Story : In 1995, Ashwath Raina (John Abraham) an IAS officer, suggests that India conduct its own set of nuclear tests to stay ahead in the nuclear race with China and Pakistan. After the initial test fails under pressure from America, Raina gets a second chance in 1998 under the new reign of then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Review : ‘Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran’ is exactly what the title suggests. It’s a part fiction, part fact build up to the Pokhran II tests in 1998, after which India was recognised as a nuclear power on the global stage. While it is inspired by this real-life event, it’s story doesn’t follow India’s nuclear program to the T. It takes a few, cinematic liberties, in the way our scientific community and armed forces beat the American intelligence and surveillance systems to successfully test three nuclear bombs in the desert of Pokhran, Rajasthan. It is not an authentic recreation of history, but ‘Parmanu’ is a fairly entertaining look at a story that evokes the right sense of patriotism and national pride without being jingoistic.
The story here is a bit far-fetched, what with John Abraham’s motley crew of scientists and army personnel, executing the entire nuclear program within a few days. But the taut execution, editing and screenplay help keep the suspension of disbelief to a bare minimum. The way India’s nuclear team outwits the American and Pakistani agents is an entertaining experience. Along the way, Anuja Sathe, playing John’s wife and Boman Irani, playing the Secretary to the Indian PM, bring in the right amount of drama and a small dose of comedy. With ticking clocks, racing surveillance satellites and an escalating sense of tension, ‘Parmanu’ does manage to engage the viewer. The use of CGI is good too, especially during sequences of outer space and the final nuclear explosions. The movie also does well to use real-life footage of then heads of state from India, Pakistan and US to create a political atmosphere.
The first half of director Abhishek Sharma’s film takes a little too much time to set up. With a little more attention to detail, especially with the track of the American intelligence, ‘Parmanu’ would have been a much better watch. Thankfully it doesn’t resort to Pakistan bashing even as an ISI agent resorts to some villainy. John Abraham leads the film from the word go and is literally the captain of the mission and the movie. Diana Penty is good too, along with all the supporting actors who form the team of Indian scientists and soldiers.
What ‘Parmanu’ lacks in detail and authenticity, it makes up with emotions and a sense of national pride. The narrative isn’t explosive but it does have the dramatic moments to keep the viewer engaged. Thrills, suspense, drama, a little bit of humour, as well as a solid comment on India’s soldiers – this movie, largely has all the tricks to please even a discerning audience.