Zee Studios, Kyta Productions and JA Entertainment’s Parmanu – The Story of Pokhran is based on a true story about how India became a nuclear state after covertly building nuclear bombs and testing them in Pokhran desert in Rajasthan in record time and while not letting the world know till finally, the explosions were carried out. The story begins in 1995.
Ashwath Raina (John Abraham) is an IAS officer who feels that India should become a nuclear power but since he is too junior, his seniors poke fun at his idea. However, one of the seniors sees an opportunity to gain brownie points by hijacking Ashwath’s idea and presents it to the prime minister without going through the whole plan. After the PM gives his nod, the plan execution begins in Pokhran (Rajasthan) but since only part of the plan has been taken up for implementation, it hits a roadblock. Worse still, Ashwath is blamed for the faulty plan and suspended from his job. The fact is that the roadblock was not because of a faulty plan but because of the careless execution of the plan without reading Ashwath’s plan in entirety.
Three years later, the new chief secretary to the Prime Minister, Shukla (Boman Irani), appoints Ashwath to head the team which will restart the nuclear work in Pokhran. Taking the code name of Krishna, Ashwath appoints his five Pandavas – five accomplished persons in various fields – Dr. Viraf Wadia (Aditya Hitkari), Major Prem (Vikas Kumar), Dr. Naresh Sinha (Yogendra Tiku), Puru Ranganathan (Ajay Shankar) and Ambalika (Diana Penty) – to help him in making India’s first nuclear bombs. Dr. Viraf Wadia is given the code name of Yudhishtir, Major Prem becomes Bheem, Dr. Naresh Sinha is Arjun, Puru Ranganathan becomes Sehdev, and Ambalika is Nakul. Since the operation is covert, the team can work only during blind spots – when no satellite is crossing India in the skies. Sehdev (Puru Ranganathan) monitors the satellite movements while the others work on the field with workers.
There is a Pakistani spy (Darshan Pandya) in Pokhran, who works in tandem with an American scientist (Mark Bennington). The two soon realise that some serious activity is going on in Pokhran, and the American scientist even informs the lab in the USA about the nuclear experimentation being carried out in Pokhran.
How Krishna (Ashwath Raina) succeeds against all odds and ultimately carries out the first nuclear explosions in India is the crux of the story. It was after these nuclear tests in May 1998 that India came to be known as a nuclear state in the world.
The story is based on true-life incidents and although people are aware of the Pokhran nuclear blasts, not many know of the trying circumstances under which Indian scientists worked to make them possible. Saiwyn Quadros, Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh and Abhishek Sharma have written an interesting story which has a good dose of patriotism and human drama. Since the story is about the honour of India and involves making an ass of the Americans, the audience enjoys it even more. The trio’s screenplay is well-written and moves at such a fast pace that it hardly gives the viewers a chance to think. There are some shortcomings – like, for instance, the five Pandavas don’t get as much scope as one would expect in a film about team work; or the track of the Pakistani spy working with the American scientist is not as strong or forceful as it should’ve been – but they don’t take away from the inherent strength of the drama. The best part of the screenplay is that it keeps you rooting for Krishna and his team. Further, there are such tension-ridden moments in the drama that they offer nail-biting thrill to the audience. The trio’s dialogues are excellent and so crisp that the drama never becomes too verbose or boring.
John Abraham acts very well and looks like a man of complete integrity. Boman Irani is first-rate as Shukla, chief secretary to prime minister. Diana Penty performs ably in the role of Ambalika (Nakul). Anuja Sathe is excellent as Ashwath’s wife. She looks attractive too. Yogendra Tiku is splendid as Dr. Naresh Sinha (Arjun). Aditya Hitkari is endearing as Dr. Viraf Wadia (Yudhishtir). Vikas Kumar makes his presence beautifully felt in the role of Bheem. Ajay Shankar is rather cute in the role of Puru Ranganathan (Sehdev). Darshan Pandya is quite nice as the Pakistani spy and he leaves his mark. Mark Bennington is okay as the American scientist in Pokhran. Master Arush Nand (as Prahlad Raina), Pravina Deshpande (as Ashwath’s mother-in-law), Anil Rastogi (as Ashwath’s father-in-law), and the rest lend decent support.
Abhishek Sharma’s direction is fair. The best part of his narrative style is that it doesn’t give even one dull moment to the viewers and it instils the spirit of patriotism in the audience. However, he could have given more scope to the other team mates and that would’ve made a big difference. Sachin-Jigar’s music does not comprise hit songs but the tunes are rustic and appealing. Lyrics (Sachin Sanghvi and Vayu) are in synch with the mood of the film. Sandeep Chowta’s background music (Sachin-Jigar have scored the background music in the flag-hoisting scene) is lovely. Cinematography by Zubin Mistry, with additional cinematography by Aseem Mishra, is very good. Amar Shetty’s action and stunts are realistic. Production designing (by T.P. Abid and Sandeep S. Ravade) is nice. Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is very sharp. Production values are below the mark.
On the whole, Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran is a fair entertainer which has patriotic flavour and good drama as two major plus points. But lack of promotion is a dampener which will not let the film realise its full potential. Yet, it will prove an earning proposal. Collections will pick up in the weekend due to positive word of mouth.