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The Spy Who Loved Me: ‘Mission Majnu’ is a RAW Homage to India’s Foreign Intelligence Agents

The Spy Who Loved Me: ‘Mission Majnu’ is a RAW Homage to India’s Foreign Intelligence Agents

  • It’s a good idea to watch the film on the eve of Indian Republic Day on 26th January. Perhaps, then you will understand why the protagonist Tariq is nicknamed Majnu.

Duniya mein hum hi akele hain jo
Maati ko maa kehte hain
Tum mera dil ho 
Par Bharat ko jaan kehte hain.

Written by Aseem Arrora, Sumit Batheja, Parveez Shaikh; directed by Shantanu Bagchi, and produced by Ronnie Screwvala et al, “Mission Majnu” is a tragic love story of a young, and zealous undercover RAW agent (Research and Analysis Wing, India’s foreign intelligence agency) Amandeep Singh (Sidharth Malhotra) caught in political crosshairs in Rawalpindi. 

The film is set in the 1970s, following the India-Pakistan War. Indira Gandhi lost her parliamentary majority after the unpopular Emergency Rule. Morarji Desai is the new prime minister. He wants to adopt friendlier relations with Pakistan. Across the border, Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq has overthrown Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and declared martial law. Not only that, Zia is racing to build an atom bomb by illegally acquiring uranium. Indian intelligence is working to identify the operation and thwart the covert nuclear weapons test.  

Working as an undercover spy Amandeep/Tariq assumes the role of a tailor’s assistant. He is very convincing in his disguise, Urdu pronunciation and skill set. Not only does he excel in threading a needle, but he is also smitten by the innocent beauty of the young Nasreen (Rashmika Mandanna). They are happy in their small home and soon Nasreen is in a family way. Her father does not like Tariq because he thinks his daughter deserves better. 

Sidharth Malhotra fully embraces the character of a simpleton as Tariq and a highly intuitive agent Amandeep Singh. Under Bagchi’s direction, the plot does not stagnate, and the script gives Malhotra ample opportunity to think, emote, act, and coerce senior citizens, schoolboys, and peons to reveal secrets to him. He seems to blend in with the public. Posing as a plumber, a friend, a hapless goatherd, a Pakistani cop, and a Sardarji, he seems to wing it every time. 

He never blows his cover and even wins the respect of the other RAW colleagues. Kumud Mishra is delightful as always, acting most appropriately in his small but significant role. Even Sharib Hashmi gives a noteworthy performance as Amandeep’s partner. They recognize Tariq’s intensity to unravel the puzzle, and don’t follow the dictum: Cover khatam, aadmi khatam!  

The train sequence from Lahore to Amritsar gets hectic and tense. Now is the time for our RAW agent to think on his feet and literally jump in between, on top of the carriages like James Bond!

The train sequence from Lahore to Amritsar gets hectic and tense. Now is the time for our RAW agent to think on his feet and literally jump in between, on top of the carriages like James Bond! Fighting fiercely and warding off several Pakistani snipers, single-handedly. He even escapes a watery death after plunging into the river from a moving train. All this bravado is only for one purpose: to redeem himself in the eyes of another senior agent ‘Sharma” who constantly ridicules Amandeep for being a traitor’s son. So the three heroes of “Mission Majnu” reach safety on home ground. Pakistan’s cover is blown. Zia-ul-Huq gets a terse warning from Prime Minister Desai instead of a box of sweets. They stop conducting nuclear tests “for the time being.”

Does Zia take this insult lying down? Does the Pakistani army retaliate against the RAW agents? Does the Indian PM recognize these patriots with medals of honor? Do they go back to Pakistan? What happens to Nasreen, her father and her child? For that and to check out the unnecessary attitude of the technician in Delhi who comes to test the sample submitted by Amandeep Singh, I think it’s a good idea to watch the film on the eve of Indian Republic Day on 26th January. Perhaps then you will understand why Tariq is nicknamed Majnu. 

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There are some emotional dialogues like: Even though the whole country hated us, there was a sardarji at the gurudwara who made sure that he did not go to bed hungry. Or Father Joseph who helped him with school and his trainer who made him strong. ”Love is the main force that still unites the country and the basis of Indian Independence.”

There is a patriotic song written by Manoj Muntashir, and sung by Sonu Nigam: Maati ko Maa kehte hain. The lyrics, score and cinematography stitch the script together. The chant of “Bharat Maata ki jai” at a Pakistani airport will bring tears to the eyes of every person who calls India home. I love the fact that Malhotra keeps trying till the last minute to do the “right thing” by his country and his wife. “Tum mera dil ho par Bharat ko jaan kehte hain.” Allah hafiz. 

“Mission Majnu” was released on Netflix on Jan. 20.   


With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM and the Princess Theater.

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