March 1, 2024


Science It Works

R. Madhavan’s new film adds to India’s science fiction tales

New Delhi: Actor R. Madhavan has announced Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, a biographical drama based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, former scientist and aerospace engineer of the Indian Space Research Organisation who was accused of espionage.

The film, written, produced and directed by Madhavan in his directorial debut, features the actor in the lead along with Simran.

Rocketry, shot simultaneously in Hindi, Tamil and English, adds to the handful of science fiction dramas India has produced, even as it continues to endorse Hollywood spectacles like the Star Wars franchise films, Avengers, Avatar and so on with robust box office numbers.

The science fiction tale begins as early as 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong even took that giant leap for mankind, with director TP Sundaram’s Trip to Moon (Chand Par Chadhayee) where legendary action star Dara Singh travels to different planets with a sidekick and beats up aliens.

More than 50 years later, the science fiction genre in Hindi cinema remains far less exploited with most significant films having gravitated towards the superhero zone (Mr. India, Krrish, Ra.One, 2.0) and others landing up as colossal disasters (Drona, Love Story 2050, Joker). Akshay Kumar’s Mission Mangal that made close to 200 crore in box office collections in 2019 remains the last memorable exception.

To be sure, making a science fiction film is an expensive affair, according to trade experts. Both Ra.One (2011) and Krrish 3 (2013) were made for over 100 crore, a huge sum for the time of their theatrical release, while Rajinikanth’s 2.0 that came out in 2018, is arguably one of the costliest films ever made in Indian cinema, at more than 500 crore. Further, the fact that Indian audiences are exposed to Hollywood science fiction spectacles sometimes leads to filmmakers fearing that Indian productions would pale in comparison.

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