Mission Mangal was not supposed to be Jagan Shakti's first film with Akshay Kumar. They were supposed to do the official Hindi remake of AR Murugadoss' Kaththi first. The film was titled Ikka. However, Shakti decided to put that project behind when he heard the story of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists who overcame every hurdle for the Mangalyaan mission. Shakti told Mumbai Mirror that he will soon start work on Ikka. The filmmaker said, "But now Ikka will go on the floors very soon. It will resonate with the underprivileged section of the society. With my second directorial, I want to explore action which is presented in a sleek way." He further said that the subject was close to his heart and the film would be an action-packed one. In the original film, Vijay played a guy who fights to protect the farmers' rights from the corporate sector. We cannot wait to see Akshay Kumar in that role.
Jagan Shakti also got help from home for the film. His elder sister, Sujatha Krishna is a scientist at ISRO. She arranged for his meetings with her colleagues for him to get a more detailed view. He says, "She followed protocol to get me in and while she didn’t contribute to the screenplay, I did take some technical help from her while filming." Mission Mangal has an ensemble cast of Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menen, Kirti Kulhari and Sharman Joshi. He says it was the picture of scientists giving a thumbs up to the Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) that got him to think of a film around the event. "The simplicity of the scientists in that iconic image made me realise that the story had the potential for a great human drama," he says.
Indian scientists and their achievements are catching the eye of Indian filmmakers. Even Nikkhil Advani wants to make a film on Dr K Radhakrishnan, the former chairman of ISRO and the brain behind Mangalyaan. Commenting on this, Jagan said, "Our story may be based on a true event, but the characters are fictional. I went into the project thinking I would model the lead characters on one or two people who would have been responsible for the mission, but I discovered that the team was made up of a lot more scientists. We didn’t want to glorify only one set of people, so the personal story of each of the central character is fictionalised." In the film, Akshay Kumar plays the mission director.
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