Mission Majnu (2023) Review!!

Synopsis – The untold story of India’s most audacious and daring covert operation in the heart of Pakistan.

My Take – By well proving his patriotic mettle in the career-altering blockbuster Shershaah (2021), Sidharth Malhotra is once again back on the front lines, selling yet another patriotic chapter of Indian history, filled with a roller-coaster of emotions.

Set in 70s in the wake of India’s Pokhran Nuclear test, the Smiling Buddha, this latest thriller, directed by Shantanu Bagchi and written by Parveez Sheikh, Aseem Arora and Sumit Batheja, aims to appreciate the sacrifices the unsung undercover Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agents make in the line of duty, but with a love-story at the center to appeal to the masses.

Focusing on a particular intelligence agent who managed to strike the right balance between his duty to his country, and his true love and care for his wife and unborn child, despite the fact that it was only meant to be his cover, the Netflix release manages to have its heart in the right place. It is also well-balanced in its treatment as does not resort to jingoistic chest-beating in the name of patriotism and portrays things in a matter-of-fact way that is engaging and enjoyable at the same time.

However, despite being fast paced without a boring moment in the proceedings, the plot sadly also lacks the certain edge-of-the-seat thrill and spark required to establish its most intimate stakes. Sure, the film is constantly entertaining, but with films like Raazi (2018) already setting a benchmark for similar themed films, this one offers little new, especially with its convenient writing failing to ignite the sense of amazement it set out to achieve.

Set in 1970s, the story follows Tariq Hussain (Sidharth Malhotra), a young tailor in Pakistan who seems to be struggling to make ends meet at his current job, and due to a reference from a local mosque, lands a job at a tailoring shop that works closely with the army. It is same factory where he meets, falls in love and gets married to Nasreen (Rashmika Mandanna), the blind niece of the owner of the tailoring shop.

But, unknown to Nasreen and her family, Tariq is actually an undercover RAW agent originally named Amandeep Singh. Whose reputation back in India is tainted due to his father being branded a traitor. However, his undercover life gets more precarious when he is handed over a covert operation ‘Mission Majnu’, which requires him to expose Pakistan’s secret illegal nuclear program, which they started in retaliation to India’s first nuclear test at Pokharan.

With the threat of an unstable democracy possessing a dirty bomb looming over his country, Tariq, with the help of his fellow accomplices Maulvi Saab (Kumud Mishra) and Aslam Usmaniya (Sharib Hashmi), must do whatever possible to gather physical evidence of Pakistan’s secret attempt to carry out a nuclear test and expose their hypocrisy to the world.

Without a doubt, director Bagchi helms the story with aplomb and keeps it fast-paced throughout. He also manages to keep us on the edge of the seat on many occasions when Tariq’s cover seems close to being blown. The milieu of 1970s Pakistan is also created appropriately.

The film’s best moments come when it is focused on the mission in hand, narrating a fictional story of how India managed to fool Pakistan on its own soil and pour water over their plans to be a nuclear power. Even when it strays away and breaks into unnecessary songs or peripheral characters that have very little to do with the actual plot, it never loses focus and keeps things interesting by communicating the audacity of the task at hand.

Nevertheless, despite being touted to be based on true events, the film features several sequences that beg major suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. Mainly as the courageous story of a spy who lost his life on duty has been told in an overly simplistic manner. Throughout, Tariq gathers information quite easily, and some of the clues and how easily he’s rescued from dangerous situations make things seem too convenient.

As a result, the efforts taken and challenges faced by a real-life spy don’t get a chance to shine. Even, the politics of the era come across as a bit odd and overly-dramatized, and the dialogue are a bit over-the-top, serving as a sort of reminder to not take anything seriously either.

Performance wise, Sidharth Malhotra does justice to his role. He maintains the charm with his comic timing and manages to be earnest and persuasive in the serious bits, while he’s a treat to watch in the action scenes. It does push him into a new space, something that we will hopefully get to see more of in future roles. Rashmika Mandanna is alright and doesn’t have much to do apart from try to strike up some chemistry with her onscreen husband.

Kumud Mishra, Sharib Hashmi and Zakir Hussain also bring in noteworthy performances and lend terrific support to the narrative. In other roles, Parmeet Sethi is effective as always and Ashwath Bhatt deserves special mention for his portrayal as General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. On the whole, ‘Mission Majnu’ is a modestly enjoyable spy thriller that never quite manages to rise above its familiarity.

Directed –

Starring – Sidharth Malhotra, Rashmika Mandanna, Kumud Mishra

Rated – TVMA

Run Time – 129 minutes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.