There are dramas and dramas, and then there are some. That fire the night sky like a rocket and traverse new worlds, blazing a trail and igniting the universe with the song of the unheralded and the daring of the audacious.
At last, here’s an Indian show with stellar production values, an astute script and sublime direction without a single false note (okay, not counting one or two). Nuanced and bereft of jingoistic overtones, when I was watching this percipient recreation of the early days of what scripted the Indian nuclear and space foundations, I had to pinch myself at times to feel that it was for real.
Jim Sarbh as the Renaissance man, Bhabha, delivers a performance of a lifetime and how seamless at that, and Ishwak Singh is sincere and extremely credible as the ambidextrous Sarabhai. True nation builders, they were pioneering men, not of straw but of steel, men who dreamt of a country that can calibrate her own destiny. Besides master classes in acting, a beautiful script and consummate direction, what sets Rocket Boys apart is its subject.
Space and nuclear science are meant to be highbrow, and the series also doesn’t trivialise them, but the very deconstruction of the esoteric matters is fraught with such sincerity and clarity that it instructs, informs and entertains in equal measure. Add to that the sheer joy of watching the human sides of these brilliant minds, their pulsing hearts, their frailties, and the story of the giants that strove to lay the foundations of a scientific India warms your insides, infusing it with an orange glow. Like a reactor in full flow. Sarbh and Singh, you reborn rocket boys, you rock!
Regina Cassandra as Mrinalini Sarabhai is a revelation. Saba Azad as Bhabha’s unrequited love interest is peppy and vulnerable. Both class acts. Arjun Radhakrishnan as the young Kalam shows promise in a brief role.
All this is good, even great, but who is Abhay Pannu? A sharpshooter on a dark horse who literally steals the show with immaculate craftsmanship, debutant director Pannu wants ‘Gen Zs and millennials to know about Sarabhai and Bhabha’, but have no doubt that after this superlative double biopic, they would follow him. Like a star!
Nikkhil Advani, you dauntless dreamer, you coruscating sutradhar, and Pannu, you perspicacious writer-director, take a bow. And soar, like a rocket in the sky!
Where to Watch: SonyLiv