Opening this week

Film review: Underwater thriller ‘The Ghazi Attack’ dives deep for patriotism

Passions are roused and the national anthem plays twice as an Indian Navy crew faces a Pakistani submarine in 1971.

The recent clarification by the Supreme Court that theatre audiences are not required to stand at attention when the national anthem is played as part of a film couldn’t have been more timely. The Ghazi Attack, an underwater chase thriller about Indian and Pakistani submarines in 1971, features two renditions of the anthem. As if that wasn’t enough to remind the cola-popcorn crowd of the sacrifices of the armed forces, it includes the strains of Saare Jahan Se Achcha, as well as shots of the fluttering tricolour.

Sankalp Reddy’s movie, which has simultaneously been made in Telugu, does not start out in shrillness. The briskly narrated, suspense-filled drama begins on the eve of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi is lurking in Indian waters in wait for the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Following a tip-off, the Indian Navy chief (Om Puri) asks a submarine crew to investigate, but takes the precaution of sending Arjun (Rana Daggubati) to keep an eye on the vessel’s hot-headed captain Rann Vijay (Kay Kay Menon). Rann Vijay is the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later kind, and when he senses that a Pakistani submarine is in the vicinity, his eyes acquire the gleam of a psychopath.

Yet, Rann Vijay is no uniformed nutcase – he is merely an intelligent patriot who prefers aggression to the niceties of standard operating procedure. Rann Vijay is also an ace strategist – his hero is American general George S Patton. The loyal second officer, Devaraj (Atul Kulkarni), becomes the mediator between Rann Vijay’s obduracy and Arjun’s bureaucracy. Devaraj often steps to calm tempers, especially when Rann Vijay insists on pursuing the source of an unmistakable sonar signal despite the potential damage this may cause his submarine.

Play
The Ghazi Attack.

Rann Vijay’s Pakistani counterpart (Rahul Singh) is equally obsessive (a job requirement, perhaps?). Razzak’s eyes bulge with delight as he contemplates the prospect of firing torpedoes into the belly of the Indian submarine. A chase ensues – a Fast and Furious at the bottom of the sea, if you will. The events might not pass muster with military historians, but they certainly meet the requirements of the average war drama. Reddy effectively recreates the closed interiors of a submarine on an Indian budget, ratchets up the tension, and handles potentially shrill material with admirable restraint.

By the time the war drums start pounding, Reddy’s work is done. An apt audio-visual metaphor for the current nationalistic fever that has infected Indian cinema is provided in the pre-climax sequences. But far more rousing than the play on patriotic sentiment is Reddy’s skillful direction. He handles his cast well and evenly distributes the honours across the prominent and lesser-known actors. Atul Kulkarni provides an effective foil to Kay Kay Menon’s borderline mania, while Rana Daggubati’s limited abilities are smartly channelled into a necessarily passive role.

But even Reddy cannot justify the presence of Taapsee Pannu in the cast. The survivor of a merchant ship that has been attacked by PNS Ghazi, Pannu’s character does nothing more than add a redundant female presence to the all-male ship. Fortunately, Reddy doesn’t ask her to break out into a song. For vocal relief, there is the national anthem – twice.

The Ghazi Attack is billed as the first Indian movie to be set on a submarine. It is also the first Indian movie to mine nationalism at the very depths of the ocean. Indian cinema’s quest for a flag-thumping moment will stop at nothing.

Kay Kay Menon in The Ghazi Attack.
Kay Kay Menon in The Ghazi Attack.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

How sustainable farming practices can secure India's food for the future

India is home to 15% of the world’s undernourished population.

Food security is a pressing problem in India and in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), it is estimated that over 190 million people go hungry every day in the country.

Evidence for India’s food challenge can be found in the fact that the yield per hectare of rice, one of India’s principal crops, is 2177 kgs per hectare, lagging behind countries such as China and Brazil that have yield rates of 4263 kgs/hectare and 3265 kgs/hectare respectively. The cereal yield per hectare in the country is also 2,981 kgs per hectare, lagging far behind countries such as China, Japan and the US.

The slow growth of agricultural production in India can be attributed to an inefficient rural transport system, lack of awareness about the treatment of crops, limited access to modern farming technology and the shrinking agricultural land due to urbanization. Add to that, an irregular monsoon and the fact that 63% of agricultural land is dependent on rainfall further increase the difficulties we face.

Despite these odds, there is huge potential for India to increase its agricultural productivity to meet the food requirements of its growing population.

The good news is that experience in India and other countries shows that the adoption of sustainable farming practices can increase both productivity and reduce ecological harm.

Sustainable agriculture techniques enable higher resource efficiency – they help produce greater agricultural output while using lesser land, water and energy, ensuring profitability for the farmer. These essentially include methods that, among other things, protect and enhance the crops and the soil, improve water absorption and use efficient seed treatments. While Indian farmers have traditionally followed these principles, new technology now makes them more effective.

For example, for soil enhancement, certified biodegradable mulch films are now available. A mulch film is a layer of protective material applied to soil to conserve moisture and fertility. Most mulch films used in agriculture today are made of polyethylene (PE), which has the unwanted overhead of disposal. It is a labour intensive and time-consuming process to remove the PE mulch film after usage. If not done, it affects soil quality and hence, crop yield. An independently certified biodegradable mulch film, on the other hand, is directly absorbed by the microorganisms in the soil. It conserves the soil properties, eliminates soil contamination, and saves the labor cost that comes with PE mulch films.

The other perpetual challenge for India’s farms is the availability of water. Many food crops like rice and sugarcane have a high-water requirement. In a country like India, where majority of the agricultural land is rain-fed, low rainfall years can wreak havoc for crops and cause a slew of other problems - a surge in crop prices and a reduction in access to essential food items. Again, Indian farmers have long experience in water conservation that can now be enhanced through technology.

Seeds can now be treated with enhancements that help them improve their root systems. This leads to more efficient water absorption.

In addition to soil and water management, the third big factor, better seed treatment, can also significantly improve crop health and boost productivity. These solutions include application of fungicides and insecticides that protect the seed from unwanted fungi and parasites that can damage crops or hinder growth, and increase productivity.

While sustainable agriculture through soil, water and seed management can increase crop yields, an efficient warehousing and distribution system is also necessary to ensure that the output reaches the consumers. According to a study by CIPHET, Indian government’s harvest-research body, up to 67 million tons of food get wasted every year — a quantity equivalent to that consumed by the entire state of Bihar in a year. Perishables, such as fruits and vegetables, end up rotting in store houses or during transportation due to pests, erratic weather and the lack of modern storage facilities. In fact, simply bringing down food wastage and increasing the efficiency in distribution alone can significantly help improve food security. Innovations such as special tarpaulins, that keep perishables cool during transit, and more efficient insulation solutions can reduce rotting and reduce energy usage in cold storage.

Thus, all three aspects — production, storage, and distribution — need to be optimized if India is to feed its ever-growing population.

One company working to drive increased sustainability down the entire agriculture value chain is BASF. For example, the company offers cutting edge seed treatments that protect crops from disease and provide plant health benefits such as enhanced vitality and better tolerance for stress and cold. In addition, BASF has developed a biodegradable mulch film from its ecovio® bioplastic that is certified compostable – meaning farmers can reap the benefits of better soil without risk of contamination or increased labor costs. These and more of the company’s innovations are helping farmers in India achieve higher and more sustainable yields.

Of course, products are only one part of the solution. The company also recognizes the importance of training farmers in sustainable farming practices and in the safe use of its products. To this end, BASF engaged in a widespread farmer outreach program called Samruddhi from 2007 to 2014. Their ‘Suraksha Hamesha’ (safety always) program reached over 23,000 farmers and 4,000 spray men across India in 2016 alone. In addition to training, the company also offers a ‘Sanrakshan® Kit’ to farmers that includes personal protection tools and equipment. All these efforts serve to spread awareness about the sustainable and responsible use of crop protection products – ensuring that farmers stay safe while producing good quality food.

Interested in learning more about BASF’s work in sustainable agriculture? See here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.