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'Mission Raniganj' movie review: Mission, not so accomplished

Updated on: 07 October,2023 07:04 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hiren Kotwani |

'Mission Raniganj' movie review:Despite Desai’s intent and passion to tell the story, it doesn’t seem to have adequately inspired writers Vipul K Rawal and Deepak Kingrani, nor does it show in his own execution

'Mission Raniganj' movie review: Mission, not so accomplished

A still from the film

Movie: Mission Raniganj
U/A: Drama, thriller
Dir: Tinu Suresh Desai 
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Kumud Mishra
Rating: 2.5/5

The film begins with an introduction to coal mining in India under the British Raj and the similarities of the disasters with those in the UK mines before taking us to Raniganj, where the narrative is set. The movie narrates the story of the November 1989 rescue mission of 65 people who were trapped in the mines, led by mining engineer Jaswant Singh Gill. He—an alumnus of IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Dhanbad—was known as Capsule Gill because he came up with the novel idea of using a capsule to pull out the trapped miners, one by one, from the jaws of imminent death.

Gill (played by Akshay Kumar) is a no-nonsense man who goes about his work undeterred by what is happening around him—which is conveyed in his introductory sequence in the movie—as he calmly handles a threatening goon who barges into his office, questioning the sacking of a worker for reporting on duty, drunk.

Director Tinu Suresh Desai shot to fame with the Kumar-starrer Rustom (2016), which was loosely based on the famous State vs Nanavati case of 1959. He had been planning the rescue film since 2017 and had then approached Ajay Devgn to play Gill. However, things didn’t work out between them. Eventually, last year, Kumar came on board to play the legendary mining engineer. Despite Desai’s intent and passion to tell the story, it doesn’t seem to have adequately inspired writers Vipul K Rawal and Deepak Kingrani, nor does it show in his own execution. Considering the real-life incident it is based on, one expected the engrossing human drama to keep you on the edge of your seat. What you get instead are the tried-and-tested tropes, from netas and officials playing politics to undermine their rivals, to trapped miners divided into two groups bickering among themselves while our hero goes about doing what he must do.

As Gill works on putting together a team, including survey expert Tapan Ghosh (Veerendra Saxena) and jugadu Bindal (Pawan Malhotra), the nitty-gritty of the operation, though interesting, seem too convenient.

Kumar portrays Gill with sincerity and restraint, while leading from the front and taking control of the situations. However, there is only so much he can do, given the writing, treatment, and execution. Parineeti Chopra has a few scenes where she delivers as expected. Dibyendu Bhattacharya as the corrupt Sen, the other villain in the story (apart from the mining disaster), is satisfactory. RJ Ujjwal (Kumud Mishra) seems to have got the raw end of the deal as he huffs due to his blood pressure and puffs away on his unending stock of cigarettes for most of the narrative.

Jameel Khan as Pashu, who holds the trapped miners together, Varun Badola as his co-worker Shaligram, and Malhotra play their parts well. Most of the supporting characters, like Bhola (Ravi Kishan) and Behra (Sudhir Pandey), seem to go over the top. Another jarring aspect is Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score. While the intention is to heighten the drama, the loud sound only puts you off. The soundtrack seems forced, particularly the romantic track featuring Kumar and Chopra at the end of the film.

While Mission Raniganj makes passing comments on the Chasnala mining disaster of 1975, it’s miles behind the Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha-starrer Kaala Patthar (1979), which was set against the backdrop of India’s deadliest mining disaster that killed 375 people and still remains a far superior film. Of course, 
that multi-starrer was written by Salim-Javed and made by the late legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra. I wish Desai had made a more fitting tribute to Capsule Gill with the resources he had.

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