John Abraham was the man who produced a solid movie named Madras Café and his director Shoojit Sircar made it such an authentic and well detailed fiction based on a true event. John comes again with a based on true story material and this time it is Parmanu, the story about the efforts that were put into make the Pokhran nuclear tests happen. By going with the ongoing wave of blatant patriotism and the sheer simplification of the gigantic tasks they had to undergo, Parmanu is in a way informative about the political and practical scenarios of that time, but it is hardly a moving tale about a mission.
So Ashwat Raina, an IAS officer in the research and analysis wing is the main protagonist of the movie. In 1995 he suggests India should do nuclear tests to prove the strength in front of the world. But unfortunately that plan didn’t work out the way he intended and he had to step out. 3 years later under the government of the new PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ashwat was asked to helm the project which needs to be done without a trace. Parmanu basically shows us how the operations were executed jumping across political and tactical hurdles.
Patriotism has become a selling point for Bollywood films and the director Abhishek Sharma very blatantly uses it to get the applauds. If you have felt the usage of patriotism in recent films like Toilet, PadMan etc. as a bit too desperate, this one will also make you feel the same way. Sharma’s bureaucrats act like really silly people. The first half an hour of the movie is extremely dull with really thin layers given to the characters. But luckily the movie shifts its gears in the second half and for a viewer like me who wasn’t really aware about the back-story of the Pokhran incident, this was an informative movie. Having said, the diluted presentation of the thriller with too much of predictable sentimental elements makes it a typical Bollywood movie and honestly it shouldn’t have gone for that, looking at the fact that a Raazi with less patriotic melodramas managed to work in the box office.
John Abraham who shares the bigger burden in terms of characters is honest, but to be honest there are times when it is hard to believe him as a guy who doesn’t know to fight or pull the trigger. Diana Penty is just there for the sake of having a woman in the team with no real role to play in the operation. Boman Irani was convincing as the principle secretary Himanshu Shukla. The other characters in the movie have screen time but no real space to perform rather than hearing what Ashwat says.
Abhishek Sharma who has made the Tere Bin Laden movies at times mixes that genre with this one, especially when depicting the operations of CIA and ISI. Factually most of these things might be true, but visually Sharma makes it look silly. The kind of sophistication one would expect in a huge secret operation like this was missing. The screenplay has this challenge of making it look exciting as we already know the climax. To an extent the movie succeeds. But like I said the film suffers largely from the explained narrative it has got. It almost felt like the film gave up on the intelligence of the viewer. The cinematography was okay, but the visual effects weren’t that pleasing. The sets felt like sets.
Parmanu doesn’t make a mess by following a specific template. But the clichés are there and their attempt to make it look like an Argo like edge of the seat thriller never really takes off. If you are someone whose knowledge about the Pokhran Nuclear tests is very limited, Parmanu can give you a better perspective about how difficult it was on an execution level.
If you are someone whose knowledge about the Pokhran Nuclear tests is very limited, Parmanu can give you a better perspective about how difficult it was on an execution level.