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State Of Siege – Temple Attack Review: Akshaye Khanna’s Formidable Footprint On Digital Cinema

Celebrated actor Akshaye Khanna makes his digital debut with his forthcoming movie State of Siege: Temple Attack, which streams on ZEE5. Earlier work State Of Siege 26/11 is based on the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that had shaken the global community.

It showcases the lesser-known facts and untold stories about the strength and valour of the NSG commandos who saved the city when it was under siege during the horrific terror attacks.

In the movie, Akshaye will be seen essaying the role of NSG commander Hanut Singh. Directed by Ken Ghosh, it seems to be based on the 2002 terrorist attack that took place in Akshardham Mandir in Gujarat.

During the attack, Over 30 people lost their lives and 80 were injured in this gruesome incident. The National Security Guard came to the destination and took charge of the situation. They killed the terrorists and got the situation under control.

Sharin a few words on the film, Ken says: “State of Siege: Temple Attack is not just a film, it is a tribute to the NSG commandos of India who are always ready to risk their lives to protect us.

As a son of a naval officer, I have grown up in awe of our armed forces. In State of Siege: Temple Attack, we have tried our best to give a fitting tribute to our heroes and I cannot wait for the release of the film on ZEE5.”

Like the 26/11 series, this film too brings back some unpleasant and unnerving memories. At many points, it completely grabs the viewer by the throat. Sequences where the group of terrorists mercilessly kill devotees in a temple stir emotions of anguish and anger.

At the same time though, I do not think State Of Siege demonises one religious faith against the other or is ‘encouraging communal war’. It merely showcases one group of people against another as a knee-jerk reaction to another massacre that occurred. If anything, it teaches us that hatred and division only cause more chaos in the world.

In setting the backdrop and intensity level, Ken as a director succeeds. The subtle technicalities – i.e. camerawork, action scenes and cutting-edge editing help to maintain a visceral feel. At many times, it feels as though the viewer is also a hostage and the NSG commandos are saviours. We literally breathe a sigh of relief as soon as they enter the scene.

The greatest challenge for Ken, I feel, is encompassing so many characters and emotions for an (almost) two-hour film. Through the series format, it allows a director to gradually build up the characters and settings.

We see Hanut Singh battling his inner demons, but somehow, we do not get to fully empathise or grasp how he overcomes them. With the mission of saving hostages at hand, very few of the characters – barring Gautam Rode’s role – get to explore their emotions, separate to warfare.

Also in such survivor films, the hostages make some bad decisions which make us roll our eyes in frustration and irritation. Of course, in any such intense situation, emotions would get the better of us. But to what extent were these foolish decisions made in real life is something which only one can question.

Having said that, Akshaye does a tremendous job with this role being his first step into the digital arena. We’ve often seen him play an army officer before in movies like Border and LOC Kargil. However, here, there is a vulnerability in his voice yet formidability to his approach. There is a more human feel to the role.

Overall, State Of Siege: Temple Attack is a hard-hitting watch. Revolving around an incident that shook India, it surely touches some old wounds.  However, the technical aspects, action sequences and a great endeavour by Akshaye Khanna, keeps us engaged throughout.

Furthermore, it must be added that movies that showcase the power of any Army – regardless of which country – is not a commemoration of violence or killings. On the contrary, it is an insight into how physical conflict never ends in peace but leads to bloodshed and anguish. Hopefully, important life lessons are learnt going forward.

⭐⭐⭐.5 (3.5/5 stars)

State Of Siege: Temple Attack is streaming now on ZEE5. 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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