John Abraham in a still from 'Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran' Photograph:( Others )
The Pokhran test of 1998 is perhaps one of the most iconic incidents of Indian defence. It's something that the Indian scientists, the intelligence, and the army are proud of- and rightfully so. A film based on the historic incident should ideally make for an interesting watch. Afterall, there is so much to learn from the covert operations that made India a nuclear state. There is so much to feel proud of the historic past. But does director Abhishek Sharma's film 'Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran' - based on the incident- induce any such feelings? Not quite.
'Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran' weaves together the story of how India secretly conducted nuclear tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan between May 11 and 13 in 1998. The tests, in the film, are attributed to six individuals. John Abraham plays IAS officer Ashwat Raina, the leader of the pack who puts together a team of intelligence and army officers and scientists to carry out the secret operation. They have limited time in hand, we are told. But with Ashwat breaking into lectures about how nothing comes before motherland, and everything is for the country, the motley group seem to be charged up and fight against the odds.
With dollops of fiction and juvenile depiction of the real incident, 'Parmanu's' narrative dwindles right from the beginning. You almost laugh out loud at the way Abraham's character goes on to explain China and US's nuclear might and why there is a need for India to conduct the said tests in front of some samosa chewing government officials. It also doesn't help that the film is very poorly edited- there are too many loose ends, too many empty spaces between dialogues where the characters are not doing much which slackens the pace to a great extent.
Written by Abhishek Sharma, Sanyukta Shaikh Chawla and Saiwyn Quadras, the film also gives the viewers doses on nationalism and nation-building at regular intervals. Some of the scenes where Abraham (again) propagates how they are building tha nation's future to his unsuspecting teammates are yawn-inducing and do no good to the narrative.
We get the film's intent though. Credit should be given to the makers for choosing a story like this for mainstream cinema. But is that enough to make it an engaging watch?
In the second half, the pace picks up, especially near the climax. The scenes where the scientists and intelligence officer try to cheat the hovering American satellites as they lay the base for the test are quite thrilling.
The sparks are there but they don't add up to an otherwise boring film. It also doesn't help that the scenes are written with very little background research making the total film unintentionally funny.
Abraham, in a role that Akshay Kumar has played in a number of films in the recent past, plays the national hero diligently. His character is loosely based on APJ Abdul Kalam- the architect of the Pokhran tests- and is supposed to be maverick. But Abraham slips every now and then because of a poorly written screenplay. Diana Penty is there only to add a bit glamour to the otherwise all-male team.
So does 'Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran' work ultimately? It's got its heart in the right place- but it somehow overlooks the years of work that a lot of people put in to make the tests successful, ultimately trivialising it with a badly written script which plays to the gallery.