For a person like me who handles his cell phone with difficulty and is clueless about its intricacies, Mission Mangal is rocket science. The loopholes in the narrative from a scientific viewpoint are therefore beyond the pale of my read or view of the great mission.
An engrossing film, drama, heroics, emotional trajectories do creep in, for after all the film is not a documentary from ISRO but a feature salute to the ISRO achievement. Without delving any further on the credibility of claims and sticking to the achievement of the scientists, the film does its best and ensures that Padman does not go overboard.
The film starts with an abortive launch of GSLV “fat boy”. The name is interesting in the context of Little Boy and Fat Man (the names of the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) . The scientific bureaucracy is up in arms and the project in-charge Rakesh Dhavan (Akshay Kumar) is shifted to the non focal labs researching on Mission Mangal. He sees the demotion. Though the earlier failure is attributable to his colleague Tara Shinde (Vidya Balan), he owns it up. Challenges of various varieties including ridicule on failure, financial shortage, systemic opposition, the two get to creating a new team that dreams of being the first nation to send its satellite to Mars.
The new members recruited to the team are Krithika (Tapsee), Eka Gandhi (Sonakshi Sinha), Neha Siddiqui (Kriti Kulkarni), Varsha (Nitya Menen) and Ananth Iyengar (H.G Dattatreya). The lone support they get from the system is from a senior officer – Vikram Gokhale. They also face constant opposition from Rupert Desai (Dalip Tahil) who has just left NASA to be part of ISRO. The lady members all have a small tale to carry: Tara is a middle class lady with two children. Her husband Sunil (Sanjay Kapoor) is paranoid of the habits and practices of his adolescent children. Eka is moving in and out of relationships. Kritika is nursing her husband (Zeeshan Ayub) injured in a military action. Neha is in search of an apartment as a single lady and with a conflicting surname finds it difficult to find one, Varsha has a mother-in-law who nags that motherhood is deluding her.
Braving multiple roadblocks and hiccups, the team works towards its launch. The celebrations is prefaced by multiple challenges and seemingly simplistic solutions to serious outer space challenges. The cobweb laboratory is also overstated to drive home the indifference the system had for the project.
The likes of Tapsee, Nitya Menen and the very graceful Kriti Kulkarni are reduced to mere pops. The film is expected to revolve round Akshay and when he has a designer pulpit he sure delivers. However in this outing, he is subtly checkmated by the ever reliable Vidya Balan. Though she takes potshots at herself as being the last person to speak of weight, she adds weight to the script. Akshay is good . Mr. Reliable has sure come a long way. Who would imagine Mr. Khiladi as a space scientist!!. As ever, he carries the script with consummate ease and helps the film journey its grey area. As the original team, this team too deserves what the theme song suggests: Sabashiyaan.