Mangalyaan was not as female centric as Mission Mangal would have you believe

  • Mission Mangal is an upcoming Bollywood movie based on India’s mission to Mars — Mangalyaan.
  • The film is being celebrated for having a female centric cast but that actual mission was not dominated by female scientists.
  • The movie’s message is also coming off a little skewed with Akshay Kumar getting more space on the posters and the movie’s teaser highlighting makeup, sindoor and mangalsutras.
Mission Mangal, an upcoming Bollywood movie based on India’s mission to Mars, is attempting to showcase Mangalyaan as accurately as possible — including the people who were a part of the mission.

Cast of <em>Mission Mangal</em>Akshay Kumar/Facebook

The movie starring Akshay Kumar as the lead has a predominantly female star cast including Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Nithya Menon is set to release on August 15 — India's Independance Day and the the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) 50th anniversary.


Mission Mangal is poised to showcase the role that women had to play in the mission’s success.

Only a cloak of feminism

While it’s true that women had a lot of key contributions to Mangalyaan, the mission wasn’t as dominated by women as Mission Mangal’s trailer would have you believe. At the time of the launch, the control room had as many as 14 senior male scientists present and only 3 female scientists.


The photo of women celebrating the Mangalyaan launch that’s recently been making the rounds is of the administrative staff, as clarified by ISRO, and not of female scientists at the helm of the mission.

Only 27% of the key executive positions in the mission to Mars were held by female scientists while Mission Mangal’s trailer only shows one senior male scientist on a team dominated by women.

Some people are calling out Kumar for using feminism as a ploy to sell more tickets to his movies rather than actually tell the story for what it was.


Mission Mangal belongs to the ladies

When the movie’s poster was launched it faced some criticism for giving Kumar a bigger display and then female actors.

Rebuffing any misconceptions, Kumar told TOI, “This film belongs to these ladies and it will always belong to them.”

But, soon after, the actor stirred another controversy tweeted a poem dedicated to women scientists that spoke mostly of makeup, bracelets and their hair touching the sky.

The teaser in the tweet highlights women being ‘determined’, ‘fearless’ and ‘inspiring’ but speaks of attributes that define Hindu married woman like sindoor and mangalsutra.


Twitter users have pointed out that it’s all too common to see Bollywood — even Hollywood for that matter — using feminism as nothing more than a marketing tool to inadvertently serve the patriarchal interests of the film industry.

But others states that the problem could lie with the audience that needs to be sold a movie that has a strong male lead because of fears that an entirely female led cast might bomb at the box office.

See also:
The truth of ISRO's Mangalyaan which Akshay Kumar's Mission Mangal could miss