This review has spoilers. So, if you have not watched yet, please come back. Not that it is a murder mystery and I will reveal anything suspenseful. Just a warning for people who do not like to know much about the movie before watching it.
Mission Mangal is a complete entertainer. It has emotions, comedy, patriotism, and knowledge! The film works because it is about achieving a dream by overcoming struggles, with limited resources, and limited money. Something all of us can relate to.
Simplification of facts.
India’s Mars mission is something too technical for a lay man / woman to understand. In the movie, they have given simple examples to explain the concept. I found it nice because otherwise I would not have understood anything. Don’t know how scientists would feel about it. I guess those who wanted a more scientific, technical understanding should watch a documentary.
Portrayal of women
The movie shows us the personal lives of the women and how they are managing their home and work. The characters are shown a little unsure of themselves in the beginning, and even disinterested but later they become dedicated and smart.
I read a book about women in workforce. It was written that women hesitate to take up new responsibilities for which they may not have the skill-set experience. For the same kind of an opportunity, a man who has 30 percent skill-set will project himself to have 70 % skill-set, appear confident and take it up. The woman may have 50 percent skill-set but she will say she has limited experience and may turn it down. So I am not surprised that the women (exept Vidya Balan) were shown to have self-doubt in the beginning. It is not unheard of.
The movie starts with Vidya Balan doing household work and managing her kids. Her maid has not showed up. She is doing everything.
What is wrong in showing reality?
For most of us women, the day starts with household work. Then we get ready and go to work. Is she saying ‘Wow! Chulha Chauka yay! I am a superwoman’! No she is not glorifying it. But she is still doing it. Because she has no choice.
Vidya Balan gets the idea of saving fuel while her cook is frying pooris. She talks about using resources allocated from another project to which Akshay Kumar says that women do not waste anything – “Raat ka khana breakfast mein doosre form mein”. I did not find the remark sexist. Rather it made me smile. I had just reused leftover steamed rice to make schezwan fried rice that day!
At some point Vidya decided to resign from her job, feeling guilty for her past failure and doubtful about future capabilities. At another point, she tells her husband that she loves her job and he better not try to make her feel guilty about neglecting home and kids.
She is not confused. She is real. Sometimes she is confident. Sometimes assertive. And sometimes, sad and ready to give up. These little things made the character human.
Sanjay Kapoor’ character is permanently cribbing. He is always making his wife feel guilty for neglecting her house and kids and giving importance to the job. But the husbands of other two women have been shown as supportive.
The way they are dressed
I have seen women from ISRO in saris. I have seen lawyers wear saris in courts. I have seen doctors wear saris in hospitals. I have seen women wear saris in MNCs. We live in India. What is the surprise about!
A lot of us wear bindi and salwar kamiz / sari to office. With pride. Doesn’t make us anything less. We are proud of the sari.
Why Akshay Kumar is there in the movie
Writers have objected as to why Akshay Kumar was necessary in the movie. Why not just a female team. I did not like this objection. There were men in the original team. Obviously. His character does not take any credit from the women characters. In fact, he does not have any ideas at all!! It is the women who give the ideas. For a commercial movie, stardom matters and his fan following has definitely helped.
Vidya Balan was brilliant. I liked Dilip Tahil too as the NRI NASA snob and Nithya Menon. Kirti Kulhari seemed to be carrying on her role from Pink. No novelty. But the last time I saw her was in Four more shots so this was still way better! Sharman Joshi’s character was too stupid to be believable. Sonakshi Sinha got an opportunity to be the ‘modern’ one here, a change from her other movies. I felt like Tapsee towards the second half of the movie had forgotten that she is supposed to be a timid, traditional, fragile little thing and was acting completely ‘normal’.
In her opening scene, Tapsee accidentally grabs the crotch of the male driver teaching her how to drive. This scene was supposed to be funny. It was gross and I wish they realized this.
Portrayal of religion
I had read posts about how the movie mocks Hindu rituals and astrology. I did not feel so. The ‘Mangal bhari hai’ angle of Sharman Joshi was just a pun. They were trying to be clever and funny. I was not offended. It had context. What did not have any context was the sub-plot of Vidya Balan’s son trying to convert’ something her husband objects to strongly. How was this relevant to the story? Also, Neha Siddiqui not being able to get a house on rent? Why bring unnecessary angles of discrimination which add no value to the plot!
The photos of Late Shri Abdul Kalam in the movie and his story, the photos of the real Mangalyaan team at the end of the movie, Modi ji’s speech and the clapping in the theatre made me feel joy. The last time I felt so was after watching Uri. Before that Airlift.
For this reason, I would give rate this movie a really high rating. Watch it to know what India is capable of. Limited budget. Limited time. But we did it! We made it!