Biopics are usually hard to stay grounded to the reality and yet generate enough excitement to pull audience into the theatres. Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is a class act in showing how impactful movies can be made without having a ginormous budget to boast of.
If anyone had any doubts about Madhavan as a crowd puller, this movie should set it to rest. I was watching the movie in a crowded theater, almost full house, in a Sydney suburb with a deeply appreciative audience. (While the movie was released in different languages, I watched the tamil version)
Here is what I liked about the movie:
- Madhavan is effortlessly brilliant in his depiction of a real life character; the flaws, the tiny mannerisms, the growth of the character as an individual which has resulted in an emotive connect with the audience. For eg, in the scene where he is offered tea after being brutalized, his hands shiver and his body shakes with the ordeal of it all. One cannot help but be moved by this and other scenes in the movie.
- The rich life of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan is excellent material for the movie. Director Madhavan has chosen the right story for telling the tale. This is also a tale that hadn’t captured the public’s attention earlier, hence a fresh hitherto unknown tale.
- The humour interspersed throughout the first half of the movie makes it all the more enjoyable to watch.
- Extended cameo appearances by Suriya and Karthik Kumar adds flavour to the film as a whole as they pull off their characters with aplomb.
- I deeply appreciated the fact that except for the precisely timed suprabatham, there were no other unnecessary songs or action sequences to dilute the emotive quotient of the movie.
What could have been better:
- The back story of how Nambi was framed with espionage could have been explored in a bit more detail. An eminent scientist framed so audaciously, the investigative sequences of the CBI which established his innocence and yet his legal travails continue for greater than a decade. But this ambiguity was perhaps intended, to stay apolitical.
- While there is an outpouring of grief and solidarity by his ISRO colleagues when he is finally released on bail and reaches his home, it seems a little strange that no one bothered enough to visit him in jail and provide him with succor except a man wronged. This is probably one of those quirks where reality is stranger than fiction. As Madhavan as Nambi remarks, scientists are strange people, perhaps stranger than we knew.
- More screen space could perhaps have been devoted to deeper life choices such as putting the nation first Vs a well heeled career, the contribution of Nambi and the action behind the recent and the extremely successful Mars mission for an even better connect with the audience.
Verdict: This is one of those rare films which you need to watch for yourself irrespective of the media reviews; perhaps your takeaway would just be a tiny bit different than your neighbour’s.