After watching the trailer of Mission Mangal, it was quite clear that the film is going to be a Bollywood movie full of dialogue-baazi. And the movie was much like what was expected. It begins in 2010 at ISRO with Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan) messing up the launch of a GSLV rocket nicknamed ‘Fat Boy’. Her boss Rakesh Dhawan (Akshay Kumar) takes the responsibility for the failure and is transferred to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission which might never see the light of the day. Tara convinces Rakesh to take up this challenge and that it is possible to go to Mars according to her ‘Puri theory’.
As the story progresses, we’re introduced to more such home science theories that give ‘Eureka moments’ to each scientist working on the mission. The opening credits mention R. Balki (Cheeni Kum, Shamitabh, Paa) as the writer & creative director of the film. So, you automatically expect to see something marvelous. Only an ad-filmmaker can fit in so much information about a stellar space achievement in two hours – you’d expect that. But nothing much of that sorts happen here. It maybe based on India’s greatest achievement in space, but Mission Mangal is still a Bollywood movie that tries hard to dumb down the intelligence.
Mission Mangal Trailer:
There’s less space, science and more home science and personal stories of the scientists – to make you care for the characters. But that helps only a little. An entire first half goes into setting up the whole thing. You go into interval anticipating that they will get to the point now. They do, but in a haphazard manner with a song and dance as the scientists giving a makeover to the Mars department. Also dealing with the problems in their personal lives as they crack the Mars mission.
It is difficult to make science and intelligence look interesting. It’s fine to break it down in simpler language with the help of analogies of cricket and daily life to make the audience understand. But the simplification is overdone in Mission Mangal.
This is Balki’s second film after Padman where he is telling a story of real-life visionaries and trying to reach out to a wider audience, majority of them being the masses. Massy dramatization is not new to the Indian audience and we love it. Director Rajkumar Hirani’s (Munnabhai MBBS, 3 Idiots, PK) filmography is a prime example of that.
What hurts Mission Mangal is that the achievements of the ISRO scientists have been reduced to just the ideas that popped in from a sailing ship on a cushion cover, frying puris, recycling plastic, and the great Indian hack of rebooting a system to make it work. Maybe, all or most of it could have happened during the mission. But unfortunately, it wasn’t shown smartly enough on screen for one to be convinced.