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Madhavan Delivers Solid Gut-Punch In ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’

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By: Navneet Mundhra
Updated: July 13, 2022 16:43
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R Madhavan’s ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ generated enormous buzz before its release because it is based on the life of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan who was falsely charged for espionage and brutally tortured in the jail. Later, the Supreme Court of India absolved him of all the trumped-up charges.

It is a herculean task to execute a film like this because not only it is based on a complex and controversial subject, but also has strong political undertones. However, Madhavan – who is also the director of the film – succeeds in crafting an engaging and rousing movie.

‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ is a story of a brilliant aerospace engineer who is steadfastly driven to bring laurels for India in the satellite space despite many obstacles. A devout patriot, he puts his country ahead of his family. But his life is thrown into turmoil when one day the Kerala police arrests him on the charges of espionage. In the custody, he is subjected to inhuman torture. His family is callously pilloried and ostracised.

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How Nambi combats false charges arduously and is finally exonerated by the apex court forms the rest of the story.

First things first. Madhavan excels tremendously both as a storyteller and a performer. The narrative is largely gripping and catches you by the scruff of your neck from the first frame. The context is competently set before the drama starts unfolding. The dialogues are nuanced and punchy albeit there is an excess usage of technical jargons in the first-half. Some of the technological terminology is at times too recondite for common people to fully comprehend. But that’s just a minor blip in an otherwise superlative screenplay. In fact, it must be said authenticity isn’t renounced at the expense of playing to the gallery.

Once Nambi is arrested, the story significantly picks up the pace. The jail scenes in which Nambi is tormented are exceedingly moving and captivating without being over-the-top. To the credit of the director, he hasn’t gone overboard just to manipulate the audience emotionally. The travails of his family and his fightback also have a refreshingly real touch to them. At no point, the situations appear oddly schmaltzy or sententious. The climax leaves a lump in your throat and makes one ruminate over Nambi’s journey as the end credits start rolling. That’s a triumph of the director.

As a performer, Madhavan’s range as an actor is on full display. The manner in which he has depicted various shades of Nambi’s character is first-rate. He hasn’t resorted to bombastic spiels or exaggerated histrionics to express a gamut of emotions. If he stole your hearts in 2001 with ‘Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein’, he delivers a solid gut-punch in ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’, which underlines his growth as an actor.

Simran as his wife Meena Narayanan has pitched in a fine performance. Shah Rukh Khan shines in a cameo of an interviewer. Sam Mohan as Unni leaves an impact. Rajit Kapur passes muster in the role of Vikram Sarabhai.

The music is a sore point as none of the songs resonate with the audience though the background music by C.S is pretty effective. Sirsha Ray’s camerawork is marvellous. Nishant Khan’s action scenes are appropriately shot. The editing by Bijith Bala’s could have been snappier especially in the first-half.

On the whole, anchored by Madhavan’s skillful direction, ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ is an evocative human drama which is sure to tug at your heartstrings.

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