Mission Mangal Review (No Spoilers): Akshay, SHUT. UP.

I think this might have been the most unpleasant movie I have ever watched. It was like having wooden stakes driven under my nails for 20 hours. Needless to say, I do not recommend it to you. And if you read my posts regularly, you know that it is a rare thing for me not to encourage you to see a movie, so take it seriously.

You know that scene in the cop film where the craggy experienced cop stumbles upon a horrific crime scene that shocks even him, and then goes home and has a stiff drink and sighs at the horrors of the world? That’s me right now. I’ve seen things. Terrible terrible things. Akshay things.

Image result for mission mangal poster

Does Akshay have some kind of condition where if he stops talking his head will explode? Is there a rare Pavlovian response where as soon as he senses a camera on him, his mouth just opens and starts spouting smug platitudes? Does he have a force-field surrounding him that makes his female co-stars incapable of slapping that smug look off of his face? Or are they just so worn down by the constant dripping water torture of the words words WORDS that they have lost the will to live?

Halfway through this film, post-interval, there is a long section where Akshay does not appear. And suddenly, the whole film is alive!!!! The other characters smile and talk, and move, and do things. The plot rolls into gear. There’s even a song. And then Akshay shows up again and it all grinds back to a halt. There is no plot any more, there is just Akshay being right and the world being wrong. There are no other characters, just puppets in the Akshay Show. And suddenly the songs only happen in the background while Akshay’s big smirking face is in the foreground.

The movie edit, which is so much better, is the woman cleaning and dancing with brooms

I hate this effect, the Akshay Effect. And I can mark the beginning of it, Airlift. I love Airlift and I still think it is a good movie. And it is a good movie because it (subtly) acknowledges the Akshay effect. Akshay’s character is a bully and a blowhard and always has to be the center of attention, and it destroys the people around him. Akshay is only a hero because circumstances force him to change and become humble. But in a larger sense, Airlift was a lightly patriotic slightly true story with a broad range of characters and issue-based plot and Akshay at the center of it. And then came Rustom, and Toilet, and Padman, and with each movie the rest of the plot faded further and further into the background and Akshay and The Flag became more and more the foreground.

Akshay takes over this song, but see the way the original singer is visibly sad about it, and the way his wife is irritated by his behavior? And the way Akshay is slightly drunk and gross feeling? That’s the kind of conscious commentary I miss in his later movies, his character is kind of obnoxious and selfish and forces himself to be the center of things. And that’s a problem, not a virtue.

Toilet was the worst for me before this movie. A script written about a mostly female issue, supposed to be for a female hero, and then Akshay came in and it got rewritten and all of a sudden after 20 minutes of the heroine carrying on her own issue, her husband Akshay swoops in and takes it away from the poor Little Lady to make it his own. But this movie, oh my this movie is so much worse!

There is no way Akshay’s character was this big in the original draft of the script. And no one tried to hide how stupid it was to add him at such a late point. Vidya gets the opening sequence, introducing us to her life and family and so on. Later, Kirti and Taapsee and Nithya and Sonakshi get similar sequences. We know everything about their lives, their motivations, their worries. And that knowledge informs the rest of their characters and the choices they make. You know, the way characters in films are supposed to work. At the mid-point, when Akshay briefly disappears, Vidya takes the leadership role and brings them together into a team. We have these strong individual characters and now we are beginning to see how they all relate to each other. Vidya is written as the lead character who centers the team and has the biggest backstory. The other four women are written as complimentary characters. And then there’s Akshay. No backstory, no motivation, nothing but a Trite Smug Speech machine. He has the lion’s share of the screen time, but he isn’t actually a character! We know nothing about him besides that he is very sure of himself for no visible reason.

Oh right, that’s the other thing. Akshay contributes NOTHING, literally NOTHING to the mission!!!!!! We see each of the other characters (including the two minor male characters) making a vital contribution of some kind, and the whole idea of it is Vidya’s and she saves the day over and over again, but Akshay is supposed to be a “brilliant” scientist and all he contributes is to pat the women on the head and say “good job”. And for that, he gets to be head of the mission. All of this is fictional of course, the scriptwriter can do anything they want, and the scriptwriter couldn’t be bothered to invent someway for Akshay to have actually contributed. Or just figured we would understand that his contribution was being a Person with a Penis, and really isn’t that more than enough to deserve a leadership role? And the lead role in a movie?

Image result for akshay mission mangal
Wait wait, I have it! A rocket is just a big penis, that’s why you need someone with a penis running the whole thing and contributing nothing.
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18 thoughts on “Mission Mangal Review (No Spoilers): Akshay, SHUT. UP.

  1. Why would you go see an Akshay movie? I can’t even remember the last time I saw anything from the Akshay factory. I tried with Toilet but ended up turning it off without finishing it because it was unbearable.

    I seriously cannot understand who is watching these movies but apparently people are for them to be getting made again and again. These Akshay movies are the biggest example of domestic audiences diverging greatly from the overseas audience in recent times. I have zero interest in these movies or in most of the stuff coming out of BW lately. Utterly banal crap – regressive subjects in progressive wrapping paper and dumbed down to infinity.

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    • For all of you! Someone has to see this thing and review it honestly, doesn’t seem like anyone else is doing it.

      You can always drop a tip in the donation jar as a thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t used to! I still like the old-school 90s fun Akshay, just this new serious blowhard type I can’t stand.

      On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 9:14 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Oh sure! Really anything prior to the last 3 years is still fine. He is just very good at changing with the times, he was action comedy in the 90s, romance in the 2000s, and now is all soft patriotism.

          On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 10:52 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I never had big expectations and wasn’t surprised when I saw bad reviews today on twitter, but when I read there is Modi voice in the end I thought: OMG I imagine what kind of patriotic marsh it is! I won’t watch it for sure and thank you for your dedication. Now you deserve something good and sweet – Thanneer Mathan Dinangal or Parey Hut Love.

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    • I agree! I am thinking a PHL and TMD double-bill on Sunday. Also, I’m getting a facial tomorrow and am very excited (finally scheduled early enough that I could get in at the cheap rate at the school. Hopefully the poor student doesn’t mess up my face).

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      • The first reviews I saw were bad, but today I saw that there are a lot of “critics” who gave it 4 and more stars! I’m shocked. Forget Taran Adarsh, he gaves 4 stars to every shit but I’m surprised so many other people think it’s good.

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        • what bothers me is, I actually read Rahul Desai’s review and (for once) it is extremely well-written and makes good points. He never compares the film to an American film, he doesn’t spend 1/3rd of the time just summarizing the plot, he knowledgeably digs in to the background of the director, it’s great. But he gives the same lame superficial bad reviews to every film so this actually legitimate bad review doesn’t stand our as something special, worthy of attention.

          On Sat, Aug 17, 2019 at 2:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Reading your comments about Akshay taking all the spotlight reminds me of Naam Shabana!

    Here’s the girl, new recruit, strong and capable of taking down her opponents and also being assigned to take down the most difficult man even though she’s new and when she’s almost done with her assignment, Akshay appears out of nowhere to “save her” from the whole situation. It was okay the first time but gets so frustrating when it’s repeated like why bother assigning her if he can do the job in the first place! I think I might be feeling the same if and when I watch Mission Mangal?

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    • Yeah, he has a lot of moments of smug “congrats, you got the right answer that I knew all along but somehow wasn’t telling you”. Urgh, Naam Shabana was so frustrating!

      On Sun, Aug 18, 2019 at 10:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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