MUMBAI: After “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” being appreciated for cementing India-Pakistan ties, its director Kabir Khan’s upcoming film “Phantom” will speak of terrorists’ from Pakistan attacking Mumbai on 26/11.
Producer Sajid Nadiadwala, Khan and lead actors Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif were present July 25 at Mumbai’s PVR Juhu cinema for the launch. Ali Khan plays Daniyal, who promises to enter the home of one of the 26/11 masterminds, Hariz Saeed, and kill him just as the U.S. did with Osama bin Laden.
Saeed looks uncannily like Jama’at-ud-Da’wah chief Hafiz Saeed, the primary accused in the 26/11 Mumbai blasts. “Phantom” is about a young agent who goes to prison undercover, gathering all kinds of information to prepare him for his attack against those responsible for the horror of 26/11.
Based on S. Hussain Zaidi’s recent novel, “Mumbai Avengers,” “Phantom” was shot in Lebanon, Syria, U.K., Canada and India. In the novel, five years after the attacks, a retired army officer spearheads a covert mission with a team of agents to seek out and kill the masterminds, one by one, making sure that the assassinations look like natural deaths. Zaidi also collaborated on the screenplay.
Characters were named after the real-life terrorists David Headley, Sajid Mir and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Headley, the Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, is currently serving a 35-year sentence, but Sajid Mir (named Sajid Meed here) who allegedly was Headley’s handler, has vanished and is said to be in Lahore. The other mastermind, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, is also supposed to be living around there and is named Subauddin Umvi in the film.
The trailer launch was made rather colorful, even if unpleasant, because director Khan was inveigled into a heated argument with a journalist who did not like certain remarks by him.
The director had expressed unhappiness with the mindset that terrorists are directly coming from Pakistan and had said it was not true.
“People-to-people friendship can’t happen as long as these extremist elements exist in either country. And these elements have to be eliminated for both the countries to get along peacefully,” he said.
A shouting match ensued and the director, who cooled down faster, asked the journalist to become more civil, saying, “Why are you screaming like that? Calm down, have some water.” The journalist repeatedly wanted “the terrorist elements in India” identified, but the director stressed that he had not used the word “terrorist,” but “extremist” for such elements.
The film, produced by Nadiadwala with UTV Motion Pictures and music by Pritam, is set to release Aug. 28.