Mission Mangal

In the new movie Mission Mangal, almost every character is drawing inspiration from things they see in real life. One’s trick to make Poori becomes the foundation of the project and at a crucial point, one character switches off the power of the main system and turns it on remembering what her husband said when her computer got hung. Mission Mangal is spoon-feeding intelligence to the least common denominator. The semi jingoistic drama is really away from science and that’s the big reason why I just couldn’t look at this movie as a good attempt.

In 2010, Rakesh Dhawan and his team are on the Chandrayaan space mission and due to some technical errors, that mission failed and he was subsequently assigned to do the Mars mission of ISRO which everyone considered as an impossible task as no country has managed to go to Mars on the first attempt. But the movie here shows us how Rakesh Dhawan and his team, largely comprising of women, managed to do this historic feat within the constraints of budget and skepticism.

If you are someone who believes that movies like Toilet Ek Prem Katha and Padman are great examples of filmmaking, then you should stop reading this review right here. Balki who helmed the director’s chair in Padman is the creative director and writer of Mission Mangal. The main problem I have with this movie is that it doesn’t seem to have the seriousness it demands. By seriousness, I am not saying it has to look like a complicated movie. But when you are making a movie about India’s greatest achievement in the international space research, your protagonists dancing to a song cleaning their office premises and Sanjay Kapoor dancing to the tunes of Akhiyan Milaoon Kabhi is JUST NOT OKAY. When the scientists in ISRO are pitching solutions, me as a viewer was thinking “seriously? Just like that?”. You need something more than just metaphors of 1983 world cup victory to motivate a scientist.

Akshay Kumar is firing patriotism and optimism through his character from all angles. The star of the movie for me was Vidya Balan. In one scene she gives a moving speech to her colleagues and chokes at the end of it. Well, that choking sort of made the speech look so real on-screen. She had everything the movie and most of her co-stars lacked, specifically earnestness and subtlety. Rest of the cast including names like Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menen, Sharman Joshi, Kriti Kulhari, Sonakshi Sinha, etc are routine characters who just don’t stay with you. They are all characters written in the laziest of ways possible.

Jagan Shakti is not trying to make a sophisticated and perfect film about India’s historic achievement. He along with Balki is trying to make things look way too simple for the audience to understand. The only take away for me from this film was that I was able to understand the principle they applied to make this mission work. Other than that it is simply a template one has seen in many movies. Towards the end, the screenplay is so flat and they are showing scenes after scenes to justify why all these major actors were roped in to play roles. The writing is forcefully incorporating the personal life struggle and professional life problems of its characters. Sanjay Kapoor’s husband character was placed to show how progressive Vidya Balan’s character was but it turned out to be a really superficial addition to a movie that was struggling to say something emotional within this usual space mission drama. The cinematography was good. I don’t think Amit Trivedi will be happy with the kind of songs like Dil Pe Mars Hei. Visual effects were tacky in many areas.

There can be two extreme views about this movie. One is that it conveyed the struggle of ISRO team to a big audience. And the second one is that it made the efforts look like a lower primary class’ science experiment. The movie has not acknowledged the scientific knowledge of these scientists in a serious way. A historic achievement like Mangalyaan deserves a movie that appreciates the intelligence of the scientists and the viewers. Mission Mangal just doesn’t have that.

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Final Thoughts

A historic achievement like Mangalyaan deserves a movie that appreciates the intelligence of the scientists and the viewers. Mission Mangal just doesn’t have that.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.