“Mission Raniganj” is a gripping rescue thriller that recounts the heroic efforts of Additional Chief Mining Engineer Jaswant Singh Gill, portrayed by Akshay Kumar, and his team as they undertake the challenging task of rescuing 65 trapped mine workers from a flooded coal mine in Raniganj, West Bengal, in 1989. Gill’s unwavering determination and the obstacles faced during the three-day rescue operation make it a remarkable tale of human bravery, and it stands as one of India’s most courageous rescue missions.
While the film boasts an incredible true story, it’s disheartening to witness director Tinu Suresh Desai resort to clichéd Bollywood tropes. The inclusion of a song at the beginning of the film feels unnecessary, and scenes depicting the chaos and destruction lack the necessary impact. Unlike his protagonist, Desai appears more skilled in handling dialogue than action sequences. He effectively captures the tension that arises when too many people are confined in a tight space, where tempers flare, and compassion prevails, highlighting the unity in adversity.
However, the film’s execution leaves much to be desired. Despite having a talented primary cast, the production design and visual effects departments fall short. Coupled with a screenplay by Vipul K Rawal that could have used more thoughtful development, the result is a film that comes across as silly, tacky, and confusing. While film critics often criticize slow pacing, “Mission Raniganj” rushes through the first half, leaving the audience bewildered as a lot transpires on screen without proper explanation. The real-life operation involved the collaboration of numerous individuals and organizations, but the film simplifies it to a one-man show.
That’s not to say that “Mission Raniganj” lacks redeeming qualities entirely. The film’s second half is where it truly shines with its focused storytelling and action sequences. Less talk and more action prove to be a winning formula as Desai redeems the film, turning it into an engaging thriller, a far cry from what it initially appears to be on paper.
While the film centers on Akshay Kumar’s character, he delivers a standout performance by portraying heroism with understated resolve, devoid of the typical star persona. Parineeti Chopra, who plays his wife, unfortunately, has limited screen time and a minimal role in the film. Supporting actors like Kumud Mishra, Pawan Malhotra, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, and others contribute to the narrative effectively.
Despite some logical inconsistencies, the film maintains its focus on the human tragedy at its core. It resists descending into melodrama while evoking a sense of patriotism. Although it could have been more tightly paced and gripping, “Mission Raniganj” ultimately succeeds in telling a compelling story—a rarity in Bollywood. It’s a testament to human triumph and is likely to strike an emotional chord with the audience.
The film reserves a fair 3/5 rating.