Rocket Boys(SonyLIV; 8 Episodes)
Starring Jim Sarbh, Ishwak Singh
Directed by Abhay Pannu
Rating: ** ½
This not-unwatchable historical series opens a glorious chapter from our past. The plodding though well-intended and times judiciously directed saga of the evolution of India’s nuclear policy, suffers from travel fatigue. It has too many landmarks from Indian history to cross before it get to the point.
Nonetheless getting there is not a plodding bore. There are brightly illuminated sections in the lengthy series, and then there are episodes that are as dull as ditchwater; there is more of the latter, I am afraid. The series actually lights up whenever Jim Sarbh is around. Sarbh, is that kind of an actor who brings a wicked intensity to the smallest and biggest parts.
Give him a Parsi legendary figure to play, and Sarbh wraps his head and heart around it like beautiful paper around a Christmas present.Sadly, Jim Sarbh’s Homi Bhabha’s off and on relationship the perky Pipa(Saba Azad) has more feeling and substance that what he shares with Vikram Sarabhai. Which is a pity, because this is not a series about Homi and Pipa but Homi and Vikram Sarabhai, their uneasy friendship traversing decades, and their differing takes on India’s nuclear policy.
The ideological clash is limited to a few scattered confrontations in ornate corridors chosen more to propagate periodicity than to augment the dramatic potential of the conflicts between two friends ,one of whom would have a nuclear bomb at any cost and the other one for whom conditions apply.
Sarbh’s Homi’s kinship with Pandit Nehru(played with high-pitched intensity by Rajit Kapur) is even trickier and, if one may so, messier. They were friends and according to the series, Nehruji gave Homi a long rope as far as India’s atomic policies were concerned.
Then there is Sarabhai’s troubled marriage with his danseuse wife(Regina Cassandra) . The two actors in the marriage look so incompatible we wonder if they should have ever got married to one another.
Rocket Boys is high on good intentions and comparatively low on execution. There is too much happening here(including a segment on the young Abdul Kalam) , and too little that does justice to that portion of Indian history which it attempts to arrange in a serial manner.