Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu
Director: Jagan Shakti
What’s it about:
Mission Mangal is a highly fictionalized account of the true events leading to India’s successful mission to Mars against all odds. The film is also a peak into the lives of the scientists from different circumstances who come together to make the mission impossible, possible!
Ever wondered how Akshay Kumar manages to make a film about huge national achievements at a speed with which Vidya Balan is frying Pooris in Mission Mangal to demonstrate some complex astrophysics?
Well, after watching Mission Mangal you will get the answer. There is little fact and a lot of fiction to ensure that his film panders to everyone – from Martians to masses of planet earth. Constantly drawing parallels between home science and rocket science, Mission Mangal’s leading man Akshay Kumar as Rakesh Dhawan is a man on a mission that no one wants to be a part of as it’s almost doomed and destined for disaster.
After a failed rocket launch, he is entrusted with the job of launching a satellite in the orbit of Mars. So he goes on a talent hunt to form a crack team of geeks who can make this possible. In them are four women and two men who are defined by their situations rather than characters. Their stories are more of a peculiar problem that define each of them. So while Nithya Menen is battling pressures to become a mother, Taapsee Pannu has to tend to an ailing soldier husband. While Sonakshi Sinha is nursing a recent break-up with her boyfriend, Sharman Joshi is a virgin with a ‘Mangal’ dosh. These bits are meant to make the story more humane and interesting but it also makes it less serious and takes away the focus from the making of an all-important mission.
Director Jagan Shakti and writers including R Balki dedicate a lot of time in their personal lives than showing what actually goes on within the exciting of corridors of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). And when the film does show us the workings of ISRO, the director dumbs it down to such an extent that it often seems frivolous and not worthy of such a crucial cause.
Performance wise, Akshay Kumar is dependable but as always too casual in his approach. Once again, he doesn’t bring in the finesse that an Aamir Khan would in a role that needs to inspire those around him for a greater cause. Among the women, Vidya Balan gets a nicely fleshed out backstory which is somewhat convincing and her performance is pitch perfect. Although, in spirit, quite similar to Tumhari Sulu’s Sulochana with a ‘main kar sakti hai’ attitude. Rest of the cast doesn’t get much to work with.
There are of course moments of pride by default that would make any Indian proud including a rousing climax. While there is no denying that Mission Mangal is about a great national achievement that we are all proud of, what we needed was a film that tells us the story of a stellar achievement minus the make-believe melodrama.