Film Review: Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue

Film Review: Mission Raniganj: The Great Bharat Rescue

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Rajesh Sharma, Ravi Kishan, Gaurav Prateek, Pawan Malhotra, Kumud Mishra, Anant Mahadevan, Arif Zakaria, Veerendra Saxena

Director: Tinu Suresh Desai

The story of Jaswant Singh Gill, a skilled engineer and unlikely hero, is finally getting the worldwide attention it deserves for his feat of pulling off the rescue of miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in 1980s India. This true-to-life tale has been brought to the screen by Pooja Entertainment as a thriller that traces the near-impossible rescue mission which found its way into the record books.

Jaswant Singh Gill (Kumar) is an Additional Chief Mining Engineer at Coal India, head and shoulders above his many seniors struggling to strike a balance between the management and powerful workers’ unions in the state of West Bengal. The family man is excitedly looking forward to the birth of his first child with adoring wife Nirdosh (Chopra), who is extremely accommodating of his unwavering commitment to the miners under his charge.

When he chances upon information about 70 miners being trapped by a flood at the Mahabir Colliery in Raniganj, Gill races to the scene of the crisis to offer his training as a rescue officer to the rescue efforts. The panicked and stress-smoking boss at the mine, R.J. Ujjwal (Mishra), is familiar with his friend Gill’s abilities and breathes a huge sigh of relief the moment he steps up with some unconventional solutions.

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There is a certain infectious sense of optimism in the way Gill goes about diligently drafting his rescue plan, drowning out the naysayers convinced that the mission is a lost cause given the extremely hazardous conditions in the flooded mine. It is the sheer determination of Gill, backed up fully by Ujjwal, that overcome some dangerous politicking and shady dealings of other Coal India operatives to finally track down the miners at the highest point of the colliery. But with poisonous carbon dioxide rapidly building up and the distress of the panicked miners finding an outlet in riotous actions, will Gill succeed in accomplishing his complex capsule rescue mission within just 48 hours?

The fact is that the end result of the 70 miners being evacuated alive is documented in history. However, the biggest achievement of the filmmakers is in crafting a near nail-biting thriller, which will have audiences at the edge of their seats despite the knowledge that all will end well.

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Kumar has delivered an impressive under-stated performance and looks rather dapper in his Sikh avatar for this role. Most of the other characters remain on the peripheries, but that feels apt for a cinematic tribute to a real-life giant whose heroic act deserves this long overdue global applause.

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