Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty and Boman Irani
After a terribly failed “physics experiment” in 1974, it is time India resumes nuclear testing, considering Pakistan has sped up construction of a nuclear plant and its growing relations with the US and China. But it’s not that easy as an American satellite is keeping a watchful eye over India’s every move. Aware of what's happening, a young, determined and passionate civil servant Ashwath Raina (played by John Abraham) enters with an A-class plan with hope in his heart that India will become a nuclear state one day, more so because he is a martyred Army officer’s son, who couldn’t get into services himself because of flat feet. All his efforts, however, go in vain when an impatient politician tries to play smart with him which eventually leads to his (Raina) suspension from duty in 1995.
Cut to 1998, India has already been thwarted twice by US spy satellites and intelligence agency, which has also threatened it of repercussions and even international isolation if it continues to conduct nuclear tests. Meanwhile, the new government is formed. Himanshu Shukla (played by Boman Irani), the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, is real keen about knowing what exactly happened three years ago. Predictably, he ends up meeting Raina who is now living a normal life giving tuitions to IAS aspirants. And, it is time for another round. Mission Pokhran comes into action as Raina prepares his team by picking five best officers from the system, including RAW officer Ambalika (Diana Penty).
As we all know, Bollywood has a habit of going overboard, dramatising everything and twisting the truth. Keeping that tradition alive, Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran takes a little too much freedom with the "based on true events" story as director Abhishek Sharma chooses to go Bollywood-ish way by implanting random bits of patriotism in the movie. In particular, the film focuses on Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan and the events leading up to and through the series of nuclear bomb test explosions. Although the film has its moments and is certainly engaging at times, it’s somehow strangely forgettable after a point of time.
Abraham’s Raina is ill-at-ease and weirdly unmotivated mainly due to his “deadpan” facial expressions. Of course, the script, an age-old perspective of overcooked clichés and unconvincing exchanges between the characters, does Abraham no favours. He even remains expressionless amid an anxious action sequence. Oh yeah, he is married too but that doesn’t contribute to the plot either.
Penty, who’s at the center of virtually every scene, too fails to evoke any emotion. She is supposed to be rough and tough but how could she work on a covert operation with her face and hair all decked up every time? Of course, we are expected to just suspend in disbelief, but this was asking for a bit too much. I’m sorry. Irani, on the other hand, does a decent job as Shukla, thanks to his ability to slide into a character easily.
The failure of the film also lies in its very opening sequence which is too shaky and doesn’t offer you ample time to register what just happened. Although the second half makes for an attention-grabbing watch, it fails to leave any lasting impact.
The good part about the movie is that just like the recently released Raazi, Parmanu too doesn’t fall into the usual trappings of bashing Pakistan on screen just to make a few extra bucks at the box office.