Rocket boys review: Terrific series soars to uncharted heights 

Rating: 4.5/5

SonyLIV’s historical drama series ‘Rocket Boys’ revisits the lives of renowned scientists Him J. Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, tracing important events that shaped two of the greatest minds in Indian history. It has been created by Nikkhil Advani, Roy Kapur Films and Emmay Entertainment.

Story

Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh) chooses to leave his masters at Cambridge University due to the threat posed by the ongoing World War.

Unhappy at feeling unchallenged back in the country, his father helps him enrol in Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc), where he meets Homi J. Bhabha (Jim Sarbh), a professor responsible for the Cosmic Rays Unit.

Their destinies are forever intertwined after the encounter. Sarabhai and Bhabha also begin relationships with Mrinalini (Regina Cassandra) and Pipsy (Saba Azad), respectively.

What follows is the incredible journey the two undertake as they delve into scientific research that changed the course of the country and found notable research centres.

Performances

Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh are the heart and soul of the series, displaying a scintillating camaraderie. The way the two bounce off each other is just a sight to behold. These are performances that will be talked about for years to come.

Sarbh masterfully brings out the more eccentric and westernised personality of Bhabha, not missing a single note in any scene. A special highlight is his stunning monologue delivered during his pitch for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Singh’s character is a bit more rooted, but he matches his colleague step for step. He expertly portrays the more conscious counterpart to Bhabha. It’s scene after scene of stealing the show for the two leads.

The prominent women in the series, Saba Azad and Regina Cassandra, hold their own, though it is obvious that the show isn’t about them. With what screen time they have at their disposal, the two impress, especially Azad.

A special mention to Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who convincingly brings out the envy of Mehdi Raza. Rajit Kapur, as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and Arjun Radhakrishnan, as A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, also stand out.

Positives

This is a fitting tribute to two heralded men of the country. It showers them with the praise they deserve, yet brings out their flaws in a humane manner. They are great men, yet relatable. What a directorial debut for Abhay Pannu. If this is his first offering, he is going places.

The treatment of the storyline and characters is no less than the peak of international standards. This is a show created to compete with the best, and so it does. The authenticity is mesmerising.

The well-written dialogues elevate the performances. The characters seamlessly shift from English to Hindi, and it all seems incredibly natural. The scientific jargon, not familiar to most, still does not impede as you resonate with the characters’ passion for the field. The screenplay, again by Pannu, is top-notch.

The entire series looks exquisite. The cinematography is of the highest level. Every scene will transport you to that time, and the setting adds to the show’s brilliance.

The use of sound during different scenes is handled well. Never going over the top, just enough to invoke the certain emotion trying to be conveyed. Achint Thakkar, who got rave reviews for providing the background music for Scam 1992, delivers another gem for Rocket Boys.

Despite narrating passages from history, the show is not tedious for one second. There’s always something happening, and the humour lands when attempted, making it a thoroughly entertaining watch.

Negatives

The cliche of Bitishers with white saviour complex getting a response in praise of India is getting a bit repetitive. This could have been more subtle, keeping in tune with the tone of the rest of the series. 

Verdict

Rocket Boys will give you goosebumps on more occasions than one. This is storytelling of the apex calibre. One of the best shows to have come out of India, it is proof of the true extent of what can be achieved when all the stars align.


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