The State of Siege series on Zee5 is for those who will never get their fill of Islamist terrorists with kohl in their eyes and sadism in their hearts. We meet a particularly nasty bunch of these gents in the second chapter. While the web series State of Siege: 26/11 (2020) revisited the attacks on Mumbai in November 2008, the movie Temple Attack is a fictionalised version of the terrorist raid on the Akshardham complex in Gandhinagar in 2002.
Like in 26/11, the focus is on the highly trained National Security Guards. Commando Hanut Singh (Akshaye Khanna) leads a team to rescue a minister’s daughter somewhere in Kashmir. The operation doesn’t go as planned, leading to doubts about Hanut’s capabilities.
Hanut gets his shot at redemption when a group of men invades the Krishna Dham temple in Gujarat and holds its staffers and visitors hostage. Hanut, who happens to be in the city as part of the chief minister’s security detail, lands up at the temple and proceeds to fire away against orders.
Written by William Borthwick and Simon Fantauzzo and directed by Ken Ghosh, the 110-minute film aims for maximum nerve-shredding through tensely choreographed action sequences. Frequent inter-cutting reveals that the commandoes and their adversaries are equally matched and motivated. The urgent background score suggests that a bomb will go off any minute. The terrorists’ handler (Abhimanyu Singh) frequently barks orders over the cellphone. As the cat-and-mouse games escalate, the brutal terrorists kill at will and prepare for a grand finale to their dastardly plan.
The state’s chief minister (Samir Soni) largely stays out of the picture. The civilians who are used as hostages or cannon fodder are mostly forgettable too. Despite the presence of Gautam Rode, Vivek Dahiya and Parvin Dabas as various NSG personnell, the honours belong to Akshaye Khanna’s Hanut.
Both actor and character are admirably professional and restrained, suggesting that it’s all in a day’s work for the both of them. Temple Attack is Khanna’s first foray into the digital space. True to form, the maverick actor has chosen a launchpad in which he is one among many but still able to stand out because of sheer star power.