A secret agent in Pakistan is tasked with finding out if the country is ready to become a nuclear power and effectively becoming a bigger threat to its neighbour, India. Sidharth Malhotra plays the lead, Amandeep Ajitpal Singh, in Mission Majnu. The film says that it is based on a real story and to an extent, it is, but that doesn’t help the film at all.
Set in the 1970s, the film follows India under Prime Minister Morarji Desai. When he comes to power, he decides to take an anti-nuclear power, peace-first agenda but unbeknownst to him, the aforementioned mission continues.
Three Indian men, placed in Pakistan, try to gather intel about a nuclear facility in the country - their methods ranging from wearing a turban as a disguise to linking a western toilet to a mastermind.
Sidharth Malhotra in the lead is convincing neither as a spy nor as a man who purportedly has lived in Pakistan long enough to gain people’s trust.
He has a dark past and a superior who doesn’t trust him but none of these inner conflicts and dilemmas make it to the screen or into his alias Tariq. In action sequences, he shines, but beyond that, there’s little to write home about.
Rashmika Mandanna as Nasreen is held down by the limitations of her character. She has barely any presence in the film and while her acting chops aren’t at their best in this film either, she does her best work through her body language and general emotional range.
There is the typical, ‘We are better than everything than Pakistan’ narrative that is peddled by this film as well but, to its credit, the film’s idea of nationalism and patriotism is more mature than most recent releases.
However, a deeper commentary into how a country is made of its people instead of those in power, and what counts as true loyalty, is missing.
The screenplay by Sumit Batheja, Parveez Shaikh and Aseem Arrora is good when it comes to basic twists but overall, the structuring is so convenient and oftentimes ridiculous that the stakes never rise above a certain level.
The stakes, when it comes to the premise, are clearly high but the film lacks any proper emotional core to hold on to. Comparisons to Raazi could’ve been avoided if Mission Majnu could stand apart in its genre but since that’s not the case, comparisons must happen.
In the Alia Bhatt-starrer Raazi, viewers got a protagonist who was adept at her job but still often landed in danger (because it is a job lined with peril). This doesn’t happen to our ‘Majnu’. He runs on trains and manages to evade bullets even though an entire group of police personnel is shooting right at him. You would expect people tasked with security to have better aim but guess not.
Somehow, people who are supposedly guarding a national secret of a nuclear facility, tattle to random strangers in their house. Nobody is suspicious about Tariq asking multiple people about nuclear power which, to my knowledge, isn’t normal dinner-table talk.
For a mindless watch, Mission Majnu could still be entertaining but as it stands, the film is only reminiscent of other better films. For Malhotra, watch Shershaah. For Mandanna, watch Bheeshma. For a better spy film, watch Raazi and if you want to add macho entertainment to the mix (if that’s your cup-of-tea), watch Mission Impossible.
Mission Majnu is streaming on Netflix.