The tone is set right at the beginning of State of Siege: Temple Attack with a well crafted action sequence as a prologue. Even as the two Akshays, Akshaye Khanna and Akshay Oberoi, take on the terrorists somewhere in Kashmir, there is a happy-sad situation that ensues. Happy, because a high profile hostage is rescued from the Punjabi speaking Pakistani terrorists. Sad, because a key NSG officer is lost in the process as he meets with a brutal death.
With this quintessential trope of ‘an officer with a past’ established, Akshaye Khanna wakes up in the midst of yet another nightmare, only to realize that over the years he has dwindling mojo. In comes his superior Parvin Dabas who summons him back in action to provide security cover to a high profile minister [Sameer Soni]. He is joined by old friend and colleague [Gautam Rode] and a rookie [Vivek Dahiya, continuing from the first installment of the franchise, State of Siege: 26/11, albeit as a different character].
Of course, as a viewer you know that something far more sinister is round the corner as the made-for-OTT film on ZEE5 is about a hostage situation during a temple attack, and not about safeguarding a politician in a seminar. However, it turns out to be a long drawn process from action to shift from the 5 star hotel set up to the temple as the close to half an hour is spent with the four terrorists instead, who are guided by their chief [Abhimanyu Singh] from Pakistan.
This is the time in the film where you miss Akshaye Khanna the most as the narrative shifts towards the four terrorists, their journey to the temple [in Gujarat], the way they create mayhem there by firing bullets, and then taking kids, youngsters and adults as hostages. In the process, close to a dozen other characters are introduced as well [a ‘mitahiwaala’, his son who also steps in a tourist guide, a young tourist, her ‘firangi’ friend, a married couple with a daughter and the parents, a security woman, an office boy, a priest and a lot more.
As a result one wonders if State of Siege: Temple Attack would have been more suitable to be in a web series format. Even if this was a mini-series of six episodes lasting 30 minutes each, a three hour narrative would have justified so many characters, and in the process also allowed Akshaye Khanna to have added meat in the characterization. In this case, since the Ken Ghosh directed film has a running time of less than two hours, somehow the characters who get the best screen time are the four terrorists with their long drawn scenes narrating what’s unfolding in the temple.
No wonder, whenever there is an action sequence in the film, you get a high. Be it the prologue scene or the one where NSG commandos led by Akshaye Khanna enter the temple for the first time, or later when Gautam Rode arrives with the team, or finally when Akshaye Khanna leads the action all over again, you like the way scenes unfold. The mood is set up well too and you stay connected with the tense drama that follows.
Akshaye Khanna is expectedly good in his scenes but I would have liked to see a couple of solid scenes where he could truly show what he is really capable of. The actors playing the four terrorists are uniformly good as well, while Gautam Rode and Vikas Dahiya fit in the part. Parvin Dabas and Sameer Soni are fine in their small parts, and so is Manjari Fadnis who is in a special appearance as the woman whose family is held hostage. Akshay Oberoi is charming in his cameo.
Last shot of State of Siege: Temple Attack promises a sequel in the offering. I just hope that given the kind of subject matter that one can expect for the next escapade, I get to see a full-fledged web series from the franchise.