Producers: JA Entertainment, Kyta Productions, Zee Studios
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Anuja Sathe
Writers: Abhishek Sharma, Saiwyn Quadras, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh
Actor-producer John Abraham has jumped through a lot of hoops to get his latest film Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran released and his Herculean effort was well worth it. The film, based on the 1998 nuclear test explosions in Pokhran, Rajasthan, has lived up to most expectations, and even surpasses a few of them with a strong script and equally strong execution.
The film begins in 1995, when Ashwat Raina, a patriotic and dedicated IAS Officer, is trying to make some politicians understand the urgency of making India a nuclear state. Let down by the political system, who goof up his original plan, he takes a break for three years until he is approached to revisit the project he had planned earlier.
Getting back in the game, Ashwat forms a team of his Pandavas, who help him achieve the feat of testing nuclear bombs on a tight schedule in Pokhran. Ashwat and his team face many hurdles as they try to work on their mission. How they solve one problem after another to get to the end of the line is what forms the crux of the story.
This film is difficult to slot, genre-wise, as it involves many elements. Director Abhishek Sharma has tried to get the right dose of everything and has largely succeeded. A major plus is how the military and scientific jargon has been simplified to make sure that everyone gets the gist of what is unfolding on screen. And while this is a huge plus, details of the actual nuclear tests are superficial. They leave you wanting more information on the tests and the methods they had used to execute them.
The element of patriotism is present in almost every frame as the central character keeps giving desh-bhakti pep talks. But, surprisingly, the feeling is not so overwhelming that it looks cheesy. Credit goes to the writers, Abhishek Sharma himself, along with Saiwyn Quadras and Sanyunktha Chawla Shaikh, for maintaining the balance and not letting the narrative get too preachy.
Another interesting thing is the thriller element in the film. For an audience who knows what the end result might be as it is a film based on real incidents, to be glued to the screen waiting for what will happen next is an example of how smartly the film has been penned and executed, not only by the director but also by the cast.
And while the drama is fast-paced, the cinematic liberties that are taken are just a little too stretched in order to add that extra thrill. The good thing is the way the cinematic licence is balanced, by the right dose of realism, one experiences going back in time with the actual footage of the incidents happening in the movie.
Interestingly, a dose of subtle humour has been smartly injected into this film. A few situationally funny lines like John Abraham saying, in the year 1998, ‘Yeh mobile bahut mehenga hai aur ismein incoming ka paisa bhi lagta hai’, take you back to the good old days when cell phones were just being introduced to India. Following this path, Sharma has made sure that time and again, the story stays true to its authenticity.
Cinematographer Zubin Mistry catches the rustic locale of Pohkran beautifully while the edit of the film by Rameshwar Bhagat is on point. There are some scenes that are heavy on special effects, when they show the satellite and the explosive climax. The visual effects blend with the storyline and do not look shoddy or out of place. One of the final sequences with the still animation was brilliantly shot.
A major concern in the film is the unnecessary influx of songs. Although, thankfully, there are no tracks to add masala or an item number to commercialise the film, the songs that are there seem a little out of place, given the serious situations they are placed in.
Movies based on real people or incidents have proven to be the flavour of the season once again. And when that flavour has patriotism mixed in, the makers have something solid to base their film on. And Parmanu, being very much a mix of all this and more, is a very good attempt at balancing realism and entertainment.
Performance-wise, John Abraham’s effort clearly shines through and that is commendable. He’s outstanding and gives his best to date. Diana Penty looks good doing action and performs decently in the screen time she has. Anuja Sathe is quite good as Ashwat Raina’s wife. Boman Irani as the PM’s Principal Secretary is a highlight. With amazing acting and funny lines, he provides the right support. And speaking of support, the rest of the cast, Yogendra Tiku, Aditya Hitkari, Vikas Kumar, Ajay Shankar, Darshan Pandya and Mark Bennington, do wonders for the film.
Verdict: Although the film hasn’t taken a flying start, positive word-of-mouth will definitely help its collections grow and take the film into the safe zone at the box office.