Parmanu review: A bang that's not loud enough

Last Updated 17 June 2018, 02:26 IST

Parmanu -- The Story of Pokhran

Hindi (U)

Cast: John Abraham, Boman Irani, Diana Penty, Yogendra Tiku, Darshan Pandya, Vikas Kumar

Director: Abhishek Sharma

Rating: Two and a half stars

Parmanu packs the right amount of patriotism — not to the brim, just enough to evoke goosebumps. But the thrills lie sedimented somewhere in the sand dunes of Pokhran.

John Abraham, the resident hunk, makes an earnest attempt to look nuke-savvy, but the story needs more chops to scratch beneath his macho make. So, the tale of India's nuclear quest gets a superficial paint-over, that may please the powers that be (there is also a Shubh Din track). Everything that happened before the Vajpayee era is given a convenient go-by, as John and Co makes the mission look like the fruit of five men's (and a woman's) labour.

There could have been a sharper recall of events that led to India's first nuclear test preparations in 1995, signs of which were promptly picked up by the US. The mission failed. Parmanu begins here: when civil servant Aswat Raina (John Abraham), disgraced by the Prime Minister's Office, retreats to Mussoorie to lick his wounds.

Three years later, redemption comes in the form of Boman Irani, principal secretary to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. John gets another take at the N-mission. He cobbles together his Team Pandav: an armyman, two scientists, an intelligence expert and a space gazer. All are fighting one villain: the American satellite that pokes its celestial nose into the Pokhran Range and spoils the nuclear party.

The problem with Parmanu is its casting. Some fit well into the fission-fusion world. The others are outright cardboard. The American spy, who has a thing for squeeze balls, is one. The agent from Pakistan's ISI is another. Meanwhile, Diana Penty has more to do with spa than sand. Immaculately turned out, she seems to be plucked out of a salon and planted in the desert.

The film means well. But if something really explodes to life, it's John's deadpan enthusiasm and rehearsed angst that would have done well with a spark of support from the screenplay. The N-drill takes off, but doesn't make a bang that's loud enough.

(Published 25 May 2018, 12:30 IST)

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