The Red Planet seems to be in everybody’s orbit these days. If US space agency NASA has a long-term programme of sending humans to Mars, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ ‘Blue Origin’ has set its eyes on it and maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk, with his speed vehicle SpaceX, has unveiled plans to reach Mars by 2022.

India is not very far behind in this race to study the planet, which is widely believed to hold the potential to support human life. In 2013, it achieved what many advanced nations could not — send a space probe, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) at a meagre cost of ₹450 crore and succeeded in the first attempt to orbit the planet. Colonising it, trying to find life and map the planet are all in the realm of the next two decades with the Russian, European and Chinese space agencies also in the race.

Therefore, the story of India’s Mars odyssey, Mangalyaan, was waiting to be told. Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar and director Jagan Shakti, just did that. Like with his previous films, this time, too, Akshay Kumar tries his hands on a theme which hasn’t been attempted in Hindi cinema before. 

Also starring Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menon and Kriti Kulhari in the lead roles, the film is directed by Jagan Shakti. Akshay is playing the role of scientist, Rakesh Dhawan who was the main man behind the whole mission. The film depicts a journey of an underdog (ISRO). India’s inter-planetary exploration and research dreams have been ignited by the success of Mangalyan. The mission resulted in many achievements for the country. India joined the exclusive club of four space agencies to orbit Mars, the others being the Russian Federal Space Agency, NASA, and the European Space Agency.

First things first, the film offers a new experience to the Hindi audience. Though there are shots where you feel the CG could have been done in a better way, the crew has done a decent job considering the budget and the time involved in the making. The screenplay, however, is quite predictable and the challenges which the protagonists face and the manner in which they overcome them aren’t convincing in certain places. The lack of a strong antagonist and emotional scenes needed in such a genre, too, dilute the tension. A twist towards the climax and a few logical loopholes also affect the flow of events. The infusion of small dose of light-hearted comic scenes and dialogues even in serious scenes for the characters Rakesh and Tara weakens the otherwise tense mood of the film.

On the positive side, Jagan Shakti does justice to the character of Rakesh, mission head, while Tara, Kritika, Eka, Varsha, Neha, Parmeshwar and Ananth could have had more interesting scenes. The background score by Amit Trivedi is another positive element in the movie. Akshay Kumar & Vidya Balan are brilliant in their respective roles and they are well supported by other actors in the film.

Mission Mangal is a fantastic story that ignites the dreams of a billion Indians through the dedication of the Mangalyaan team. And it’s a matter of great pride what the ingenuity and perseverance of this team, driven by women scientists achieved. Mission Mangal shows the grit and belief to achieve something that the world looks up to.  On the whole, Mission Mangal could have been much more considering the newness of its genre, but the attempt is certainly a laudable one.

It hardly matters; if this movie earns millions (it definitely will) or not; but it will certainly win hearts.

Star: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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