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Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

‘Terror in Mumbai’ difficult to watch

November 19, 2009

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As chilling as any horror movie, “Terror in Mumbai” (7 p.m., HBO) recalls a cold-blooded assault on India’s largest city that left 170 dead and more than 300 wounded. Airing a week before the first anniversary of the attack, the film, narrated by editor, author, TV personality and Mumbai native Fareed Zakaria, uses closed-circuit TV footage and intercepted cell phone conversations to offer a harrowing, minute-by-minute account from the point of view of victims and terrorists.

On the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 Pakistani men hijacked a fishing vessel, killed its crew and arrived in Mumbai, where they began shooting at civilians in crowded bars and hotels. While their phone calls were intercepted by Indian intelligence, the reaction by the local police and security forces remained confused at best.

We listen as a Pakistan-based controller called “Uncle” exhorts the men to kill and kill again, promising them martyrdom and eternal rewards. Many of the terrorists were uneducated peasants, and some were even sold to the terror cell by greedy relatives. The sound of “Uncle”’s orders and their timid, frightened compliance is arguably the most horrifying taped evidence of mass murder since the Jonestown tragedy.

“Mumbai” is hardly an easy film to watch, but it offers a mesmerizing account of human evil as well as a warning of future terror. At one point, the terrorists describe the Mumbai carnage as a mere “trailer” for “the movie to come.”

• “Project Runway” (9 p.m., Lifetime) completes its first season on Lifetime as Carol, Hannah, Irina and Althea go to New York to work on their collections for Fashion Week.

• A Hollywood couple of long standing whose very names conjure up images of movies and glamour of another era, Robert Wagner and Jill St. John host “The 2009 World Magic Awards” (7 p.m., MyNetwork). This two-hour awards ceremony showcases 14 “how did they do that?” performances by today’s best illusionists, escape artists and sleight-of-hand masters.

• Specialization is the key to many business successes. “Family Armor” (9 p.m., TLC) follows an extended Texas family of devout Mormons who make a good living bullet-proofing cars and creating bomb-proof shelters that would make Agent 007 feel right at home.

• According to legend, old school celebrity philanthropists like Frank Sinatra did their work in secret, writing checks, funding scholarships and hospital wings on the QT. Now do-gooding has become a form of publicity and branding. “Top 20 Celebs Gone Good” (7 p.m., VH1) features bold-faced-names known for charity work.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Bryce searches for a woman from his vision on “FlashForward” (7 p.m., ABC).

• Gary Sinise narrates the last three episodes of the 10-part “WWII in HD” (7 p.m., History).

• David orders Michael to a corporate conclave on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Bowling can be murder on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A Boston body snatcher emerges on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Liz’s apartment building faces big changes on “30 Rock” (8:30 p.m., NBC)

• A crime strikes close to home on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Dennis becomes a mentor of sorts on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (9 p.m.).

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