Let me start by saying ‘Rocketry: The Nambi effect’ exceeds my expectation on every level. It is the perfect example of how story-telling and direction can make a biopic so appealing that you are glued to your seat for over two hours and write something in the next morning.
I remember as a kid I sat for over an hour to watch the launch of PSLV from Sriharikota. Humans are always fascinated by Howitzer and Rockets. But the science behind those rockets is so complicated and the stakes are so high that very few can pursue that path. Padma Bhusan Mr. Nambi Narayanan attended Princeton University to learn liquid fuel engines (let’s say a type of rocket engine that was not available in India at that time) then mastered it from France and went on to build an indigenous rocket engine ‘Vikas’ in India. Since 1985 the ‘Vikas‘ rocket engine never failed.
Coming back to the movie, ‘Rocketry’ is filmed in 3 different languages – Hindi, English, and Tamil with 2 different sets of actors. The first half shows Mr. Nambi’s achievements like how a motivated individual went out of his comfort zone to attend foreign institutions, learned foreign languages, and built rocket engines that out-performed high-budget European counterparts. Then he led the import of Cryogenic engines from the falling USSR, right under the nose of the mighty USA. The second half is about the controversy and false allegation against Mr. Nambi Narayanan that ripped apart his personal as well as his professional life. The film has only 2 background songs, no dance, and no fight scenes yet it won my heart. The most challenging part according to me for the director or the screenwriter was to make the story relevant to the audience without overloading the rocket-science jargon. Making a biopic on a sportsman or someone popular is comparatively easier because the audience can relate to it from the beginning. But highlighting the achievements of a rocket scientist without overfeeding the audience with the technical terms was the main challenge for the makers. Later on, I went on to research more about the making of the film and the characters. I watched the interview of R Madhavan, the scriptwriter, the director, and the producer of the movie with Jaby Koay, a popular Youtuber. In that interview, he mentioned how he believed the story of Mr. Nambi Narayana should reach the people of India. According to him, the movies we create make the image of India in front of the world. So our movies should be about the good work and good people around us. People should know about our heroes and feel proud of them.
Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna awards are the highest civilian awards in India. It takes a lifetime of good work and hardship to achieve one such award. This is high time we start celebrating our heroes.