Mission Mangal: Keeping the essence intact
Mission Mangal Review: Where there is an issue-based film, there is Akshay Kumar. But this time, along with him, the film had a humongous cast of the most talented females of Bollywood like Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, and more.
The recent film about the glorious chapter of Indian history – “Mission Mangal” packs in essential masala. There is a pleasant undercurrent of humour all along. Director Jagan Shakti and his battery of co-screenwriters (R. Balki, Nidhi Singh Dharma and Saketh Kondiparthi) set up smaller subplots of melodrama within the basic storyline to describe the personal lives of its protagonists — in rather unnecessary detail.
The film which reflects patriotism takes a few liberties of cinematic creativity too while doing that, it delves into the lives of the scientists who made this almost-impossible dream come true. The film throws light on the regular life and behaviour of scientists. The focus on human drama is endearing, but we would have like to see more action happening at ISRO, which we know very little of. The story picks up in 2010 when a team at ISRO is led by Rakesh (Akshay Kumar) as they launch a rocket into outer space. But that launch mission ends up in unexpected failure when a technical error forces the rocket to veer towards the earth.
The ill-fated error happens under the watchful eye of one of the mission directors Tara (Vidya Balan), but during the media-fuelled fiasco, later on, Rakesh takes the blame for it. As a result, Rakesh is assigned to the far-fetched Mars Mission at ISRO, which other scientists at the organisation believes is nothing but a flight of fancy. But, the patriotic Rakesh and the industrious Tara decide to fight the odds and put India on the space map, again.
Jagan Shakti’s script takes complex scientific jargon and simplifies it for the common man. The narrative also cleverly makes use of logic, home science and alternate science to add quirky entertainment into the mix.
The storytelling is backed by solid characters in the MOM team, who have scientifically thought out solutions for their real-life problems, too. MOM’s team comprises of five strong women Tara, Eka (Sonakshi Sinha), Neha (Kirti Kulhari), Kritika (Taapsee Pannu) and Varsha (Nithya Menen) who wrack their brains and come up with innovative, lowcost solutions for the Mars mission. Part of the same team are Parmeshwar (Sharma Joshi) and Ananth (HG Dattatreya).
The drama in the film is all what the audience needs, especially those who don’t have a knack for theories, equations, and numbers. Mission Mangal simplifies its complex subject so that viewers of all ages and backgrounds can engage with the story and the characters.
Though, obviously, the narrative could have focused more on the nuances of the mission and the authenticity of the mission control at ISRO. At times, the characters get a bit over-the-top and then on occasions the screenplay gets a bit pedantic. The performances by the ensemble cast are strong. Akshay Kumar leads the cast with Vidya Balan as the parallel lead. Both actors team up to give measured and engaging performances as scientists who give their heart and soul to realise India’s dream of being a big player in the international space race. They are ably supported by Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Nithya Menen.
Overall, it is a good film with emotional highs and drama. In the end, when you see India’s scientists celebrate their hard-earned victory with the Mangalyaan orbiting Mars, you can’t help but cheer for the triumph of a nation and its scientific success. Despite the ups and downs, this story does make you believe that dreams do come true, especially in the vast expanses of the outer space.