In 2014, The New York Times came under fire for a cartoon carried with an article titled India’s Budget Mission to Mars. The cartoon belittled the achievement. Indian citizens and media had responded then. Through Mission Mangal, the makers turn raconteur and offer the audience a sneak-peak into the life of those scientists who made India proud.
The space drama is heavily fictionalised but strikes a chord with the audience more because it celebrates the power to dreams.
For the uninitiated, Mission Mangal is inspired by ISRO’s (Indian Space Research Organisation) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and is about the team of scientists who undertook the challenge of completing the ‘cheapest’ interplanetary mission ever in the world.
The writing is not pure genius; but the execution and the ensemble of the cast leave you engaged, patriotic, and even amazed at times.
Wrapped in the belief that home science can be used to rescue the team and explain the complex issues of space-science helps the story to connect with the audience at large. The story has multiple tracks, each tracing the issues the characters are fighting in their life. Akshay Kumar is intelligently selecting scripts on social issues and patriotic themes, which is now his recipe for success. It’s also a huge respite from his 90s avatar of Khiladi Kumar. However, in Mission Mangal, despite owning a chunk of witty dialogue and one-liners, he gives ample space to his co-stars.
Vidya Balan plays Tara Shinde, a scientist who also believes in the Supreme Power, despite being mocked by her son. She scores an extra star in this review for the team.
Her performance reinstates her utmost conviction and devotion to the characters she plays. She brings in a maternal touch to her character, often reminding us of the punchline from her last film - Main Kar Sakti Hai. Akshay and Vidya's platonic chemistry is beautifully etched in the storyline. Dalip Tahil has played his role well as an expert from NASA who is brought in after one of the projects fails. Vikram Gokhale has a very small but epochal role, and it's a treat to see him on screen.Sonakshi Sinha is effortless; Kriti Kulhari and Nitya Menon do complete justice to the part they were offered. It’s disheartening to see Tapasee Pannu has got a very little to do. However, she doesn’t disappoint, and her sincerity touches your heart. Sharman Joshi as Parmeshwar Naidu and H. G. Dattatreya as Ananth Iyer make their presence felt with their acting prowess and shoulder the responsibility along with Akshay Kumar to induce lighter moments.