Parmanu : The Story Of Pokhran
Starring:John Abraham, Boman Irani, Anuja Sathe,Diana Penty
Directed by Abhishek Sharma
Rating: **(2 stars)
If good intentions made good cinema then every propaganda film by Films Division would be a classic. In the absence of a hefty grip and a budget to rev up the key sequences pertaining to the historical nucleur explosions Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran ends up more as a fable of one mans heroism than the saga of a nation that woke up to a nucleur dawn.
The facts are twisted into commercial shapes including a flashpoint button-on-the-fingertip climax where the films editor runs with breathless bravado from pillar to post trying to keep the audiences interest alive.
But all in vain. Parmanu is like a promised havoc that never goes beyond a wound-up whimper. The films opening shows the bureaucrat -hero Ashwat Rana(John Abraham, starchy and imperturbable) grappling with a roomful of bored colleagues who are more interested in the samosas than Ashwats plans to nucleurize Apna Bharat Mahaan.
Its an opening paying a direct homage to Shimit Amins Chak De.
Throughout John Abraham remains in character. Implacably committed to the mission even if it means pissing off his wife (played by Anuja Sathe who was excellent just recently in Blackmail, what happened here???) and even if America gets on the wrong side.
America is imagined with outrageous tackiness.A bunch of Caucasians(probably tourists picked from Gateway Of India) sitting in front obsolete computers monitoring Indias nucleur movements.Thats Uncle Sam watching.
The computers and one antiquated cellphone are just about the sum-total of period references that work in the film. The film gets its Mahabharat sinfully wrong. Firstly,the serial by B R Chopra shown being aired in 1998 when the serial was on Doordarshan until1990. Names of the five Pandavas are used as code names for John and his four colleagues thrown at the vortex of the Pokhran deserts even if it means pissing off the entire government machinery.With one man(Boman Irani) from the PMs office supporting Ashwat Ranas mission Indias nucleur prospects have nothing to fear.
With John Abraham playing the rebellious anti-establishment hero hellbent on doing right no matter what the cost, the film reads more like a Hollywood cops thriller than a faithful chronicle of Indias nucleur makeover in the deserts of Pokhran. While sections of the film get unbearably jingoistic, towards midpoint the plot gets absurdly espionaged.
An immoral spy( who is the films most interesting character) from Pakistan named Sajjan snoops into our heros hotelroom in Pokhran, plants an eavesdropping device and gets Ashwats wife to suspect him of infidelity.
It all seems highly improbable and manipulated.By all means, honour the country with flag-waving films. But at least make sure that the film doesnt prove unworthy of its nationalistic aspirations.
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