Rocket Boys 2 is all about making dreams come true from season 1, the beginning of a rocky political era and new obstacles that the two leading scientists face in this journey of making India a powerful nation.
We live in an era where there just could not be a better time for content based on true stories to flourish and gain the audience’s attention. Which is why last year the world of OTT gave us one of the best Hindi series we’ve laid our eyes on, Rocket Boys which is based on the real lives of great scientific minds Dr. Homi Bhabha and Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and their quest to launch India’s first nuclear and space programmes. Creators Abhay Pannu and Nikhil Advani have done a fantastic job at making the dry subject of science, and its rocket and nuclear physics, look so interesting to people like me who start yawning at the thought of talking about the subject. But Rocket Boys 2 makes you feel conflicted about who to root for as the two science besties don’t see eye to eye with each other for most of the season. Things become darker but that’s also because so much was at stake and there was no room for error.
There’s Homi Bhabha (Jim Sarbh) on one hand whose goal is to make his own reactor so India won’t be obligated to give any explanations to the Americans about why we’re really making a nuclear bomb. In the very first episode, you see him legit make an ad for the nuclear reactor to reassure the Americans they have nothing to worry. While he looked charming as hell doing that but it was still not good enough to convince them. So his usual nonchalant self says ‘Americans be damned’ and decides to take matters into his own hands. But damning the Americans is equally proportional to NASA pulling out on Vikram’s (Ishwak Singh) deal to television broadcasting all through the country via satellites. So this is where the clash of the titans begin. Either Homi gets his bomb or Vikram gets his rocket but of course the two are each other’s numero uno when things get tough.
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Simultaneously, the death of our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, brings in the question of who will be a suitable candidate to succeed him and keep his legacy alive. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and the crown eventually does land on Pandit Ji’s daughter Indira Gandhi (Charu Shankar) after Laal Bahadur Shastri’s untimely death. This whole arc in the story ironically reminded me so much of The Crown when young Lilibet too had to take over her father’s throne. Indira knows her father’s ideologies best just like Lilibet knew her Papa’s. But of course Indira is much more fierce and firm while making her decisions and wants to hit the Americans back where it hurts.
Messing with the Americans comes with dangers of its own. They want to take Homi out of the picture so India loses its chances at progressing as a strong nation. Mathur’s character, played by K.C. Shankar is not even based on a real life person but becomes such a crucial part of the plot and plays a pivotal role in tying the CIA’s involvement in Homi’s horrific death.
Coming to the women of Rocket Boys, the portrayal of Mrinalini Sarabhai has always been a highlight for me. Regina Cassandra plays the character with exactly the right amount of poise a Bharatanatyam teacher has and I say this because watching her often reminded me of my own. She can show all the rasas (expressions) through the depth in her eyes, be it rudra (anger), karuna (compassion) or hasya (happiness). She was a woman way ahead of her times but one who’d never give up her voice simply for the sake of her marriage. I love the way she explains how a woman’s dreams and ambitions become a shadow after marriage through her choreography. While everyone believed she should dance everyday in her famous husband’s honor, she, on the other hand, showed everyone how her marriage is in shackles through a dance recital.
They say behind every successful man, there’s a woman and Homi and Pipsy’s (Saba Azad) relationship is the true embodiment of that. Their camaraderie and friendship even after her marriage to someone else has sparks flying all over. Nobody can light his face up like she does and they are each other’s biggest support system and cheerleaders.
The cast of this show in general deliver their characters so well. From Dibyendu Bhattacharya as a wrongfully accused Raza Mehdi to, Arjun Radhakrishnan as the younger APJ Abdul Kalam to the powerhouses of talent Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh, I simply feel like I am in the room with these characters, rooting for them or hurting with them. The aura that especially Jim Sarbh brings on-screen is just something else. I cannot take my eyes off him in a scene, watching him becoming one with the character and just enjoying being a Parsi on-screen is a joy to watch.
The color palette through the 8 episodes feels so authentic and I love how from the lighting to the production designs to the costume, each department nails the vintage aesthetics that the era demands. The background music helps bring out the essence of the show even more and subconsciously creates a perspective of the story. The violin piece especially played an important role in accentuating my emotions as a viewer and felt so rich in nature. The opening credits animation by Kokaachi as usual makes it hard to skip intro (look out for episode 7 in particular).
Rocket Boys is the celebration of some of the most gifted minds of our country. Telling the story of the ones who paved the way for us. Today we are able to watch content through so many devices but that would never be possible without the seed of dream that these minds carried within them. The drama, the politics, the hard work, value of time, disappointments, how they find solutions to their obstacles, the never give up attitude, the adrenaline, I mean who would’ve thought that watching these superhumans of Indian scientific history go through all of this would make for such an entertaining watch? I knew nothing about them when I started watching the show, and now it has left me with a lot of respect for the two. Even after unexpectedly leaving this planet, the two rocket boys left behind their team to the next set of Rocket Boys who were ready to take on what they couldn’t.
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