Mission Mangal

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)

quick review:

Two years worth of “eureka” moments fit into two hours make the film cute and as engaging as a well-made, animated film. Whether that was the makers’ intention, I know not.

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Director: Jagan Shakti
Running time: 135 minutes
More Movie Info

Mission Mangal - Preview

With its wholesome share of “impossible,” “we have to do it.”, “it will happen,” Mission Mangal seems to be about any project that no one thought possible, but was made so by the drive of the people involved. And even if we didn’t know how this one ended, we know how such films usually end, so there is really no point hinging on hopes for entertainment from the story.

The details, from whatever the trailer has to offer, seem like the 5-6 main characters are actually parts of one character. The women are rushed, over-eager, just educated, and experts in different fields. The men are basically Akshay Kumar and Sharman Joshi playing what looks like opposite ends on some facets of personality. Then you have the unbelieving boss person, the supportive partner, and so on. Basically, no interesting characters, either.

Thankfully, the mission in itself is interesting enough, for us to watch a film about it. That Akshay Kumar will be around to make it more glamorous and nationalistic, we shall try our best to ignore. If only, such a film were about science and not disproportionately about the nation.

Mission Mangal releases on 15 August 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

For a person who doesn’t quite understand the hullabaloo about space missions, I was engaged through the film. I was rooting for Ms. Tara and Co. I was in awe, as I am always, of what science has achieved and the stillness of the world beyond our world. Tears rolled down a couple of times, at least. Yet, watching Mission Mangal was an experience akin to watching an animated film. It is jumpy, and it’s excitable–even in moments of deep frustration.

But the broad strokes do come across as the film going overboard.

And when you sit down to analyse why you liked the film more than you expected to, you realise it is because it appeals to the Indian-ness in you. The “more in less,” the “why waste?” attitude. To know that an entire space mission was based on these tenets made the film, relatable at some level. That it had to be based on such principles because of bureaucracy and politics is a debate for another day. Also, though the film made it sound like solutions to the problems were mere hacks. They were based on actual experiments and innovations, which is quite inspiring.

But that is all about the mission. The film strings together “eureka” moments one after another. Again, as an audience, because I tried to imagine these moments in the mission itself, I was involved and eager for more. Else, the episodic treatment is as jumpy as any such treatment usually is. Which is why I was taken by surprise entirely when intermission came around. I didn’t even realise it has been over an hour already. Now, whether the credit goes to the screenplay or the mission itself is something we won’t be able to decipher easily.

A bit of the credit also goes to the dialogue. Some of it is witty, and other bits show awareness. Awareness of how the world works. Awareness of the power dynamics in a typical Indian family, in the workspace. Of course, none of it is thorough, but even the sparks catch your attention. In fact, at a couple of spots, I wondered if the line would have had a better impact if it weren’t Akshay Kumar delivering it. Not that his timing isn’t right; it is spot-on for some lines. But it is too Akshay-Kumar-y. You never once forget who is on the screen. And that could be the character’s undoing.

His character reminded me of Rajesh Khanna’s character in Bavarchee. He isn’t doing anything in particular but is the very visible catalyst that is necessary for the other characters to grow. In this case, though, It is Akshay Kumar, the actor who is supposedly necessary for the film to be more than a bunch of women acting like scientists.

In that sense, Mission Mangal can be thought of as patronising. It goes overboard in doing the right thing about gender, about religion. None of the three men have much of a backstory in contrast with how much we know about the five women. It even has women beating up men scene, à la Chak De! India. That too when Akshay Kumar is in the scene. What’s more the inspirational monologue, Mission Mangal’s “sattar minute” speech carried by Vidya Balan. And this time, Akshay Kumar’s character is out of town. He is conspicuous by his absence.

What is the film to do then? If it shows the women characters as having supportive male partners/mentors, it will be told off for showing the women “needing” men. If it empowers its female leads and portrays them as taker-onners of the world, it comes across as patronising. There is no winning here.

Whether the credit for what goes well is to the screenplay or to the mission itself is something we won’t be able to decipher easily.

The film chooses to paint a broad prejudiced picture, and the characters deal with the prejudices in small ways. I will take these tiny steps because they were refreshing to see in a movie. And also, that is how we see a change in real life, small steps. The way in which Tara deals with her casually sexist husband, for instance, is a positive sign in which films are dealing with the issue. She, like I have seen many women in real life do, treats his attitude even more off-handishly than he tries to impose his man-of-the-house-ness. “Oh, you called this house, “yours.” Fine, we will deal with that later. Let me undo your horrible parenting first.” Or when she tells her husband off almost flippantly, “stop all this drama about my job coming in the way of our family.” This ties in with those sparks of awareness.

But the broad strokes do come across as the film going overboard. Its take on religion, too is dodgy. A big-picture prejudice is given itsy doses of level-headedness.

Now, what any of this has to do with the mission itself is as good a question as any. Did a film about the mission have to step into the religion-sone? Does a movie have to have an “agenda”?

Anyway, it works in the film’s favour that it is not demanding on its actors. Each of them has to take one expression and stick to it. Though the film is about the people in the mission, the film is not really about its characters.

But hey, worse could have happened. It could have replaced all women in the team with men in the film. Who knows though, maybe that was its way of being on a stripped-down budget. Gender pay disparity is an issue for another movie. It could have also played a patriotic song–new/old; national song/anthem–in the background. But it wisely chose not too. Keeping the film a lot more grounded.

This Independence Day, the thought I was left with though, was that the ISRO team in real life was able to achieve what it achieved despite prejudices and biases. What then would humanity achieve when it rids itself of its biases. Till then though, we can take pride as a nation in having made a successful trip around Mars at a budget less than that of some Hollywood films, at a cost per kilometer less than that a per kilometer ride in a rickshaw...at less than 1/7th the cost of a statue.

- meeta, a part of the audience

39 reviewers(?) - 15 yays 20 so-so 4 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, MISSION MANGAL is engaging and entertaining while being patriotic in its feel. At the box office, it will be accepted whole heartedly by the audiences and has the potential to emerge as Akshay Kumar's highest grosser ever!... full review

Thumbs up, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Mission Mangal has a lot going for it especially in terms of narrative, dialogues and performances. It captures the spirit of scientists in a relatable light-hearted manner. Vidya Balan again proves why she is an acting powerhouse. It is a decent watch on Independence Day to celebrate the spirit of India space team and it's passion.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayur Sanap, Deccan Chronicle : ...To conclude, 'Mission Mangal' is well worth your time. It is educational, but entertaining. Positive without preachy. And family friendly in a genuine way.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...On the technical front, the CGI left much to be desired and so did the production design. The cinematography and editing were decent enough though. All-in-all, watch the film to savour a path-breaking milestone in India's space exploration history, never mind the scientific inaccuracies...... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...As ISRO completes a half century today (August 15), despite its set of flaws, 'Mission Mangal' turns out to be a heartfelt tribute to our space heroes who give us many reasons to be proud of our country. Copy that! I am going with 3.5 stars.... full review

Thumbs up, by Karan Dhillon, FirstPost : ...And a very special round of applause to the team of Mission Mangal for all the goosebumps and smiles it gave me and to the audience with this beautiful movie.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...Some movies make us believe in ourselves, some make us forget what we are while some take the leap to go to majestic extremes, MISSION MANGAL tries to do all these and achieves success. The climax will make you stand and salute these great Indians who made NASA eat its teeth in disbelieve and making India and Indians proud in universe. Akshay Kumar infectiously spearheads this rousingly magical salute to the mother, daughters and sisters of India on Independence Day. MISSION MANGAL is a must for every man, every woman, every Indian and every human.... full review

Thumbs up, by Lakshana N Palat, india today : ...Despite its flaws of excessive sermons and some crucial characters like Taapsee and Kirti not fleshed out completely, Mission Mangal makes for an entertaining Independence Day watch. That seems to be how the director intended it as well, a space-entertainer, rather than a hardcore scientific film. The flight might face some turbulence but it lands well.... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Overall, and especially because of the dry period that has preceded this film, “Mission Mangal” is a must-watch, especially for every patriotic Indian.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Overall it’s a complete masala entertainer, which you can enjoy with your family.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...Ultimately, Mission Mangal is enjoyable and entertaining. Even the jingoism doesn’t feel entirely out of place. Director Jagan Shakti delivers a space movie that lifts off and frequently soars. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five.... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...And yes, given that the film doffs a hat to the true-life heroes who accomplished the impossible feat, one hopes that the film’s collections at the box-office are ‘Mangal’ too.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...Despite a few flaws, this film is entertaining, gripping in parts, have some extremely engaging moments. Through Mission Mangal, the country doffs its hat to scientists of ISRO who made the unimaginable, a reality. There is subtle mention of Make in India and factually inaccurate liberty taken by makers to subtly give the credit only to NDA led government for the mission. However, politics in Bollywood films is a debate for a different day.... full review

Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Ultimately it’s a consummate Vidya Balan who rises above everything else and, thankfully, makes Mission Mangal all about a good-hearted matriarch instead of a patronising patriarch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anusha Iyengar, Times Now : ...Mission Mangal is a well-written film, brilliantly written in fact, for a movie based on real life incidents. There is not one cast member who does not contribute to the plot of the film. Every character has been given an equal screen space and well-deservedly. It makes you want to stand and applaud in the theatre towards the end.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...That mission to Mars never comes down to being the vital national triumph that it aspires to be. When Akshay Kumar isn’t busy sparring with the NASA returned idiot scientist (Dalip Tahil) he is busy humming old Hindi songs and chewing on a laddoo after an aborted mission because…well….the laddoo doesn’t say it can’t be eaten after a failure.... full review

So-So, by Sameer Salunkhe, cineblitz : ...It is difficult to make science and intelligence look interesting. It’s fine to break it down in simpler language with the help of analogies of cricket and daily life to make the audience understand. But the simplification is overdone in Mission Mangal.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : ...It’s a comic book take on the successful space mission, with competent performers, which is probably why it will work with audiences; plus these days Akshay Kumar can do no wrong!... full review

So-So, by Dhaval Mehta, DNA : ...It is an inspirational tale, but not a masterpiece. Watch it for Vidya and Akshay’s patches of brilliance.... full review

So-So, by Punarvasu Pendse, fullhyd.com : ...And therein lies the biggest problem with Mission Mangal - its progressive nature is only a front. The subliminal message in this movie is that it's okay to think outside the box only as long as you do it without shaking up the existing system. And it is for this reason alone that we cannot wholeheartedly endorse Mission Mangal.... full review

So-So, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...‘Mission Mangal’ is an out-of-this-world cinematic experience, but there’s a good chance that you will pivot around the women’s skills in this film.... full review

So-So, by Ankur Pathak, Huffington Post : ...Since it’s an Akshay Kumar movie, there’s a bunch of “Make-in-India” references and, well, spoiler alert, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (whose party wasn’t in power when Mangalayan was launched) actually pops in on the screen to rave about the cost-effective success of the Mars project.... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The poor-frying tactic does leave a smile on the face. And you do feel a swell of pride as the ‘yaan’ comes into view and settles successfully in orbit. Despite the over-arching presence of the latter-day Mr India, ‘sab mangal hai’.... full review

So-So, by Ambika Sachin, Khaleej Times : ...The movie could not have been released at a better date - with national pride at an all time high, Mission Mangal is a great watch if you want to celebrate India's space achievements, even if Akshay Kumar and his team give it a typical Bollywood treatment... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, the movie depicts a mission showcasing an achievement with a very predictable storyline. It fails to hold on to what was important for the script, instead includes irrelevant sub-plots dragging the narrative.... full review

So-So, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Until then, you've hopefully been entertained through comedy and drama. If science and the space mission was all you wanted to see, there's always a National Geographic documentary on Mangalyaan, playing on YouTube near you.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Releasing on the day ISRO completes a half-century, Mission Mangal seems a timely tribute to the unsung heroes who don’t wear a cape. But for a film that documents a singularly story, the writing doesn’t manage to conjure the thrill surrounding this epic achievement.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...All nicely set up, Mission Mangal is ready to soar into the stratosphere even as many questions hover over the film. How advisable is turning a serious science-themed drama into a populist entertainer complete with high drama and over-simplified plotting? On the evidence of what pans out on the screen, there can be no clear answer. Some parts of Mission Mangal do work; others don't.... full review

So-So, by Piyush Chopra, Now Running.com : ...If only the creatives behind Mission Mangal had gone deeper than newspaper headlines that can be found with a Google search, maybe this film could've gone where nobody had been before. In its present state, it's nothing more than a crowdpleaser that may get some applause on account of it's Independence Day release but will be long forgotten from the memories of that same crowd by the time our 73rd year of Independence comes to a close.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Mission Mangal makes a case for working moms, expecting moms, supportive spouses, independent women, against Islamophobia as well as extending agency to women, encouraging senior citizen participation and an inclusive, safe working environment.... full review

So-So, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...For all its flaws, “Mission Mangal” is an uplifting film. The film’s enthusiasm about its subject and its ability to make you care about its characters help even out the bumps in its path.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...In between the gimmicky jugaad philosophising and meaningless sub-plots, Mission Mangal manages to devote some time to space technology. The 133-minute movie finally gets some fuel as the Mangalyaan probe blasts off into space and eventually enters Mars’s orbit.... full review

So-So, by Vinayak Chakravorty, Sify Movies : ...The cast overall remains a big draw in a film that somehow becomes mediocre somewhere down its runtime, despite its subject. Mission Mangal ends up an ordinary film about an extraordinary feat.... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...Under the vision of creative director R Balki and an average execution by filmmaker Jagan Shakti, 'Mission Mangal' makes good with its emotional highs and drama. In the end, when you see India's scientists celebrate their hard-earned victory with the Mangalyaan orbiting Mars, you can't help but cheer for the triumph of a nation and its scientific success. Despite the ups and downs, this story does make you believe that dreams do come true, especially in the vast expanses of the outer space.... full review

So-So, by Shruti Shiksha, Zee News : ...'Mission Mangal' is a feel-good toast girl power, and the fact is an advantage for its female cast. Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Nithya Menen get well-crafted roles that fit seamlessly to give the film its multi-starrer entirety.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...The tragedy about such movies is that a story so rare can be told for the first time only once. Most makers waste this privilege. To put it mildly, the fault is in the stars of Mission Mangal. My only takeaway is a bit personal. My childhood neighbour was listed in the end credits as one of the mission’s chief architects. Tagline: Writer Taking Credit For Unknowingly Inspiring ISRO Scientist With Pointless Anecdote.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...Mission Mangal is fun and educational at one level, and Tara Shinde is inspiring in many ways, but make no mistake about this: the film’s elements of progressiveness mask a conservative, carefully status quoist core. This is a good study in how to be entertaining, exhilarating, exasperating, prejudiced and patronising all at once.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...The Mangalyaan had stunned the world. American publications put out racist cartoons about this third-world nation knocking on the doors of their exclusive cigars-and-planets club. We were incensed, and rightly so. Now in Mission Mangal — starring Akshay Kumar (one of our least hidden figures) and a shiny tinfoil version of ISRO that often looks like a lavish backdrop to a Rajinikanth song — we applaud a Prime Minister who had very little to do with supporting the mission. The message is clear: We shall create our own cartoons, thank you very much. Make in India.... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...It’s a little surprising to see this much religiosity in a film about scientific achievement. But it’s not at all unusual nowadays to see religion plastered all over a film about national pride.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

3 readers - 3 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Anshul

Yay! Thumbs Up, by pomita : Indian Hidden Figures. Not as good as Hidden Figures, but nice enough, and inspirational in parts.

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Raj Sharma : It is an amazing movie to watch.

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Some talk about virginity and sexual life.
  • Concept: India’s Mission Mangal
  • General Look and Feel: Bright and chirpy

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Direction:
Story:
Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Dialogues:
Screenplay:
Music Director:
Lyrics:

Comments (7)

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Anshul

Was that last line in your review really necessary?

@Anshul Was the clipping at the end of the film necesary?

Anshul

No, that wasn’t necessary at all. Your point taken.

But that statue is of a Congress leader, built by the BJP government to pay homage to a freedom fighter. Is there anything wrong with that? Our children read only about the Nehru-Gandhi family, there are airports, roads, statues of the Nehru-Gandhi family (and of elephants and Mayawati in UP). This statue of Sardar Patel reminds us and our children that there were people other than Gandhi family who fought for the nation. Why insult it because the political party that built it does not relate to our ideologies? There are other areas to attack them.

How is the political party relevant? Why should there be any statues at all, let alone expensive ones? From whatever little I know of them, many of these personalities, if not all, might have preferred no statue at all. Or, at least, I hope so. I am sure we can think of better ways to remind ourselves and our children of these personalities. That is my ideology, which also includes not insulting/attacking anyone. So, my apologies that it came across that way.

Point is, 7 Mission Mangals could have happened in the budget of one of these statues. Or maybe, the scientists who worked on them could have had better resources. I mean the mission, not the movie. ;P

pomita

I was just about to comment that I loved the last line of your review, when I scrolled down and discovered that it's already being bashed. :) Perspectives, I guess. Honestly, the only part of the movie which didn't work for me was the clip at the end, not because I have anything against our PM but simply because the Mars Mission didn't even have anything to do with the current govt - it launched in 2013!

@Pomita yes, perspectives indeed. :)

I am happy that readers go down right till the last line. :D

Akshay Kumar and Other Team Member shows that if we work together and try our best we can achieve anything in life.

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