Kudos to Alt Balaji’s scheduling team for launching its new space mission series, MOM (Mission Over Mars), at a time when everybody is talking about India’s recent moon mission (Chandrayaan 2). This curiosity should boost numbers, which Alt and most OTT players so badly need.
As was with the above moon mission, where women scientists held the key, here too the story revolves around 4 female characters who are as different as chalk from cheese, but just one common desire of beating the Chinese to Mars binds them together.
Say hello to Sakshi Tanwar as the no-nonsense mission coordinator, Nandita Hariprasad, who also frets about her teenaged son’s love for cricket over engineering. She even clones his phone to keep a tab on his whereabouts (kids, keep your phone safe).
Bengali scientist Moushmi Ghosh (Mona Singh) is looking at redemption for her previous failure (a la Vidya Balan in the similar-themed movie, Mission Mangal). But here she can’t keep her mouth shut and even chides the minister on running the country on mere 25% votes (political slant, ahoy!).
The series also takes a dig at our establishment’s attitude towards science and technology. The age-old relevance issue (floods in Delhi vs going to Mars) is raked up to avoid opening purse strings. Also shown is how political considerations alter time lines.
Was Moushmi’s assertion that her failed mission completed most of it parameters added at the eleventh hour in conjunction with Vikram’s landing failure? She is also fighting a custody battle for her daughter with her fellow scientist husband, Mayank (Purnendu Bhattacharya). Their ego issues make for fun watching. Her line that she does not have time for romance with a colleague was not needed (rather, office romances bloom more under stress).
The dig at the unreliability of Chinese phones, juxtaposing it with the failure of Chinese satellites, makes for smart writing. Yet, we keep buying Chinese goods (food for thought).
Astrology-crazy scientist Neetu Sinha (Nidhi Singh) wants the rocket mission postponed as the launch date is inauspicious. She also did not follow Nithya Menen’s pregnancy template of Mission Mangal, as that would affect her mission. Her point of view that can’t women want both is a question that millions of career-oriented women ask daily.
Last but not the least comes Palomi Ghosh as Megan, the geeky scientist with her plate full of quirks.
Megan lands up on a date with a wrongly buttoned up shirt. She also turns down a nice guy for he does not have a scientific bent of mind. Neetu chides her for going on a hook-up site. Guess scientists are not supposed to be very sexually liberated?
One refreshing change in MOM over most web series is the absence of nudity.
Could the creative have tried to show scientists in hot pants, in an attempt to win eyeballs? On a serious note, the setting was apt for a scientific community.
Director Vinay Waikul makes the story proceed at quick speed, making it apt for binge watching. But sometimes, I think it is a tad too long. No wonder, other issues like pork in the microwave (common veg vs non veg office fight) are raked up.
Web is finally giving female TV actors the meaty complex roles they deserve. Moushmi accepts that she might not be the best mother.
Sakshi is equally good at bringing out the angst of a scientist and mother with elan. So do Nidhi and Palomi. I really liked the latter, as her character was totally unconventional.
The male actors seem to be left out. Is web following the TV template?
Ashish Vidhyarthi was spot on as the encouraging boss, K Murlidharan, who pushes his team to hit. The line about ISRO working for every Indian made me proud.
As for the bad apples, Binayak Mohanti (Chitranjan Tripathi) was more bothered about a vacation than the mission, While big boss Sharad Gokhale (Mohan Joshi) wanted to sabotage the moon mission for commercial gains (he is hardly seen).
We were shown first 3 episodes on which we based our review.
But won’t the fact that it comes close on the heels of Mission Mangal not have a fatigue factor? Web audiences need to be shocked to hold their fleeting attention. This drama, though engaging, has just been seen by millions in cinema houses pan India.
As in the above film, no heavyduty jargon is thrown around. Rather, the shoe-string budget is explained in terms of rupees per kilometer, which anyone can get.
Last but not the least, will failure of the Vikram lander turn off some, as no one likes to be reminded of miss-steps.
IWMBuzz.com credits this effort with 3.5 stars