Mission Raniganj, a gripping rescue thriller, takes us back to the year 1989 in Raniganj, West Bengal. It vividly recounts the remarkable story of Additional Chief Mining Engineer Jaswant Singh Gill, portrayed with finesse by Akshay Kumar, and his dedicated team as they embark on a mission to rescue 65 mine workers trapped in a flooded coal mine. What unfolds is a heart-wrenching yet inspiring narrative of human triumph against insurmountable odds.
The film’s plot, rooted in reality, is undeniably compelling. However, director Tinu Suresh Desai occasionally succumbs to the clichés often found in Hindi cinema. The unnecessary insertion of a song at the film’s outset and scenes portraying disorder and destruction lack the dramatic impact needed to engage the audience fully. Unlike his protagonist, Desai excels in dialogue but falls short in action sequences. Nevertheless, he adeptly captures the tension and dynamics that arise when a multitude of individuals is confined to a limited space, showcasing the interplay between tempers and compassion that defines such dire situations.
Where Desai’s execution falters is puzzling. Despite a talented primary cast, the film suffers from weaknesses in the production design and visual effects departments. This, combined with a screenplay by Vipul K Rawal that warranted deeper thought, results in a film that often feels nonsensical and tacky. While complaints about slow pacing are common in film criticism, Mission Raniganj swings to the opposite extreme, hurtling through the intricate details of the mining operation at a breakneck speed, leaving the audience bewildered. The complexity of the mission, which involved coordination between numerous entities within Coal India and the Indian government, is oversimplified as the film places the entire responsibility on one man.
However, the film does have redeeming qualities, particularly in its second half. Here, the narrative gains momentum, focusing more on action and less on dialogue. This shift in approach salvages the film, transforming it into a taut and engaging thriller from what could have been a documentary-like account.
Mission Raniganj, despite its singular focus on Gill’s heroism, does acknowledge the contributions of other key players. Kumud Mishra delivers a convincing performance as the committed senior mining officer, while Pawan Malhotra shines as T P Bindal, a resourceful character with a welding workshop. Dibyendu Bhattacharya effectively portrays the cantankerous mining officer, adding depth to the internal politics within the rescue mission.
Akshay Kumar shoulders the film’s weight with finesse, offering a restrained yet powerful portrayal of Gill. His performance is devoid of the typical starry glamour, showcasing his versatility as an actor. Unfortunately, Parineeti Chopra, in the role of Gill’s wife, is given limited screen time and minimal impact on the plot. The supporting cast, including Ravi Kishen, Inaamulhaq, and Jameel Khan, delivers respectable performances as the trapped miners.
While Mission Raniganj does have its logical inconsistencies, it remains grounded in the human tragedy at its core. It refrains from descending into melodrama, opting instead to emphasize the power of resilience and determination. Though it could have been tighter and more gripping, the film ultimately succeeds in conveying a story that is often overshadowed in Bollywood.
In conclusion, Mission Raniganj is a tale of human triumph artfully narrated, showcasing the resilience and courage of individuals in the face of adversity. Despite its shortcomings, it manages to strike an emotional chord with the audience, reminding us of the power of determination and teamwork in the most challenging circumstances.