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Movie Reviews

Posted at: May 25, 2018, 6:37 PM; last updated: May 25, 2018, 6:39 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: PARMANU: THE STORY OF POKHRAN

One for patriotism

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Film: Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran

  • Cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani
  • Director: Abhishek Sharma
One for patriotism
A still from Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran

Nonika Singh

Patriotism is the flavour of the season and of Bollywood too. So, here comes yet another film that is aimed to make your hearts swell with pride. Nuclear tests as a subject isn’t the easiest of themes to execute on the silver screen. India is a nuclear state we all know and indeed Pokhran occupies pride of place on our map and May 11, 1998 is a red letter day in our nuclear history. But beyond that unless you are a student of nuclear science the ignoramuses amongst us are oblivious of the details. 

Not that Parmanu decodes the science of our nuclear programme for us. Rather than dwelling too much on India’s nuclear capability, it zeroes on how the tests were conducted covertly right under the watchful eye of U.S. satellites. The film spares us the scientific lexicon.

Instead, it uses a simple analogy of Mahabharat, not to impress upon nuclear science though, but to make another point. Indeed, it’s not just the BJP ministers who are revelling in the glory of the ancient epic. Our hero Aswin (John Abraham) too seeks inspiration from the same and creates a five-member team à la Pandavas. 

Expectedly Pandavas include scientists from various scientific institutes of India. And guess what Pandavas may not have their Draupadi but do have a female member on board. Diana Penty plays Captain Ambalika a RAW agent looking out for everyone. 

The problem with Bollywood is that when it flirts with reality we often don't know when the line between fact and fiction gets blurred. Since this one also borrows from actual footage, the confusion is further compounded. At more than one place you have former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee making politically correct statements. Nawaj Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Bill Clinton’s sound bites too are incorporated to lend credibility to a film which otherwise seems to be running on thin ice. 

A lot of think tanks must have come together and lot must have gone into the making of India’s nuclear programme. Trust Bollywood to make it a heartfelt experience. And on that count alone the movie is worth a watch.  Indeed, the family angle (can a hero be without an emotional quotient?) and the spy bit is played out a bit too much. And no prizes for guessing—the chief villains here are not just the US satellites but also an ISI operative who in connivance with a CIA agent lends drama to the film. Mercifully, the film doesn't move into Pakistan bashing zone. Rather the climax tells you how the tests were withheld for few minutes since the wind was flowing in the direction of Northwest that of Pakistan. True or false…we don’t know but a lot of actual images do corroborate with what the film tells you. Dates are right and the names of nuclear shafts are on point too. Wish the characters too were more spot on. Despite the presence of some fine actors such as Yogendra Tiku, they don’t get enough room to endear themselves to you as much as they ought to. The film, however, despite flaws touches a chord. 

Even though you can’t help but wish that a subject as vital as nuclear explosion deserved a better researched film. But a film is a film…and this one delivers not just nuclear tests but also has your attention as it races to recap the moment of glory.  

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