Mission Mangal Is Mainly About The Indian Concept Of Jugaad. And We Use This To Go Out Of The World Also
My family has been big on Bollywood movies, since time immemorial. We are the ones who keep a track of all the big movies set to hit the screens, aligning it with our not-so-busy schedules, just to make sure we don’t miss any. And if I was to be really honest, the only thing missing in all this planning is maintaining an excel sheet for all the upcoming movies, and I am sort of surprised we haven’t done that already. So naturally, last week, that was filled with holidays like Eid, Rakhi and Independence day, we did what came naturally to us, booked our tickets for the much hyped – Mission Mangal.
Now with the kind and number of trailers and songs that had already dropped, it felt that we had already seen the entire movie. Or the best parts of it at the least. But we still chose to give this science-drama a benefit of the doubt and settled in for what was promised to be a crackling film about patriotism. And we can’t lie, it did bring out the Indian in us, just not quite in the way we’d hoped it would.
The film, that started with a mission launch, actually allow me to rephrase, a failed mission launch, set the premise of the movie real quick and easy – portraying India as the runt of the litter when it came to science and technology and slowly building the base to advertise it as the greatest. The film progressed to show how Rakesh (Akshay Kumar), one of the most renowned scientists in India failed to deliver on one mission, courtesy Tara (Mission director, Vidya Balan) and was soon replaced by someone from NASA, to then be commissioned for an impossible mission of going to Mars. Only to be later termed possible with the mention of an auto rickshaw going to the mars and integration of the concept of frying pooris. In the ISRO quarters. Surrounded by various types of flammable gases and equipment. Which is where the indian-ness starts to set in.
What follows is a series of events, budget constraints and constant to and fro with the management to get an approval to launch a spacecraft to Mars within a span of 24 months. All of which, honestly reminded me of all the kind of long and pointless conversations I have with the HR and senior management on the daily. The struggle is real guys, and guess ISRO is no different. Except they used a fake phone call with the late and former President of India – Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam to make their case.
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Moving on, after the much begged for approval, we see a talented team of women scientists and a very superstitious Sharman Joshi finally make an appearance in the movie, that had earlier only felt like a biopic of Tara’s character. A quick intro for all, that takes subtle digs at the kind of societal paradox us women live in – from Nithya Menen being pressurised to have kids, to Taapsee Pannu feeling the need to nurse an ailing husband at the cost of her own work, to Kriti Kulkarni finding it difficult to be a Muslim divorcee, the movie banks plays to the gallery when it comes to portrayal of Indian society. Except for Vidya Balan, who is working as a super mom, and a submissive wife to a very angry Sanjay Kapoor in the movie, who can’t get over his son exploring different religions.
Now at this point, the fast pace of the movie had us caught up with the lives of all and we desperately wanted to oscillate back to the track of going to Mars. Except when things actually started moving, their funding was cut in half, but Akshay Kumar insisted they would make the launch possible in 400 crores as opposed to the estimated 800 crores. And honestly, it was as Indian as it gets. My mother, who at this point was nodding her head in enthusiastic agreement beside me, gave me a look that pretty much meant how I must learn to do more in less.
The struggle now, not just being to make the satellite light-weight, but also the movie, which is where Akshay Kumar fits the bill with his impeccable comic timing and curve ball humourous digs. From shifting to cheaper materials and even cutting the cost of one cup of chai, the team of 5 brilliant scientists and two male scientists come up with a satellite made out of plastic waste, wolverine cloth and a lottttt of jugaadu elements that had us all questioning the kind of a cheap-ass satellite we were sending to outer space. And then they say Indians aren’t cheap f**ckers. Yeah right.
The climax of the movie, that by this point in a movie about science is about some song and dance number that throws us off, we finally go back to course and wait for the launch to take place. But like every typical Bollywood movie, it doesn’t happen without a stretched build-up. Gods decide to rain on their parade, quite literally at that, and the launch does not happen until the very last second after a destitute Rakesh has already left the building and mourning in the front seat of a car.
And just as all hope is lost, we see the skies clearing up and the launch of Mangalyaan successfully taking place. After a quick fast-forward of the coming months and seeing the satellite take the anticipated course, we see it go through ups and down to finally fall into the gravitational orbit of Mars and that is when the entire cast and the audience at theatre breaks into a celebration. Finally, India becomes the first nation to get to Mars, ahead of China and all is well that ends well.
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The women scientists get the credit, Akshay Kumar who was anyway just being a popular filler in the movie, offers them the limelight and Sharman Joshi is in the back somewhere. We, on the other hand, are still in our seats, finishing last of our popcorn and just digesting the fact that every Indian inherently works on jugaad. Probably the first time I ever felt proud of a quality that otherwise always made us feel like misers. But okay, I wouldn’t say it was a bad movie at all. It was a true depiction of what and how we are, and honestly speaking, it wasn’t so bad knowing that all these home science skills and jugaadu attitude can really help us scale heights, and Mission Mangal – crores in box office earnings.