26/11 masterminds to play villains in Phantom.
Phantom is Sajid Nadiadwala’s upcoming action thriller which revolves around global terrorism. The film is an adaptation of S. Hussain Zaidi’s recent novel (with Gabriel Khan), Mumbai Avengers. The film has been shot in Lebanon, Syria, the UK, Canada and India. Indian locations include Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab’s Malerkotla. The espionage drama featuring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif wrapped up in Mumbai, last September.
Phantom involves pivotal characters that have been named after David Headley and Sajid Mir and two others modelled on Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The film is based on the series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks in Mumbai which took place on November 26, 2008 ,which continued for the next four days and was led by Ten members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Ajmal Kasab one of the 10 terrorists captured alive was hanged on November 21, 2012. But many of the masterminds got away. Headley, the Pakistani-American LeT terrorist, is currently serving a 35-year-sentence but Sajid Mir, who allegedly was Headley’s handler, has vanished. According to intelligence provided by the Mossad, he is holed up in Muridke near Lahore.
The mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, is also supposed to be living in a safe house near Lahore. In Hussain’s novel, five years after the attacks, a retired army officer spearheads a covert mission with a team of daredevil agents to seek out and kill these terror masterminds, one by one, making sure that the assassinations look like natural deaths. The best-selling author has collaborated on the screenplay and the terror suspects have found their way into the fictional plot. These include David Headley and Sajid Mir.
A spokesperson confirms the news and says,“Yes, there are characters named after both these men. He is one of the four main villains in the film, but his name has been changed to Sabauddin Umvi. One of the other bad guys is modelled after Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the banned Lashkar-eTaiba which carried out the audacious attacks. However, to ensure that the content doesn’t get too explosive and there are no diplomatic issues with Pakistan, the makers have prudently decided to change his name to Harif Saeed. But viewers will be left in little doubt about who these two characters are inspired by.“