Written by R. Balki and team, ‘Mission Mangal’ is based on the story of India’s first interplanetary expedition to Mars with the contribution of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) scientists.
Directed by – Jagan Shakti
Produced by – Cape of Good Films, Hope Productions, Fox Star Studios
Music by – Amit Trivedi, Tanishk Bagchi
Starring – Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Tapsee Pannu
The Mission Mangal director Rakesh Dhawan, played by Akshay Kumar, along with Tara Shinde, played by Vidya Balan, leads a small team of junior scientists that includes Kritika Aggarwal (Taapsee Pannu), Eka Gandhi (Sonakshi Sinha), Varsha Pillai (Nithya Menen), Neha Siddiqui (Kriti Kulhari), Parmeshwar Naidu (Sharman Joshi), and Ananth Iyer (H.G Dattatreya). The team plans a least expensive expedition to Mars with several obstacles in their way.
Since there are hardly any films on rocket science in Bollywood, we understand its mass-based approach in the treatment of the film. And for the same reason, bureaucratese scientific language has been turned into an understandable one. This has simplified the complex Mission to Mars expedition, which India successfully completed at one go.
However, in order to achieve that, the film has brushed logic under the carpet and left a distorted impression due to its oversimplification of the concepts.
Anyhow, the film would invoke inert nationalism in you on several occasions, especially in the scenes where the aspiring Rakesh and team control the PSLV from the control room. And this sole purpose would scream from the top of their voice when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech is featured at the end of the film.
Talking about the women in the film, thankfully they have their own individual identity inside ISRO and not manvoiced by Kumar. Vidya Balan is amazing as Tara Shinde, who constantly juggles between usual housewife role and a project director and a chauvinist husband played by Sanjay Kapoor (who is chauvinist for no reason given). However, these women are not used to their full potential as such, like Kirti Kulhari who was excellent in a film like Pink . I got a sneaking suspicion that so many women seem to be there in the film for the sake of women empowerment, just by having a high ratio of women in the film.
Similarly, in an attempt to break many such typecasts, the film has taken some obvious stereotypes and showcased without any layers. For example stereotype alert 1: a divorcee and on top of that a Muslim woman who can’t find a home on rent; stereotype alert 2: another woman who smokes and sleeps around with different men because it’s her ‘choice’; stereotype alert 3: another woman who is a successful scientist at ISRO but takes IVF help under pressure from in laws and so on…
Amongst various other devices which are intended to be appealing to general audience, the most absurd was putting up our current leader’s speech about the success of Mission Mangal, which was actually started during the time of former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh but orbited into Mars after Narendra Modi came into power.
Having said that, the film has various light-hearted moments such as “Nasa ka Satyanasa”, “…Mars main paani hain kya…?” when Akshay Kumar is sent to Mars department which has low maintenance. Though not fully logical, these light moments help in keeping the audience engaged with the film.
All in all, Mission Mangal has its own charming flaws. But if you are in a mood to revive patriotic feelings within and open to watch an entertaining film, do give it a try.
Tip: Do not expect lot of Science logic while watching the film