'Parmanu The Story Of Pokhran', co-produced by and starring John Abraham, was supposed to hit the screens later. Several controversies later, the film has finally got a release after getting just a two week window for promotions. The film narrates the real-life event of the covert operation undertaken by India to build nuclear bombs and testing them in Pokhran, Rajasthan which eventually led to India becoming a nuclear state.
Ashwath Raina (John Abraham) is an IAS officer who believes, in the wake of security threats posed by other countries, India should prepare itself to become a nuclear power. As he is quite young and what he is suggesting is outside the purview of his work, his idea is not considered seriously. Later, a minister asks Ashwath to prepare a plan and if it is approved by the Prime Minister, they will go ahead with his plan. The Prime Minister okays the plan to test the nuclear bombs but it goes wrong. The failure of the test gets a lot of bad press for the country and Ashwath is squarely blamed for it. Ashwath argues that the tests were not conducted according to his plan and the authorities did not even have a look at the floppy disc he had provided. He requests them to conduct another set of tests according to the plan he had chalked out.
Around five years back, John had co-produced 'Madras Caf?', an espionage thriller. It was a well-made film but a certain section of the audience had difficulties in processing the large amount of information the narrative provided them with. 'Parmanu The Story Of Pokhran' is set in a similar space as far as the genre is concerned but is much less darker and the screenplay breaks down the events nicely for the audience to understand each and every detail. The problem is that the narrative gets too simple at times and certain episodes do not seem plausible. The film keeps you at the edge of your seats and succeeds, to a good extent, as a thriller but there certain elements that do not generate the desired impact. The American agency monitoring the spy-satellite activities is shown to be dim-witted, at least in the way they operate. The ease with which the Indian team, led by Ashwath, gets a major hurdle out of the way does not seem very convincing. Despite these blemishes, the film does manage to hold your interest and evokes a sense of pride in your country without taking a jingoistic approach.
Abhishek Sharma, who has made comedies like 'Tere Bin Laden', 'The Shaukeens' and 'Tere Bin Laden 2', treads across a new genre quite comfortably. Along with his co-writers Saiwyn Quadras and Samyukta Chawla Sheikh, he puts together a largely engaging screenplay. Though there are a few loopholes, the script manages to holds the film together till the end. The two songs ("Shubh Din" and "Thaare Vaaste") by Sachin-Jigar have been incorporated nicely in the narrative. The background score (Sandeep Chowta) is appropriately dramatic.
John Abraham gets a meaty role to sink his teeth into but the actor continues to struggle with expressions. In some of the scenes, like the one in which he asks Major Prem (Vikas Kumar) to give them a chance to prove themselves worthy of the army's uniform, his expressionless scene robs the scene of his intense tone. Diana Penty leaves a mark in a brief role. Her character deserved to have more scenes and lines. Boman irani has a small but impactful role. Anuja Sathe is very impressive as Sushma, Ashwath's wife. Vikas Kumar, Yogendra Tiku, Aditya Hitkari and Ajay Shanker are very good as Ashwath's team mates. Darshan Pandya is good as the Pakistani spy.
'Parmanu The Story Of Pokhran' is a taut thriller that invokes a sense of patriotism effectively without resorting to chest-thumping or anything that borders on jingoism.