Rocket Boys 2 is worthy sequel

Ishwak Singh and Jim Sarbh as Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha respectively in Rocket Boys 2. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Very few second seasons (sequels is the term used in cinema!) maintain the standards of the preceding ones. And Rocket Boys 2 is one such. If it does not cross the excellence of the first part (wonder if it is because writer Shiv Singh is absent from the otherwise same team of writers!) despite the increased drama in the happenings, it is perhaps because of how the real story panned out, with major roles played by politicians like Nehru, Shastri, Morarji Desai and Kamaraj.

Nevertheless excitingly told, the narrative develops an edge-of-the-seat quality in the last four episodes, after a drag of a saga midway following Nehru’s death. The writers skillfully avoid the controversy over Shastri’s death by limiting themselves to accepting it as a mystery. Closer home to the story is the description of how Dr. Homi Bhabha was also eliminated. The Bhabha-Sarabhai face-off is also highlighted more this time. Real-meets-fictionally dramatized in a fascinating narration yet again, as we have the way the character graphs of Raza (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) and Mathur (K.C. Shankar) are further developed (these two are fictitious additions) to enhance drama.

However, the secrecy of the operation for India’s first nuclear test (named Smiling Buddha) strongly resembled the story told in Parmanu—The Story of Pokhran, the 2018 film, which was about India’s second and more dramatic nuclear explosion. In reality, admittedly, both operations had to be conducted in secrecy, with the USA primarily being suspicious about India’s nuclear activity. The dramatizations are excitingly enough though, giving a razor-edge air.

The personal relationships this time are handled more deftly, as between Homi Bhabha (Jim Sarbh) and Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh), Bhabha and Nehru (Rajit Kapur), Bhabha and Mrinalini Sarabhai (Regina Cassandra), Mrinalini with her husband Vikram, Vikram with daughter Mallika and his parents, and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (Arjun Radhakrishnan) with both the scientists.

The ‘filmi’ thrill angle between Reza, Mathur, Bhabha and Sarabhai is precisely that—very exciting maybe for someone who has never watched a Hindi film, but common enough for the majority that has seen similar sequences, albeit in different settings, in countless movies.

Technically, the new series continues to be distinguished, with special marks again to Achint Thakkar, the composer, cinematographer Harshvir Oberai, and also the production design and VFX teams, the make-up and costume department and the credit titles designers. The editing could have been, as already said, sharper in the episodes midway.

Director Abhay Pannu has deservingly won an award or two for the first season and continues to be in great fettle, and once again, the dialogues (written mainly by Kausar Munir) stand out. The performances are again top-grade, led, of course, by that new institution among actors—Jim Sarbh. It seems impossible given the perfection of his performance in Season One, but Jim actually improves upon his work in the earlier part! So do Ishwak Singh and Regina Cassandra, while the always-dependable Dibyendu Bhattacharya overcomes the stereotype of his character (as written) to deliver a wow performance again.

Saba Azad as Pipsy gets into stride in her breakdown sequence, while I have never watched a more credible reel Indira Gandhi than Charu Shankar (her makeup too is outstanding). Two other actors stand out— Rahul Dev Shetty as Raja Ramanna and Arjun Radhakrishnan again as the decisive Abdul Kalam. The actor playing Kamaraj does very well too, though Shastri and Morarji Desai could have been better-written, if not enacted.

Rating: ****

Sony LIV presents Roy Kapur Films’ & Emmay Entertainment’s Rocket Boys 2 Created by Nikkhil Advani Produced by: Siddharth Roy Kapur, Nikkhil Advani, Madhu Bhojwani & Monisha Advani  Directed by: Abhay Pannu Written by: Abhay Korrane, Abhay Pannu & Kausar Munir Music: Achint Thakkar  Starring: Jim Sarbh, Ishwak Singh, Regina Cassandra, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajit Kapur, Saba Azad, Arjun Radhakrishnan, K.C. Shankar, Namit Das, Neha Chauhan, T.M. Karthik, Asmita Meghrajani, Charu Shankar, Rahul Dev Shetty, Mark Bennington & others




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