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Posted at: Aug 16, 2019, 5:34 PM; last updated: Aug 16, 2019, 5:34 PM (IST)

Mission Mangal - Movie Review: Science and sentiment meet to celebrate women power

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Film: Mission Mangal

  • Cast: Akshay Kumar, Taapsee Pannu, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Kirti Kulhari, Nithya Menen and Sharman Joshi
  • Director: Jagan Shakti
Mission Mangal - Movie Review: Science and sentiment meet to celebrate women power
A still from Mission Mangal

Nonika Singh

It could have been a boring science lesson. Or it could have turned into typical Bollywood masala. But Mission Mangal encapsulating India’s space journey into mars treads the fine line between science and keeping you entertained. Since at the heart of the film is a scientist who is as much a hausfrau, rocket science draws heavily from home science. 

Poori Bhaji research… this is how you work in India, mocks the newly appointed NASA scientist at ISRO. Even the more sagacious head of ISRO questions the team; according to you there is no difference between rocket science and home science. If you are a hard-core scientist or science buff putting aside these commonplace analogies of fuel saving in space might be off putting. Or perhaps not, for all scientific experiments we know are initially a dream, may be even a joke and most eureka moments are triggered just like that, falling of apple on the head.

Here clearly simple homilies have been put forward to make the complex science of space research easily digestible to common man. Nevertheless some hard-core facts too come forth. How the mission with a meagre budget of Rs 800 crores which too is reduced to half came about thanks to some innovative and out of the box thinking of our scientific think tank for instance. Of course, as with all films in Bollywood who have a tryst with reality here too we don’t know how much is fiction and how much truth.

But the crux is that India is the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit and the first nation in the world to do so in its maiden attempt. Copy that, says jubilant Akshay close to climax and one is tempted to join him in chorus. Without a doubt, the success story of India’s indigenous mission initially called MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) and also Mangalyaan is more than heartening. More so, since a whole lot of women scientists were involved in making the dream come true is doubly reassuring. So much so at one point, Akshay Kumar leading the team as Rakesh Dhawan quips tongue-in-cheek; is this Mahila Mangal Mandal. But rest assured, the film only trumps up women power who is a motley of all kind. From liberated Eka Gandhi (Sonakshi Sinha) to would be mom Varsha Pillai (Nithya Menen) to wife of an army officer (Taapsee Pannu) to a Muslim divorcee (Kirti Kulhari), they sparkle and shine. Even in brief screen time we get a sense of who they are and what they are capable of doing.

Then there is Sharman Joshi putting up a fine act. Of course, the film belongs to project director Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan) who is strikingly homely with a mind and scientific aptitude to boot. Akshay Kumar like always looks debonair may be more heroic than a scientist. And with his handsome looks and filmy sparring with NASA scientist (Dalip Tahil) it’s a little difficult to forget he is our superstar. But then without star power, it’s impossible to power such narratives which for most of us are no more than headlines in the newspapers. So hats off to the makers for taking us where few Indian audiences (unless it’s a superhero film) are keen to go.

With time may be we will have a purer science film perhaps when we as audiences are ready and more clued in to scientific jargon and advancements. But as of now watch it for sure as only a Bollywood film can tell you a space story all the while ensuring your eyes are brimming with tears of joy.

nonikasingh@tribunemail.com

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