Hyderabad: The year was 1971. The Indo-Pakistan war was at its peak when Pakistan deployed its deadly attack submarine, the PNS Ghazi, towards India. However, the Navy base in Vizag was ready to ward off attacks and eventually, after a series of events, PNS Ghazi sank, mysteriously.
The sinking remains a controversial topic in the annals of the war. And to relive those days, Sankalp Reddy, a 30-year-old from Hyderabad, has come up with a script that will bring the submarine back to life in the first submarine warfare movie in India 18th Day.
It started a year ago when Sankalp, an assistant director in Tollywood, visited Vizag. It was by chance that he happened to visit the Naval base and the submarines instantly captured his attention.
“I had researched about a few submarines, but the PNS Ghazi story intrigued me the most. There are two different versions of how Ghazi sank. While the Indian version claims the submarine sank because of a series of successful efforts by the Indian Navy, the Pakistan version claims its top vessel sank following an internal explosion, killing all on board,” says Sankalp who studied at the CVR College of Engineering before doing his Masters in Fine Arts at Griffith Film School, Australia.
After a year of research he brought out the book, The Blue Fish. He says, “I always wanted to develop the script into a movie, but I wrote the book because I didn’t want to have copyright issues, now, the movie is partially based on the book.”
The film will chart the course of Arjun Rathore, executive officer of Indian submarine S21 and his team, for 18 days underwater. “We are going with the Indian version of the story, but I have also added some fiction to it,” explains Sankalp. Rajeev Khandelwal has been approached for the lead role. “We have spoken to both of them and both liked the script; we are yet to finalise one for the role, though both are such good actors that it would only add to our movie.”
Since majority of the movie is based inside the submarine, would the team be shooting mainly in Vizag? “For the shoot convenience and special effects we chose to build sets in Hyderabad, but the remaining 20 per cent, which is only computer graphics (CG) will be done in Vizag.”
And the graphics look promising as Rajeev Khandelwal says, “The VFX is impressive! The way it has been done is very neat and it doesn’t look like graphics at all.” Sankalp adds, “On our budget, we couldn’t shoot underwater scenes, so we had to add CG in our film.”