Rocket Boys (Season 2)
It is a Thursday but the new releases have already started pouring in. With that I finished watching the new Hindi series, the second season of Rocket Boys which is now streaming on SonyLiv. I still remember the anticipation and the buzz surrounding the first season of Rocket Boys which was based on two of the greatest minds of India – Dr. Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. Everytime there is a content made on great personalities, I am all in! To top it, the series also did have elements of Science that made me draw to its drama(I have a Science background myself).
And I was absolutely blown away with the first season of Rocket Boys that did tick all the right boxes of Season 1. Not only was it a fitting tribute to the great minds of India, but it also celebrated them in a manner which would fill our hearts with pride and a smile on our faces. The individuals, instrumental in building a developing nation and literally giving it wings, by the sheer use of Science was inspirational in every sense of the word and something that we all are indebted to them!
The one criticism that I did have about the first season of Rocket Boys was that I did feel that the story could well have been wrapped up in the first season itself. And so while I was expecting a season two to come, I wasn’t entirely convinced on whether it was warranted for, and therein did lay my skepticism about the show. And because the first season had scaled up new heights, the makers did have a task to not only kickstart the story again but also match up to the massive expectations. And as usual with much curiosity and skepticism, I did venture into the second season of Rocket Boys. Is it worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
The second season of Rocket Boys does pick up from the same point where season one had ended, and it follows the story behind the making of India’s first nuclear bomb headed by some of the greatest minds of the country, amidst a layer of geo-politics. The story here is inspirational as it also does account for the politics that was prevalent at the time when India was just about finding its feet at the world stage with respect to Science. I did like how some of the key incidents which are a part of our History were touched upon, in the wake of India’s rise in the field of Science. The screenplay standing at 8 episodes ranging from 30 odd to 40 odd minutes does make for quite a brisk watch and kudos to the makers for keeping the length of the series in check.
The drama does open with the re-introduction of Dr. Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, who are clearly divided on ideologies, yet do have massive respect for one another. For people who enjoy Science like I do, the opening act has tonnes of scientific jargons which add to the detailing of the drama. Please note that for people who do not enjoy the technicalities, the opening act may not entire work and there may be a sense of disconnect as to what is actually transpiring onscreen. But it was quite fascinating to see the great minds operate and although the drama did only touch the surface of their psyche(and rightly so), I was thoroughly captivated. In between normalcy returns, when you are given a glimpse of the personal lives of the two protagonists while an undercurrent of geopolitics along with key moments in Indian history are touched upon.
The proceedings are supremely engrossing and inspirational purely from the point of view of the individuals overcoming their personal obstacles. And it also did show that how two drastically different individuals with completely different ideologies can not only co-exist but be best of friends too! The political climate of the country during the time was handled with sensitivity. But this time around, the makers did make a genre switch of sorts after the initial first act. There is detailing and a lot of focus on spying and politics that forms a solid foundation for things to follow.
If you have followed the lives of Dr. Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai then you would also be aware of the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of atleast one of the two individuals. And this is also where the drama scores, and scores well. There is a considerable amount of buildup at multiple places and the leisurely narration does ensure that the drama is textured which is a rarity for biopics. You often are witness to a whitewashed image of the individual which is clearly not the case here. The deaths in the drama almost make you a little upset and angry but the writers have done a wonderful job in backing every scene with a heartwarming coat of paint in the following scene that almost does soothe your nerves.
The events leading up to the final act did remind me of the Hindi film Parmanu which was an incident that took place years after the 1974 Operation. And it gave an insight into how inportant the 1974 event actually was which did act as a base for Operation Shakti in 1998 under the leadership of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The turn of events are almost similar and with a similar danger lurking elsewhere. But what eventually transpired was the flex of a country that was up on its feet at the world stage. It was indeed a proud moment with the manner in which it was shot and executed that did make for a heartwarming watch. And what the writing ensured was to lay the importance of extending the legacy of the great minds which the thriving country continues to be indebted to. So overall, the screenplay is more technical this time around but it is very inspirational in every sense of the word, all over again! And that little celebration of the individuals at the end did fill my chest with a lot of pride and I silently did thank them for their contributions to the then budding nation.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
I did have a minor complaint in the first season on how two individuals of the same clan are conversing in Hindi as opposed to their mother tongue. Since the show was to premiere directly on OTT, I did feel that the makers could have added a little more authencity by allowing the individuals to converse in their mother tongue in limited capacity. And I am glad that the makers did make that tweak this time around. The language did add authenticity to the drama and some of the quotes were just so beautifully penned. They were insightful and almost uplifting in many ways, some of which have stayed with me long after the series had ended!
I am a certified Achint Thakkar fan right from his Scan 1992 days. And he has only grown since! The music here including its theme is phenomenal with several undertones on what the drama has to offer. Likewise for the BGM which is subtle in so many scenes but absolutely uplifting in others. The cinematography is excellent, the VFX could have been a little better but it did not hamper the impact of the drama in any manner. Director Abhay Pannu had a huge task ahead of him to live up to the first season(which he had directed as well). And his direction is phenomenal here in keeping you engaged and engrossed all throughout. But more importantly, he did not resort to unnecessary jingoism and the focus was always on the celebration of the great minds and the unsaid heroes of a then budding country. The direction does deserve distinction marks here.
The performances are outstanding by the ensemble cast. Priya Raina(a couple of amazing voiceovers that lend authencity to the drama and the era where the drama is set in) and Neha Chauhan as Kamla have their moments to shine. Leah Khambata as Dr. Homi Bhabha’s secretary was pretty good in that lovely scene at the beginning. Rajit Kapur as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was wonderful to watch and his diction was just amazing to witness and study. Mark Bennington as Crowly is natural to the core and does a swell job. Namit Das as Prosenjit Dey is incredibly good in a rather negative role. KC Shankar as Mathur is unassuming in his persona and this aspect does add layers to his character. And he is wonderful to watch. Dibyendu Bhattacharya as Raza Mehndi is such a great actor and he is brilliantly with the way he portrays his vulnerability and desperation here.
Charu Shankar as Indira Gandhi delivers a very dignified performance. She was excellent and very impressive. Rahul Dey Shetty as Raja Ramanna is absolutely first rate. Saba Azad as Pipsy is incredibly good and there is a certain sense of charm and panache to her character that she carries through and through. Regina Cassandra as Mrinalini is wonderfully restrained with several layers to her character which were so well expressed through her phenomenal performance. Arjun Radhakrishnan as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is sincere and earnest yet fiery and everytime he did appear onscreen, I had a smile on my face.
Ishwak Singh as Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is outstanding in his performance. The amount of control that he did have in his performance was beautiful to witness. There was not a single scene wherein he was loud or out of character and this performance is an elevation of his craft to the next level. Jim Sarbh as Dr. Homi Bhabha is flamboyant and playful yet excellent in his performance. The character did carry a mountain of pain within him yet always did have a smile on his face and that was beautifully represented onscreen. The duo have the best scenes of the series together and you could almost sense a lot of goodwill and vibe in their respective performances.
The second season of Rocket Boys is yet again a fitting tribute to the great minds of our nation which is inspirational in so many ways and a celebratory drama that does come with my highest recommendation. Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended!