When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today
~ Epitaph at Kohima WWII Memorial
Recently, I watched Mission Majnu, a movie on Netflix starring Siddharth Malhotra and at the end of the movie; I was reminded of these famous lines. Because while we know about heroics of men who fight the battles on the war field, what we know about very little is the wars waged behind the scenes by men and women whose courage, sacrifice and patriotism remains in obscurity for obvious reasons.
The decade of the 60s and 70s were tumultuous for our nation. In 1971, the independent nation of Bangladesh was created out of the predominantly Bengali speaking East Pakistan province with active assistance from India. In 1974, India carried out its first nuclear tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan. While Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s govt. pledged that India’s objective behind the nuclear testing was for peaceful purpose only, on the western border, smarting still from the humiliation of 1971, Pakistani premier Z.A. Bhutto was determined to make Pakistan a nuclear enable state in response.
It is this historical backdrop that Mission Majnu uses as its launching platform. The film is officially marketed as inspired from real events, and real characters like Mrs. Gandhi and the legendary spymaster R.N. Kao do come alive on screen. Mission Majnu picks up with the Pakistani attempts at performing its own nuclear test and the effort by the Indian espionage network to find out more about the same and derail it before final fruition.
Siddharth Malhotra, after impressing as PVC Capt. Vikram Batra in Shershah, slips naturally into the role of Indian spy Amandeep Singh, living in Pakistan under the secret identity of Tariq Hussain. The movie moves along at breakneck pace as Aman/Tariq and his fellow spies in Pakistan try to unravel the truth behind Pakistan’s nuclear testing. Contemporary political events, like Indira Gandhi losing the parliamentary elections leading to Morarji Desai coming to power and the effects of the same on Indian spy machinery is also blend in well into the script.
A further twist is added in the proceedings by Aman’s background: his father was also in espionage who had betrayed his nation. It places a constant question mark on Aman, a mark that is further deepened by his marriage to Nasreen, a blind Pakistani girl played by Rashmika Mandhanna. Will Aman prove equal to the task, will he clear his family name, will his mission – codenamed “Majnu” – be successful or will he fall to the charms of Nasreen and end up letting his nation down – these questions will keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.
Mission Majnu does well in delivering the thrills and presenting real characters in more or less fair light. However, one justified criticism of the film in my opinion is the simplicity with which Aman / Tariq is able to get access to information is tad over the top. The life of a spy in enemy territory is fraught with far more difficulties and danger than Mission Majnu shows.
In terms of performances, Siddharth Malhotra delivers an effortless act. Rashmika has little to do but veterans like Kumud Mishra and Sharib Hashmi deliver praiseworthy support. The action sequences are well choreographed and add to the thrill.
Watch Mission Majnu as a silent tribute to the men and women who serve this country by staying in the shadows. Not for them the medals and honors and headlines. A deep sense of love for the nation and duty is what drives them. The ending of the film will definitely leave with you a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye, I can guarantee.
Based out of Kolkata, Trinanjan is a market researcher by profession with a keen interest in Indian history. Of particular interest to him is the history of Kolkata and the Bengal region. He loves to write about his passion on his blog and also on social media handles.
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