Onto the next release of the weekend and I have finished watching Mission Majnu, the 2nd Hindi film to have a direct OTT release this week. Now, I was really skeptical about watching this film, particularly because its trailer did not impress me much. It did seem pretty generic and stereotypical with its depiction of a spy. To make matters worse, Mission Majnu did make the same mistake that most Bollywood films are guilty of, which is to incorrectly stereotype people from Pakistan. While I am from India and cannot verify this myself, I was lucky to interact with a few friends from my cinephile group from across the border who happened to validate the same. The ‘Janaabs’ and ‘Aadaabs’ aren’t how people greet one another back there. And so not much was going in favour of the film before venturing into it, now that I have finished watching Mission Majnu, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
Based in the late 1970s, Mission Majnu follows the story of an undercover spy who is on a mission to pass information about the covert nuclear weapons program taking place across the border. The story is absolutely nothing novel, a pretty generic spy thriller which its usual twists and turns. However to the film’s credit, the proceedings are fast-paced and entertaining. The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours does ensure that the drama shall keep you invested throughout. This is not a slow burn like the recent Zee5 series Mukhbir, neither is it well grounded like Raazi or innovative as Baby. Yet, it is entertaining and at times heartfelt despite having major loopholes.
The drama does have an interesting premise, introducing the viewers to the protagonist early on. Now, it did not come as a surprise that the protagonist who was initially introduced as a tailor, ended up being an undercover spy. I mean if the marketing is around the fact that the product is a spy thriller and the protagonist is Sidharth Malhotra, there is a slim chance that you will not be able to guess his profession. The proceedings are generic and extremely predictable, yet the urgency in the drama is always maintained. Make no mistake, there are several sequences which did have glaring loopholes. For instance, the character of Sid does borrow a Nuclear Physics book and does his research sitting in a library. But he is a ‘tailor’ by profession and so what should have been a suspicious act, is simply not tracked by the authorities. Yet, there is a sense of sincerity to the drama which keeps the boat sailing. In between, the love story sub-plot was decently executed too, although superficially so given that it was used as a foreshadow for the climactic sequence.
The proceedings are watchable and entertaining with several nail-biting moments created, even though you are well aware of how things would proceed. I was not in favour of the slight but frequent tonal shifts in the character of Sidharth Malhotra, as it did come across as minorly pretentious. Also, there are a couple of sequences that are far-fetched and a slight drift from its rooted core material. But barring these commercial aspects of the screenplay, my interests were maintained if I did keep logic(and the dialogues that I would get to in a minute) aside while watching the drama.
The events leading up to the final act are interesting and this is where the drama ticks all the right boxes. The drama which did seem middling till that point, suddenly spruces up by changing gears as the agenda then becomes a mode for survival. And this is when the emotions kick in, culminating into an emotional end. The drama was devoid of the chest thumping patriotism(barring some atrocious dialogues) up until the final act that does break the ‘jinx’ and it was something which could have been avoided in an otherwise good final act. So overall, barring some loopholes and its predictability, the screenplay is entertaining, more than what I had anticipated it to be.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues were the major talking point before the film’s release. And that was that one aspect that was so poor that it did stick out like a sore thumb. ‘Janaab’ and ‘Aadaab’ were just so generously used throughout the drama that in two separate scenes, I did count almost 20 and 15 Janaabs! It was so stereotypical that I found myself cringing more than I should have otherwise. Even a few dramatic lines related to nationalism were not needed in this drama.
The music is good, the BGM is alright but both go well with the drama. The cinematography is good, the VFX and fight sequences are decent. Director Shantanu Bagchi does a good job here in maintaining the pace of the drama throughout. What that ensured was that despite the predictability of the drama, it ended up being watchable and entertaining.
The performances are good here. Veterans like Rajit Kapur and Shishir Sharma make their presence felt here with dignified performances. Mir Sarwar as AQ Khan is pretty good. Parmeet Sethi as Kao is sincere and earnest. Sharib Hashmi as Aslam is excellent and fully in his elements here. Kumud Mishra as Raman is wonderfully restrained and does a wonderful job. Rashmika Mandanna as Nasreen is good although her character does get limited scope and the only objective of her character to be blind may have been that she wouldn’t discover that her husband is a spy. Sidharth Malhotra as Amandeep starts off on an iffy note in a scene where he was clearly over-compensating. But as the drama unfolds he does get better. He ends up being decently good here in a role that definitely did play to some of his strengths.
Mission Majnu is an entertaining spy thriller if you can look past a few loopholes and its stereotypical dialogues. I would be subtracting half a star precisely for the poorly written dialogues which did bring the overall film down to an extent. Available on Netflix.