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Yours Mine And  Hours, Mission  Raniganj Celebrates The Unassuming Valour Of A True Hero

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Mission  Raniganj

Mission  Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue

Starring Akshay Kumar,Parineeti Chopra, Pavan Malhotra

Directed by Tinu Suresh Desai

Rating: ****

At last, a biopic  about a true hero. If you are as  tired of watching gangsters being glorified on screen as I am,then  here is  a welcome  break. Mission Raniganj(the  appendage  in the title  about ‘Great Bharat’ seems an  afterthought) pushes the timeline  back to 1989 when at the  Raniganj coalfield in West Bengal, a Sikh mining  officer Jaswant Singh Gill rescued  sixty-five  miners after a  mining  accident.

Like the 2015 Spanish film The 33  which vividly recreated the  real events of the 2010 Copiapó mining disaster, in which a group of thirty-three miners were trapped inside the San José Mine in Chile for  sixtynine days, Mission Raniganj  strives  to bring the  palpable immediacy  of  the  disaster to us.

If you have seen Tinu Desai’s earlier Akshay starrer  Rustom you would would know  this director isn’t too  enamoured  of subtlety. He brings to us the crisis at  the colliery  with  all the  resident emotions over-punctuated to a shrieking decibel. If  the film still manages to create a positive  impact, it is because of Akshay Kumar’s subdued performance as the mining  engineer  suddenly thrown into a crisis where multiple lives depend on his split-second decisions.

Director Desai and his expeditious  editor(Aarif  Sheikh) go for the jugular, cutting into the drama with a haste that leaves the narrative  breathless. This, they believe, would keep the audience  on  the edge of their seats. Ironically the  speed is the main culprit here.  Many times I  felt like asking Desai to slow down,take a deep breath and then proceed.A  crisis cannot be highlighted  by a pauseless narration.

The  upstrairs-downstairs storytelling catches  the urgent goings-on both below and above groundlevel .While the authorities and  administration squabble above ground,the trapped miners seem to be in a state of heightened hysteria with Ravi Kissan freaking out so often he seems like  a sitting duck for  a heart attack.

Barring Akshay Kumar everyone overacts liberally.  It is  sad to see  brilliant actors like Pavan Malhotra and Kumud Mishra trembling with an  ostentatious rage at the red-tapism all  around them. The award  for  the most dedicated  hamming  goes to  Dibyendu Bhattacharya(so  in-character  in Applause Entertainment’s  superb series  Undekhi)  here reduced to a caricatural  villainy which culminates in his  being tied to a pillar and  flooged shirtless.

And here we were thinking flaring nostrils had gone  out of  style with bellbottoms!

The  junior artistes playing distressed relatives  of  the tragedy victim all stand around in  newly purchased poverty clothes,  shrieking and  sobbing intermittently. The  best distressed relative  is played by a canine which waits for its  owner to emerge from the  ground after a lengthy  rescue opreration which is  the  mainstay  of  the film.

Aseem Mishra’s  cinematography is outstanding in its pursuit of excellence in the  dingy situation.

For all  its faults Mission Raniganj  holds our attention not allowing us to look away even for a second.  Oh yes, there is Parineeti Chopra with even less screen space with Akshay Kumar than she had in Kesari. As this well-intended  engrossing film tells us, we are a  nation which doesn’t learn from its past mistakes.

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