When you see content based on real-life incidents, you will easily realize where the makers have taken creative liberty to enhance the drama quotient. Rocket Boys, the new SonyLIV original, starring Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh as Homi J Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, respectively, is one series where you will be excited till the end despite knowing the fact that some of the elements are dramatized. The main reason for that, in my opinion, was the way the series looked at its leading men as flawed individuals with all sorts of vulnerabilities.
The 8 episode series is a journey from pre-independent India to an Independent India. We have Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha collaborating under the mentorship of CV Raman. And then, with the support of Jawaharlal Nehru, both of them rise as influential names in the scientific space of independent India. Vikram’s efforts to enhance the space research infrastructure in the country and Homi’s attempt to make developments in atomic research always had conflicts and risks. What we see in Rocket Boys is how they tackled all that.
What made it highly compelling was how they kept the characters real and how organic their conversations felt. Often movies and shows that talk about things that happened on a diplomatic level try to spoon-feed the viewer by simplifying the conversations. Created by Nikkhil Advani and directed by Abhay Pannu, Rocket Boys manages to find the right balance. You feel almost like an invisible guy in a room where bright scientific minds are having a conversation. Both Sarabhai and Bhabha were involved in multiple endeavors. The series included almost all aspects of each of those episodes in their personal and professional lives.
The writing of the series deserves a lot of appreciation for including numerous tracks without losing track of things. Even though it is primarily showcased as a friendship story between Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, the series covers many other things. The evolution of India under Nehru’s leadership, the power games in the scientific hemisphere of India, the involvement of the CIA, the personal life of both Sarabhai and Bhabha, and the Goosebumps moment of the story was the entry of APJ Abdul Kalam. There was a level of energy in the way the story was narrated, and I loved how the drama unfolded as parallel conflicts were happening in each character’s life.
Abhay Pannu successfully blends the drama with reality. Even though it isn’t a track that determines the story’s direction, the subplot that stayed with me the most was the love story of Homi J Bhabha. It sort of helps the viewer a lot in understanding the character more deeply. The effort to understand each character similarly makes Rocket Boys a series that goes beyond being a history class. The cinematography with that color scheme looks elegant. The editing keeps things engaging and maintains a certain level of excitement for the story. The background score was brilliant.
Jim Sarbh as the flamboyant Homi Bhabha was the show stealer without a doubt. The series offers him a chance to portray various dimensions of that character, and Sarbh was brilliant. It is interesting how he makes his characters unique despite being offered quirky or eccentric characters every single time. Ishwak Singh, as Vikram Sarabhai, makes sure that innocence and grace are always there in his version of Vikram Sarabhai. One thing that should be appreciated in this series is the casting. Regina Cassandra as Mrinalini Sarabhai, TM Karthik Srinivasan as CV Raman, Rajit Kapoor as Jawaharlal Nehru, Dibyendu Bhattacharya as Raza Mehdi, Arjun Radhakrishnan as APJ Abdul Kalam, etc. are brilliant and excellent choices for these roles. The casting helps the series a lot in achieving a sense of authenticity.
Rocket Boys is a winner by all means. It has great performances, brilliant casting choices, and a making style that blends facts and fiction captivatingly. Without necessarily trying to sound like an educational piece, the series gives us much insight into the beginning days of our scientific development in various sectors. With a possible season 2 that already looks intriguing, Rocket Boys is a highly recommended creation.
Rocket Boys is a winner by all means. It has great performances, brilliant casting choices, and a making style that blends facts and fiction captivatingly.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended