While making a film on a real-life incident, there are two kinds of approaches a filmmaker can take. Either s/he can stick to the facts and narrate the story in the most realistic manner or s/he can add a bunch of fictional elements to make the film more commercial or appealing to a wider section of the audience. Mostly films which feature big stars belong to the second category. ‘Mission Mangal’, the new Hindi release is based on the Mars Orbiter Mission undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
A space mission led by Rakesh Dhawan (Akshay Kumar), a much-revered scientist at ISRO bites the dust because of an error in judgement by another senior scientist Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan). Though it is Tara’s fault and she is willing to own up to it, Rakesh takes the blame on himself and is then, asked to work on India’s Mars Mission which has been lying in shambles and is not expected to take off anytime soon. While Rakesh rightfully sees this transfer as punishment, Tara spots an opportunity here. She feels a relatively weak satellite which they have at their disposal can actually reach Mars in two years. She shares the idea with Rakesh who first dismisses it but eventually, realises the potential in it. Soon, they assemble a team largely devoid of experts and start working towards accomplishing Mission Mangalyaan.
As stated earlier in the review, this is the kind of film which, though set in reality, takes a lot of creative liberties and showcases the events a little differently from the way they happened. The science in the film has been explained in a very simple and yet innovative manner for it to make sense to each and every audience member. While accuracy and logic have been compromised to a certain extent, entertainment value has been not. The film manages to keep you engrossed in the proceedings from the first reel to the last. And, therein lies the victory of the film. Having said that, when you watch the film you get convinced of the fact that the makers have taken enough creative liberties and dramatized the events considerably. As a viewer, you do not really mind that as you get entertainment aplenty.
The film also scores because it defines each of its primary characters very well. It gives one a good glimpse into their personal lives and helps us see where and how they derive their strengths from. There is Eka Gandhi (Sonakshi Sinha), a fiercely ambitious young woman whose need to be independent comes from the fact that she has been raised in an orphanage. Neha Siddiqui (Kirti Kulhari) is a young divorcee who has been unable to get a house on rent because of her surname/religious identity.
Akshay Kumar is fabulous in the role of the man who has devoted his life to science and cannot see anything beyond that in life. Vidya Balan effortlessly brings to life a character which a lot of working women would be able to identify with. Sonakshi Sinha has never looked so beautiful in a film; apart from looking ravishing she delivers a very confident performance. Sharman Joshi does not get enough scope to perform but does well as always. Nithya Menen and Kirti Kulhari fit their parts well and deliver solid performances. H G Dattatreya is fabulous as Ananth Iyer. Sanjay Kapoor is fantastic as Sunil, Tara’s husband. The scene in which breaks into a famous song from one of his most successful films is bound to be received with claps and whistles. The same, perhaps, cannot be said about the scene which follows next when he is intoxicated but is driving his daughter and wife home.
It is difficult to believe that the film has been helmed by a first-timer. Debutant director Jagan Shakti shows tremendous potential as a filmmaker and one looks forward to see what he makes next. The script, which he has written along with Nidhi Singh Dharma and Saketh Kondipathi, is pacy and focusses on what it aims to deliver. The aim was to make an inspiring, masala film on a real-life event and they have succeeded in achieving that.
‘Mission Mangal’ is a well-made film that sheds light on an important achievement of the country in an entertaining manner. The film is in the same space as ‘Super 30’ which released a few weeks back – a bit of realism mixed with dollops of drama.