is seen in most societies as a noble thing to do – despite the personal sacrifices and potential risks involved. The major in this movie was also hit on both counts. He had a life before he lived it.
Much like Shershaah (2021), which should have been a theatrical version—the autobiography of Captain Vikram Batra, who was killed in the Kargil War—ends up as a pioneer in the humanization of 26/11, more so than most other works on the subject. Because, in the first place, it focuses on the front man. With a champ to follow Fred.
This may be of concern to the audience (like myself), since the film is originally in Telugu; Simultaneously in Hindi. Outside of Rajamouli’s blockbuster films, Pushpa of course, my idea of mainstream Telugu cinema comes mainly from its fantastic Hindi-language remakes, starring the likes of Salman Khan.
They take the heroism to such extremes that they end up wiping out the existence of all the other aspects of a healthier movie – keeping audiences looking for more subtlety instead. This is an ordinary movie. Inspired by real events. Certainly some hesitation is justified.
The early parts of a pic seem random at times; Including continuity errors, if you will. What ultimately matters is how you unite in the end. It’s really not a movie of the size and excellence of the inspiring masterpiece, Lakshya (2002), which was blessed, for example, with full access to the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
However, the exhilarating stunts, deadly combat sequences, and fireworks look as authentic as they are. Director Sashi Kiran Tikka knows a thing or two about masking and revealing surprises in an action-thriller.
There is a fairly full frontal approach to formula elements as well. Just a bunch of relatively improbable faces of an Indian movie, from a town separate from Bombay alone, lends all this a touch of a new love that’s hard to explain to me.
In the center of the screen is, of course, the main actor, as well as the screenwriter of the film, Adevi Sesh. I watched Major in the preview show, surrounded mostly by Telugu speaking audience, who were fully aware of Sesh’s stardom on screen, enjoying every moment of it. This collective, elevated genre in theater is unbeatable as an experience, at first.
What I had seen in Sesh as Major Unnikrishnan, though, was just a ‘discovery’ of sorts – very thorough with his physical training, and equally skilled in his acting skills, for gigantic theater, as it were.
Opposite him is young Saiee Manjrekar as a major love interest. Showing such flair for a rather complicated role, you realize how much damage it got to her in her debut in Dabanng 3.
Actors Prakash Raj, Revathi plays the major’s parents, in ways you can instantly relate to the warmth of middle-class parents who care about their young children. Sobhita Dhulipala shines equally in a relatively fleeting part of a guest stuck inside the Taj Mahal.
Here’s why the role was called above: Sesh from Hyderabad; Manjrekar, from Mumbai. Raj belongs to Bengaluru. Rivathi is from Kochi, and she is best known for her Tamil films. Dhulipala originally hails from Visakhapatnam, but is a lot from Mumbaikar.
Their film is in Telugu and Hindi. This is not some invasion from the south. It’s just Indian cinema, pure and simple! The event to which they are responding creatively – while taking place in Bombay – was largely a national (if not global) tragedy.
A group of brainwashed men, sent across the border by the deep state, corrupts India’s financial capital. The wrong move or the only possible trap, as it were, is to indulge in demonic bloodshed on the screen as a result. This movie does none of that.
Recreate 26/11 with enough creative liberties to remain believable. It moves you with a good amount of empathy and patriotism. Sure, we’ve seen, read, heard enough about 11/26. This is only a powerful addition to the list. Glad I caught it, sure.