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MISSION MANGAL - A proud SPACE MISSION presented in the format of a silly but entertaining HEIST MOVIE, mocking the Science and the Scientists in order to please the box-office. (An Analysis by Bobby Sing)
16 Aug, 2019 | Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / Just In / M

The experience of watching the latest project in the line-up of all real life inspired, nationalistic films successfully followed by the new age Bharat Kumar thankfully taught me a few interesting as well as important lessons, that are sure going to be a good read, if not anything else, due to the obvious reasons.

Firstly it made me realize, that even after almost four decades of watching Hindi movies in theaters on every Friday, I still get excited as a film begins, still get carried away by a brilliant start and still believe that the makers will somehow continue with the same vision and execution for its entire duration resulting in a great film. The realization occurred when after an engaging and promising 10-12 minutes of MISSION MANGAL, I excitedly posted/tweeted that the film begins superbly grabbing you from the collar – only to later accept that it was nothing like that and the post/tweet was written hurriedly just like a hyper-kid. 

Hence the first lesson learned from the film was to,
‘Wait till the last ball gets thrown and don’t decisively tweet about a film at least till the Intermission, giving you a fair idea’.

Secondly as the end credits started rolling, it further made me learn the fact that despite heading towards the third decade of the new millennium and having so many positive shifts in the film-making process in Hindi Cinema exploiting new genres, it’s still possible to make a senseless or rather juvenile film strangely based on a real life SPACE MISSION, proudly quoting, one of the most famous legendary icons of the country Sh. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
 
In fact not only possible to make such film, but quite easy to sell it too conceived in a silly yet entertaining form, to the viewers riding high on the nationalistic wave, strongly supported by a leading STAR.
 
So the second lesson I got from the film was that – Here anything and everything can be sold in the name of nationalism, provided its supported by a big name and has a light hearted comic tone throughout, making you laugh at the key characters - even if they are the reputed scientists of our nation, we otherwise ought to be very proud of in a highly respectful manner.
 
The thought strongly came to me watching the actual pictures of all scientists shown in the end credits and it forced me to think that – Did they all deserve to be remembered and applauded in this way through such a phony and comical film? (I don’t know if some of you also had that thought while walking out of the theater!)
 
Anyway moving to the third lesson I got from MISSION MANGAL – which can also be considered a positive one in terms of writing, its about the way the writers very cleverly present a crucial space mission of a country in a typical HEIST MOVIE format involving a big team of experts, a plan and many timely surprises.
 
Cannot say if a few friends cracked it or not, but MISSION MANGAL has been entirely written and executed as an engaging HEIST MOVIE to be straight, wherein:
 
A. A leader forms (or gets) his team, after a recent failure with a motive to prove a point or giving back an answer.
 
B. All the team members are introduced one by one, with entertaining individual sequences building the curiosity.
 
C. Every member has a personal back-story that is presented at intervals introducing more emotionally likable characters.
 
D. Two or more members within the team experience some romantic attraction as a sub-plot. (here they are Sharman and Sonakshi)
 
E. One member is quite panicky about something (here its superstition and virginity)
 
F.  Antoher member is the odd man in the team who otherwise looks a misfit (here he is the old scientist)
 
G. They all contribute their own bit in the specialized equipment or skill required for the mission planned.
 
H. The mission has a specific time format to be strictly followed by all.
 
I. There is a typical villain character as the biggest threat, who keeps creating new problems disturbing the hidden agenda (here we have Dalip Tahil).
 
J. A positive character, who helps the team execute their plan coming at the right moments (here he is Vikram Gokhale).
 
K. Just before the mission is near completion, a problem occurs.
 
L. That problem gets solved from the weakest looking team member all of a sudden stunning the team as well as the viewers (here she is Taapsee Pannu).
 
M. And then the mission gets accomplished after a few last minute hiccups bringing smile on to your faces, providing the entertainment promised in return for the ticket bought.
 
Ironically MISSION MANGAL exactly follows the above mentioned pattern. But the only issue is that the film is not about any heist but about our proud and successful National Space Project bringing forward our National Treasures – the respected Indian scientists who are sadly not presented or introduced to the nation in any appreciable manner. The team members here are more or less all messy, confused and comical characters, actually fulfilling the requirement of a commercially successful film.
 
Yes a space mission targeting Mars surely needs to be simplified in a decent manner in order to reach the general audience of a Hindi mainstream film. But the way the makers do that with examples of Kitchen gas, hot oil, pooris, home-appliances and more seriously over-simplifies everything in a highly ridiculous manner, killing its real essence. 
 
At times it becomes quite painful to accept science being dumbed down in such a style, including a skillful scientist more worried about superstitions and his virginity, contradicting his own qualifications. Moreover it was honestly weird to see the Mars Mission department of the reputed ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) operating from a big garage kind of deserted building in the backyard, the team of scientists dancing to a song with brooms, a reputed senior of ISRO dragging her husband into a disco where they suddenly dance to a hit song of the past (forcibly bringing in the nostalgia) and then the male scientist getting saved from the goons by the army of women in the city’s metro train. But above all, it was so absurd to see none of the people surrounding the key scientists speaking in any kind of technical language in order to oppose their ideas or mission (only pointing towards the budget).
 
Here no doubt the above mentioned sequences were all forcibly added to feed the entertainment quotient of a commercial Hindi film based on a Space Mission. However, I strongly feel that this was the contribution of R. Balki (writer and creative director) to the project, converting a SPACE MISSION film into a largely likable entertaining family advertisement, focusing more on the personal lives of the scientists instead of their professional skills. 
 
Heading towards conclusion, MISSION MANGAL directed by the debutant Jagan Shakti is actually a very smartly made film to please the audience, least interested in realistically enlightening them about the actual happenings. It does care to inform about the achievements through certain inclusions (specifically dialogues), but doesn’t present the subject and the reputed protagonists in any respectable manner. 
 
For instance just think for a while on this one phrase explaining the entire film.
 
“A fictionalized account of India’s famous Space Mission”
A fictionalized account of a country’s famous Space Mission ………………. Really!!!!!!!
 
To be fair with the performers, everyone portrays his or her given character with conviction, but the depth remains missing in the writing, due to which one doesn’t really feel connected with any one of them except Vidya Balan (mainly due to her interaction with the young musician son). Akshay Kumar begins differently (singing old hindi songs fitting the situations) but then simply forgets about the songs and goes back to his same seen before tactics pretending to be the hero, instead of a concerned and devoted scientist.
 
Making an honest confession, I was still okay with the silly but light hearted entertaining presentation of the subject minus the unrequired and fake commercial insertions or the graphics. 
 
But then....... a sequence came……… and stood up one of the young women scientists in the team and she switched off 'The Unguarded Mains' of a 400 crore National Space Mission project, disconnecting all the links with the Indian satellite sent in the space......... without consulting the authorities or following any kind of strict protocol of one of the most important organization of the nation.
 
That moment I was simply left stunned, watching the film with my jaws wide open.
 
And that was the moment I quickly realized my foolish mistake and said..., 
"Oh! So this was actually a COMEDY!"
 
So for me, MISSION MANGAL is not a space mission film at all. In reality it’s a light hearted comical family drama focusing on an underdog, which thankfully informs you about the historical MARS ORBITER MISSION successfully completed by the ISRO team in a short time period. INDIA became the first country to do it in its very first attempt and that too at a very nominal cost much less than the world’s leading countries. Plus another proud feature of this National Triumph remains that there were mostly women in the team of scientists completing this ambitious project.
 
Having said that, MISSION MANGAL knowingly or unknowingly also hides a basic fact from the viewers, about this reputed mission. The film ends in 2014, with the voice over of PM Narendra Modi proudly speaking about the rare triumph congratulating all, but never clearly reveals the fact that the project actually got initiated a couple of years back by the then Prime Minister S. Manmohan Singh
 
Sharing another entertaining thought, I had after watching the film, had respected Kalam Sir seen MISSION MANGAL, then he would have had a hearty laugh and gone back to his work saying, 
“Keep entertaining the people, but spare the SCIENCE please".
 
In all this is a film made on a national space mission with a childish approach. So the kids are sure going to enjoy the show as a funny, emotional, entertaining as well as informative film.
 
But do take extra care that your kids or even the unaware adults don’t form any false perception about our country’s INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, its work and our respected scientists. This film portrays both the organization and its members in a very light hearted, comical way, downgrading their highly important and complex work to some absurd levels.
 
So please see that the kids don’t take that home, getting some weird ideas about Science, Scientists or Space Research and Exploration Missions conducted by the reputed and highly talented teams.
 
As a solution, the best thing would be that after the kids watch the film, give them a book to be read at the earliest by Sh. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam - most recommended would be his autobiography titled WINGS OF FIRE. It’s a slim book and will probably break all their false notions formed by the commercial depiction in the film.
 
Sharing my personal experience, a young teenager in our family had already read the book and more about the project and very well knew how the film had tweaked it all to please the common filmgoer. I then asked him to watch an English gem HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) directed by Theodore Melfi, which is also a biographical account of a Space Project at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) focusing on the racial discrimination practiced there with the coloured people. It’s a period film of the early 60s but has some amazing thematic similarities with MISSION MANGAL (which I would be presenting in another article soon).
 
The young boy watched HIDDEN FIGURES at night (its available on Hotstar with English Subtitles) and then called me up in the early morning. He said only these few words before hurriedly disconnecting the phone. 
 
And he said,
“You were right, the Hindi film is indeed an entertaining, dramatic comedy and not a Space Mission movie at all.”

Rating - 2.5 / 5 (And that too for its brilliant woman-centric beginning and an immensely important informative value.)
 
Note : MISSION MANGAL got released on 15th August 2019. While walking through the market marching towards the multiplex a day before to buy the tickets, I saw Independence SALE written at most of the shops on both sides of the road in order to attract the customers.
 
I reached the Mutliplex counter, but surprisingly they had once again increased the ticket price celebrating the Independence Day.
 
So in the same consumer market, where at one end the shops had organized SALES sharing their joy with the customers on the occasion of Independence Day, multiplexes had increased the ticket prices encashing the event, exploiting their customers taking an undue advantage. 
 
That is exactly the practice BTC has been opposing since many years. To be specific, (clearing the confusion of many), higher ticket prices at multiplexes - is one thing that can still be accepted as per the quality services offered. But increasing the prices every time a big film comes on festivals and holiday weekends is sheer exploitation of the ticket buyers and nothing else.
 
So as per BTC tradition one star gets deducted from every such film’s ratings due to the timely increased prices taking the viewers for granted.

Net Ratings: 1.5 / 5 

Tags : MISSION MANGAL An Analysis by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, MISSION MANGAL Review by Bobby Sing, Real Life Inspired Film, Hindi Film on Space Mission, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews By Bobby Sing
16 Aug 2019 / Comment ( 0 )
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