This Independence Day, two films hit the silver screen in India. While one would make your chest swell with pride, the other, despite being brilliant as a concept, would make you scratch your heads as to what the makers actually wish to portray.
This 15th August, on the occasion of Independence Day, two films released simultaneously – Batla House and Mission Mangal. While Mission Mangal was based on the legendary mission to Mars, successfully completed in the first attempt, Batla House revolves around the police encounter of Indian Mujahideen terrorists, who were hiding in the Batla House area of Jamia Nagar post the 2008 Delhi blasts.
Firstly, lets focus on Mission Mangal. Directed by assistant director to R Balki, i.e. Jagan Shakti, the film’s script has been written by R Balki himself. Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan are in the lead roles, while they are supported by actors like Sharman Joshi, Sonakshi Sinha, Kirti Kulhari, Nitya Menen, Vikram Gokhale, Dalip Tahil, HG Dattatreya etc.
The film is based upon the mission to Mars planet, which was successfully completed by ISRO in its very first attempt. It was not only special because India completed the mission in its first attempt, but also because ISRO’s Mangalyaan mission is hailed as one of the cheapest missions to Mars till date. How does Rakesh Dhawan successfully complete this mission with assistant scientist Tara Shinde and five other junior scientists forms the crux of this story.
The Good, the Bad & The Ugly:
Before going ahead, one must appreciate the director and the scriptwriter for daring to make a movie on this concept. But it is one thing to think about the concept, and another thing to bring it on the silver screen. This was where Mission Mangal missed the mark completely. Here the focus was a bit more on the personal lives of the scientists, and less on the actual mission, which wasn’t correct for a film like this.
Some of the songs were deliberately stuffed in extremely awkward situations. Though there was no flaw in the acting of the principal cast, but Nithya Menen and Kirti Kulhari’s characters weren’t given proper space. For Dilip Tahil’s character, the lesser said the better. Some of the scientific concepts have been simplified to such an extent that even a simple movie like Parmanu looks more sophisticated than the same.
Overall, Mission Mangal won’t bore you, but to many, it would look as it did not do complete justice with the actual mission to Mars. If the writing had been more mature, the movie would’ve worked wonders.
Also, we saw Batla House. Directed by Nikhil Advani, and written by Ritesh Shah, this film stars John Abraham in the lead role, and is supported by actors like Ravi Kishen, Mrunal Thakur, Manish Chaudhary, Rajesh Sharma, Nora Fatehi etc.
This movie is a fictional retelling based on the police encounter of Indian Mujahideen terrorists, which took place on 19 September 2008 at L 18 Apartment in Batla House area of Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, soon after a series of bomb blasts had devastated Delhi. Post the sacrifice of Inspector KK Varma in the film, the media and some opportunistic politicians begin questioning the police instead of backing them, and they left no stone unturned in order to prove this encounter as a fake one. KK Varma’s character is based on the iconic Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma [Ashoka Chakra], who was martyred in the encounter.
How ACP Sanjay Kumar [based on the incharge of Delhi Police Special Cell, DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav], who was involved in this encounter, goes on to prove the innocence of Special Cell, and how he overcomes the ‘guilt’ wrongfully imposed on him by the Indian media, forms the crux of the story. This film has been told from the point of view of DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly:
Nikhil Advani should be applauded for his courage to make a movie on this concept. Though the disclaimer before the movie was a bit awkward, it was in line with the decision of the Delhi High Court. Though most Bollywood films leave no stone unturned in order to bash Hindus in the name of pseudo secularism, this film has stayed far away from it.
The movie hasn’t only raised questions on the motives of pseudo secular journalists and intellectuals, but also targeted the previous UPA government for their indirect patronage to the terrorists in the name of minority appeasement. The way Ritesh Shah has written this screenplay, it will engage the audience for the entire duration of this movie. ‘Batla House’ is one of the best movies of Nikhil Advani after ‘D Day’.
Another person, who deserves a special round of applause apart from Nikhil and Ritesh, is John Abraham. After Parmanu, this is another good project which John has chosen. He has proved that if the script is awesome, and the motive is correct, anything is possible. John has shown his acting chops very well through this film. He was ably supported by Mrunal Thakur, who has risen above stereotypes with this performance. Manish Chaudhary and Ravi Kishen also did justice to their roles, though I feel Ravi Kishen’s role should’ve been expanded a bit further.
However, there were a few flaws in the movie, which prevented ‘Batla House’ from becoming one of the movies released this year. The length of this movie can irritate a few people, and while Nora Fatehi surprised everyone with her acting skills, the item song filmed on her was certainly not what moviegoers like us would’ve expected from a gritty film like this. If we keep aside these two flaws, Batla House is a movie, which serves like a slap on the ego of some pseudo secular liberals. I’d go with 3/5 stars for Mission Mangal and 4/5 stars for Batla House.