Film: Parmanu: The story of Pokhran
Cast: John Abraham, Anuja Sathe, Diana Penty, Aditya Hitkari, Boman Irani
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Rating: * * ½
Attempting to make a thriller of a largely clandestine effort by India, Abhishek Sharma’s film is a procedural that tries hard to win its thrills through contrivance and stray buffoonery. While based on true events, the story seems to have been constructed out of thin air with no help from scientific sources or the Government. The scripting is largely clueless about the effort and precautions required for dealing with nuclear material and that’s the most glaring and unforgivable part here. A securities expert, Ambalika (played by Diana Penty), who looks disinterested and uninspiring does little to improve matters either.
Detonating nuclear fission and fusion bombs are not child’s play but the way it is represented here, it seems like a sloppy game between army men and spies. In 1998, despite constant surveillance and monitoring by US satellites, India managed to challenge the nuclear hegemony of China in the Asian region by exploding three bombs in Pokhran. An event that came to light in the morning papers many hours after the deed was done. It was said this was a top-secret assignment led by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and even the respective heads of the departments involved were kept out-of-the-loop. Tasks were assigned without any details, to the different groups involved and a timeline was set. The fact that it got accomplished was a miracle in itself. But none of that shows up on screen.
So far as fiction goes, John Abraham’s earnest, family sacrificing, nation-loving, IAS officer cum engineer, Ashwath Raina is credited with putting together the team that was successful in making it all happen. Ashwath is no nuclear expert yet he is the one entrusted with the show. That’s as far as the imagination can go here. Thereafter it’s just a matter of using satellite blind spots to get the set-up explosion ready with some really low-brow spy games thrown in for rudimentary intrigue.
Ashwath’s buffed physique is also of no use when pitted against an inept, lean Pakistani Spy. Lazy writing, inept casting choices and faulty scenario construction put paid to any interest here. The script allows clichés and pointless subplots to fill up the time-scape. The use of documentary footage to derive false legitimacy is not commendable either. Based entirely on rhetoric, this is a partisan effort meant to favour a particular ideology. There’s no balance or factual representation in the telling.
Abhishek Sharma and team don’t bother to dig deep. They appear to be satisfied generating febrile jingoistic fervour through a largely superficial and entirely fake orchestration of events. Pokhran may have been an effort worth immortalising on screen, but this skewed attempt is clearly not the one to bring that about!