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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Mission Raniganj relies too much on Akshay Kumar’s star power and fails in its mission

Parineeti Chopra stars as Akshay Kumar’s pregnant wife in this rescue thriller helmed by Rustom director Tinu Suresh Desai

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 07.10.23, 04:22 PM
Akshay Kumar in Mission Raniganj

Akshay Kumar in Mission Raniganj IMDb

Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue tries to recreate the remarkable incident in the Raniganj Colliery in 1989 when a group of miners got trapped underground while mining.

Helmed by Tinu Suresh Desai — who had earlier directed Akshay Kumar in the 2016 film Rustom — Mission Raniganj focuses on the heroic efforts of Jaswant Singh Gill, played by Akshay Kumar, to rescue the trapped workers. Despite the gripping premise and Akshay Kumar’s sincere effort, the film falls short because of its one-dimensional characters and over-the-top tone.

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Set in 1989, Mission Raniganj begins with the arrival of Jaswant Singh Gill as a rescue officer in Raniganj, along with his pregnant wife (Parineeti Chopra). It is a usual day in the coal mining town as workers queue up to get down into the mine for a late-night shift.

A blasting unexpectedly triggers flooding and 71 miners are trapped 350 ft below ground. As senior officials of Coal India are stumped by the magnitude of the tragedy, and families of the trapped miners mount pressure, Jaswant Singh Gill decides to take charge and lead a rescue operation.

However, D. Sen (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), a senior engineer at Coal India, won’t let Gill have his way. Sen wants to take the credit for the rescue mission and comes up with a plan which falls flat at the very inception. As Gill’s alternative strategy gains momentum, Sen keeps posing hurdles in his way.

The trapped miners counting seconds to be rescued is the most compelling part of the film. Panic intensifies as the carbon dioxide level inside the mine increases and the water flooding the pit inches closer to the section where they have taken shelter. As their chances of survival get slimmer, the group of men — portrayed by Ravi Kishan, Sudhir Pandey, Jameel Khan, and Omkar Das Manikpuri — get into constant arguments.

Mission Raniganj’s biggest drawback is its reliance on excessive theatrics. It tends to focus on Akshay Kumar’s star power, following a formulaic pattern seen in his recent films, which includes a wedding song, a brief romantic subplot, a dramatic entry scene, the lone saviour battling against all odds and a heroic ending.

In order to portray Gill as a larger-than-life hero, the characters around him are all portrayed as diminutive figures. Parineeti Chopra as Gill’s wife Nirdosh Kaur has very little screen time. When she does appear on screen, she is portrayed as an embodiment of patience and calm while Gill plods on with his task.

The mine director, played by Kumud Mishra, is always quaking in fear and goes with whatever Gill suggests. Dibyendu Bhattacharya’s D. Sen is a caricature of a corrupt government official. The film resorts to stereotypes to portray Bengali characters and their culture, and the Bengali bashing feels quite out of place and unnecessary in the context of the story.

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