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Old June 3rd, 2018, 08:05 AM
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Ashdoc's movie review---Parmanu ; the story of Pokhran

Parmanu is the story describing how India dramatically declared itself as a full fledged nuclear power on the world stage by testing 5 nuclear bombs in 1998 , surprising the whole world . Eventually India's nuclear weapon status was legitimized by a nuclear deal with the USA , which proves the hindi maxim 'duniya jhukti hai , bas jhukane wala chahiye' which means 'the world will bend for you , if you have someone with the will to make it bend for you' . In this case the 'someone' was India's prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee , and the team of scientists which carried out the tests was led by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam .

The story begins with an IAS officer Ashwat Raina ( John Abraham ) suggesting in a high level government meeting that in response to China testing it's 43rd nuclear bomb , India must respond by testing it's own nuclear bomb . This is in 1995 . Against scepticism by others , this plan is implemented by the government but without Ashwat's involvement . Ashwat had chalked out an elaborate plan to avoid the watch of American satellites , but that is disregarded . So the preparations for testing come to the notice of American satellites in space and America raises a hue and cry about the impending tests , due to which they are aborted . Ashwat is suspended from his job and is forced to retire to the hill station of Mussourie .

But in 1998 a new nationalistic government led by the BJP comes to power , and Ashwat is reassigned to the job of leading a team to test nuclear bombs in Pokhran in the desert state of Rajasthan close to Pakistan . His main contact with the PMO is Himanshu Shukla ( Boman Irani ) who is principal secretary to the PM . Ashwat selects a team of military professionals and scientists who are given code names from the hindu epic Mahabharata .

The biggest challenge in front of the team is to make preparations for the nuclear tests without the americans knowing about them . So they have to work in times when the American satellites are not watching them---known as blind spots . Before the satellites see them , the team and the military personnel assigned to them have to cover their tracks . The preparations go on for several days , so this has to be done repeatedly---a challenging task indeed . Sand storms in the desert create their own problems which have to be dealt with .

The other challenge is to avoid being detected by American and Pakistani spies at Pokhran . Here the director takes the cinematic liberty of making the Pakistani spy interfere in Ashwat's personal life by making his wife ( played by Anuja Sathe ) suspect that he is having an affair with a female member of his team ( played by Diana Penty ) . Needless to say , this is all fiction though it does heighten the entertainment quotient of the film . A totally filmy fight is shown between Ashwat and the Pakistani spy . None of this really happened in real life and is shown for increasing the drama in the film .

The last part of the film is like a race against time . The americans are closing on to the reality through the spies and the satellites are putting an ever increasing watch on the Pokhran test site . As the americans come to realise that a nuclear test is imminent , the Indians have to speedily put into action the mechanism for exploding the bombs . Thus the climax of the film is almost a nail biting thriller . Just before the americans put the stops , India manages to explode nukes that shatter the sands of the uninhabited desert and send shockwaves throughout politico-military establishments across the globe . A new nuclear power has been born....

As the Indian flag flies tall in the aftermath of the tests near the test site and the soldiers stand to salute it , you cannot but feel a sense of pride and thrill of patriotism . The emotional music score does heighten your feelings at this point .

Acting is good by everyone and so is the background music . Songs are good too , though they are mostly in the background . Photography is decent and so are the colours .

The movie will be understood mostly by the educated audience and is not for the masses . It is of course a must see for all nationalists of whom I am one .

Verdict---Good .

Three and a half stars out of five .
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