Hindi Film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, is amongst world’s top movie industries. It produces a very large number movies every year, and some of them remain the talk of the town for many years. While, a large number of movies are made with the commercial aspects, i.e. just keeping the box office as the inspiring factor; some makers go ahead and produce the movies exploring a real issue faced by real people, such movies are categorized as art movies. There is a specific set of viewers for both these genre. There is however a third genre, where the movies are made in way that they explore something with a substance in an interesting manner, possibly falling in between both the genre referred above.
I was very curious to watch Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, the latest movie by John Abraham. The main reason, of course, is to revisit the memories of the famous nuclear test India (that is Bharat) has performed in Pokhran. The mission was a milestone in many aspects. It didn’t only declare India as a nuclear power and a strong country. And, to keep the enemies at the bay, you need to prove your strength. The incident resulted into many political, geopolitical and economical consequences, and India conquered them all to become what it is today.
|Movie||:||Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran|
|Produced by||:||JA Entertainment, Zee Studios, KYTA Production|
|Written by||:||Saiwyn Quadras, Sanyuktha Chawla Sheikh, Abhishek Sharma|
Songs: Sachin–Jigar, Jeet Gannguli
Background Score: Sandeep Chowta
|Editor||:||Rameshwar S. Bhagat|
|Cinematography||:||Aseem Mishra, Zubin Mistry|
|Production Company||:||Zee Studios, JA Entertainment|
|Distributed by||:||Pooja Entertainment|
|Release Dates||:||25 May 2018|
|Starring||:||John Abraham (Ashwat Raina), Diana Penty (Capt. Ambalika Bandopadhyay), Boman Irani (Himanshu Shukla), Aditya Hitkari (Dr. Viraf Wadia), Vikas Kumar (Major Prem), Yogendra Tiku (Dr. Naresh Sinha), Ajay Shankar (Puru Ranganathan), Anuja Sathe (Sushma Raina), Darshan Pandya (Pakistani Spy), Zachary Coffin (Stephen), Mark Bennington (Daniel), Satinder Singh Gahlot (Suresh Yadav), and others…|
There are no two thoughts on the fact that this mission made many countries to see India with “respect”. The mission is also referred as one of the most covert operation as the mission-team was able to keep this operation “a secret” till its execution. And, deceiving the satellites of USA, which has remarkable zooming ability (they are so good that they can zoom and check time in the hand of a person stand at a geolocation under the focus area of the satellite camera), is one of the toughest jobs.
What could have been the possible story(ies) behind it? Was it successful on the very first attempt? What hurdles the team has the conquer? How could have the things were planned and executed? To answer all these questions, the makers came up with a fictional story where a lot of real footages are used in a way that it look convincing. We must say that, John Abraham might have his limitations as an actor and may have done some of the movies which you like to forget; but, as a producer he came up with what we call “movies with a substance”. This is another such movie.
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There are actors who are the generous most in their appearances in films and often manage to represent the same in the real life also. In the name of nationalism they act in many good movies and then invest their wealth in the other countries by accepting the citizenship of the same. John is definitely one of actors who shows his genuineness and intentions to do something good, something meaningful with his movies, and comes with such movies. In that regards, the movie is genuine and needs to be watched.
Let us take a bird’s eye view to the plot of the movie, as talking in very detail will contain spoilers and I want to avoid them as much as possible. In addition, the mission referred was executed and hence the details (at least, the climax) is known to all, so if too much of story is told while the end is known, can affect the viewing experience quite impact-fully.
Ashwat Raina is an IAS officer who took pride in his father’s service to the country . He also wanted to join Indian Armed Forces, but, due to his flat-foot, wasn’t able to do so. But, he is in the position where he could do a lot for his country. After analyzing the technological advancements the world is moving forward with, especially in war technologies; he thought it would be foolish to ignore it anymore. He came up with a plan for nuclear explosion. It could solve country’s problem of energy along with making it a nuclear powered nation. And, when you are strong enough, no one dare challenge you. Rather than fighting war, keeping the enemies in a state where they cannot think taking such actions, would be a better choice.
He presents the plan to a cabinet where the things are discussed in non-serious manner. Eventually, somehow he was allowed to bring in a summarized plan which can be presented to the prime minister of India. Ashwat does it be the political advisers to the PM doesn’t allow him to interact with PM directly. They then decided to execute the plan and not even formally informed Ashwat about it! They wanted to take credit of the entire plan. But, the execution is always the key-point, they know nothing about the important aspects of the same. And the satellites of USA captured the preparations of a massive nuclear test undergoing in Pokhran. India, immediately has to surrender to the political pressure from world and the plan was cancelled!
Now, the politicians need a scapegoat and they have declared Ashwat irresponsible and a reason for the embarrassment for the country! He was suspended!
How Ashwat’s life is tangled upside down since this incident, and how eventually new government decided to execute the things, based on the opinion of Mr. Shukla, and how the things move ahead from that point, is the rest of the story.
Writing is the most essential attribute for any media, be it a movie, a play or a TV Serial episode or something similar. While the canvas of the theme of the movie is historical, if the makers would decide to go with 100% accuracy and authenticity, I personally think it would not have been possible. Though, the incident is known to the worled since the day it was officially declared, there are many aspects of the same which remain top secret. Remember, the official details about many things Shri R. N. Kao did and penned down about RAW will be published after many years. There is a reason why the covert operations are called so. And, if the makers went ahead to make a documentary than the arena of the film could have been different. That’s why I’ve categorized the film as a “historical fiction” and the writers did a great job writing the same. It would not be easy to balance between history and fiction, especially when it belongs to the comparatively recent past. In addition to the script, the dialogs are quite in sync also. There comes a point when a character says that “You don’t need a uniform to serve the country“, the theme of the nationalism is at the peak throughout.
I like the way the characters are built. Some of the viewer may find the initial segment a little slower, I personally liked it though. Actually, none of the scene fall in the category of “it could have been edited out”. While some viewers may find that the family life of Ashwat could have been less explored, actually it is the part of the life of the protagonist. When something good or bad happens to you, you and your loved ones both experience the consequences. With the professional life, the personal life also get altered.
I like the way the realistic picturization of the family life of Ashwat is portrayed. The way her wife asks their parents to not to utter a word which can hurt suspended Ashwat’s honour and pride, or the way she stand by her as a supportive breadwinner, the way her frustration comes out, and the way Ashwat keeps his calm and spread his smile to his son,.. nothing of this is avoidable while watching it.
The way the “caught red handed” episode between Ashwat, his wife and Nakul is filmed, is quite interesting too. While the scene is an emotional and sad one, you will surely see smiles and laughters by viewers sitting in the theatre.
The way the spies of Pakistan and USA planted in Jaisalmer is shown is something not to miss. Actually, the makers paid attention to smaller details like every time you see the spies of Pakistan and USA eating out, the Pakistani spy asks for extra onions, and it has a significance too.
So, we can say that wherever the accuracy is seen compromised and details are portrayed wrongly, you can assume that it is done deliberately, to make it a fiction. The real footage of those days, is weaved quite interestingly in the story, and it gives it quite authenticity as well.
Also, the scene where Ashwat is teaching the IAS aspirants is worth watching. It explores the mindset of majority of people seeking government job quite realistically. At the same time, the teacher’s attitude here is worth watching as well.
While there are more attributes/scenes/detail is there to talk about, let us move our focus to the acting and other departments to avoid spoilers.
John Abraham is completely in sync with his character. Though, his frame look a little bigger for the role of IAS officer he is playing, his little grown belly adjusts the things. And for the major part of the movie, he is in the field, so it goes fine with him. Well, there are scenes where you can feel that he could have done it better, but he underplayed the things where needed nicely. And, he remains honest throughout to his job. Diana has a comparatively smaller role and she is not playing a traditional Bollywood heroine here, she is effective in her work and makes her presence felt. She is good at acting and that is the only attribute an actor requires to have. Her frame looks quite fragile for the character she is playing, however her introductory scene makes her believable in the role.
Anuja Sathe is natural and convincing in her role as Sushma Raina. She is a brilliant talent to watch out for. Boman Irani is a fantastic actor and he is in full form here. Darshan Pandya (Pakistani Spy), Zachary Coffin (Stephen), Mark Bennington (Daniel) are worth to watch, they are convincing in their roles. I also like the acting of Aditya Hitkari as Dr. Viraf Wadia, Vikas Kumar as Major Prem, Yogendra Tiku as Dr. Naresh Sinha, Ajay Shankar as Puru Ranganathan. While the reference character for Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam seems deliberately avoided, one character will remind you the appearance of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
There is no place for traditional Bollywood movie songs in this movie, but there comes some fantastic songs playing in the background, and they are in sync with the story. The background music is of first rate.
The locations are chosen quite nicely and along with the casting director, the team responsible for sets and locations deserves a special appreciation. Jaisalmer is not explored so authentically in any other movie (except in Nanhe Jaisalmer). The wardrobe and other elements goes fine with the move. The cinematography, camera work and editing is upto the mark.
Overall a nice historical fiction which you may find a little slower in the earlier part but moves fine that point forward. A movie worth watching, without a doubt.
Over To You:
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Great review…awesome visuals