As the country seeks to establish itself as a space power, audiences are developing an appetite for the extraterrestrial on the big screen
In 2014, India sent the Mars Orbiter Mission into space, and became the first country to send a satellite to orbit the planet at its first attempt – putting its much richer regional rival China in the shade as it became the first Asian nation to get to the red planet. The project was notable for being led by a team of female scientists; as is India’s second lunar probe, Chandrayaan-2 (from the Sanskrit for “moon craft”), which was launched last month and is due to land on the moon in early September. And as the country establishes itself as a space power, Indians have developed an appetite for sci-fi themes in its cinema.
The patriotic outburst that followed the Mars mission has fuelled the latest example of Indian space cinema: Mission Mangal (Sanskrit for Mars), a fictionalised account of the Orbiter Mission. Starring and produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, it is due for release on 15 August, India’s Independence Day. “I would follow the news about India’s space missions and feel proud of what we were achieving,” says Kumar. “But through Mission Mangal I guess you could say I have an insider’s perspective.”
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