When Bollywood makes movies based on Indian accomplishment stories, they’re generally much awaited despite the fact that the entire viewer base already knows the entire story. Regardless, we love to cherish the country’s accomplishments and are willing to pay to watch a story retold in a visually elaborate manner. It makes us feel like we’re watching history unfold, and helps us connect to the country’s greatness on a new level.
Mission Mangal had this advantage since the day it was conceptualized. Mangalyaan is one of India’s proudest achievements, and even people like me who understand squat about science tend to beam with pride speaking about this milestone by ISRO. A large part of the Indian movie audience had already decided they’re watching Mission Mangal since the day they heard its coming.
Indian audiences deserve movies like Mission Mangal because the story is worth telling a thousand times over. It is an agreed fact that Bollywood’s slow transit towards realistic stories such as this one is a welcome change as opposed to the old love story and melodrama it has stuck with since ages. Indian audiences watching the glorified versions of true stories that need to be told is always better than movies that result in nothing else but delusional mindsets. In that regard, Mission Mangal has done a great job bringing forth the process of a landmark achievement in the history of the country. Surely, a lot of youngsters who have watched the movie have felt an urge to pursue a dream of becoming a scientist at ISRO.
The other side of the coin, however, remains. Despite having a story in hand that was an instant crowd puller, Mission Mangal did not risk completely leaving behind the Bollywood masala factor that it incorporates into pretty much everything. It is a complete mood killer to be watching a totally useless sequence of Tapsee Pannu grabbing a man’s penis while learning to drive. Or watching Sanjay Kapoor attempt a sad little dance to be proclaimed a hero in a pub. Or watching Vidya Balan’s son be an unnecessary revolutionary taking up the path of Islam within a Hindu family.
Some parts of the movie which are additions such as the Puri making sequence within a sophisticated board room of ISRO, celebrating the birthday of the scientist within the team members to motivate them, a laboriously scripted negative character hailing from NASA and the almost-impossible scene where Tapsee Pannu shuts down the entire power supply and turns it back on to re-establish communication with a satellite – though very close to cringe, are perhaps acceptable. But Mission Mangal can definitely do without the bar and other scenes mentioned above.
Sure, it is easy for a viewer to be criticising things that the director and actors worked so hard to bring to life. But one cannot help but notice these things, especially when we expected to watch the process that made Mangalyaan possible. With a storyline like that in hand, the makers could easily have taken the risk of leaving behind the signature Bollywood style of storytelling and taken a completely unexplored path in Hindi cinema. Considering the already existent fan base for the story, the movie would definitely have worked out. This makes me wonder; if a storyline like Mars Orbiter Mission did not inspire Bollywood to let go of drama, what can?! With actors like Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan in the lead, I feel that an opportunity for Bollywood to try out a bold new making style was missed out here. Keeping in mind the percentage of people who prefer that Bollywood gave up its melodrama, this attempt would have been largely welcomed. And if ISRO’s Mangalyaan wasn’t a real story, Mission Mangal would have been just another unrealistic crap. Thanks to the existent pride in the mission among the audience – the elements went accepted and the movie worked out.
The movie definitely has its positives though. I am an Akshay Kumar fan myself and I firmly believe his choice of movies lately is just what Bollywood audience needs. Movies like Mission Mangal are hinting towards a seriously slow but existent potential of Bollywood to get out of the mundane love and unrealistic action plots. Of course, the makers deserve every bit of credit for the scenes that involve technical developments. Though viewers used to Interstellar levels may not agree, Mission Mangal has its fair share of graphic excellence. Even with the factors that we could do without, Mission Mangal is undoubtedly one of the best movies in Bollywood, keeping in mind the otherwise available content like ‘My business is my business, none of your business.’ We’d choose Mission Mangal ANY DAY.
Featured image taken via Google