“Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is a Mindblowing Masterpiece” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Rocketry: The Nambi Effect

Starring R Madhavan,Simran

Directed by R Madhavan

Once in a while a film comes along to change lives. Tamil-Hindi star-actor R Madhavan’s directorial debut is no ordinary bio-pic. It takes us far away from the glorification of gangsters and the hagiographic tone of biopics on politicians, to give us a revelatory eye-opening story of a scientist who dedicated his life to enhancing India’s aerospace programme, only to be branded a spy.

What happened?

The film’s dramatic core is situated in the post-midpoint segment where we are made conversant with the stigmatization of Nambi Narayanan and his family. The scientist’s interrogation by a handful of seemingly ordinary investigators will send a chill up your smile. Every blow will make you flinch.

Writer-director Madhavan divides Nambi Narayanan’s story into two halves. In the first-half we see the young scientist’s stint in Princeton and his audacious plans to make India a leader in the filed of aerospace.

Then it all falls apart, as espionage charges are hurled at the bewildered incomprehending scientist. As writer, director and actor Madhavan is in full control of the sprawling life story. He knows where to let go and how to tighten the screws in the storytelling. Having a capable editor(Bijith Bala) on board helps the narrative in staying on high-alert constantly.

Although the plot is perpetually pacy, there is a sense of unhurried introspection at the heart. Bringing Shah Rukh Khan in the picture to interview Nambi Narayanan is a masterstroke. Khan not only anchors the show(pun intended) he spontaneously becomes the voice of the nation’s conscience. In an out-and-out Madhavan show, Shah Rukh Khan makes his presence felt very strong. This in my opinion is SRK’s best screen appearance in ages.

Simran as Narayanan’s wife is heartrending in her inconsolable grief as she watches her straightforward righteous husband being abused and assaulted, her family falls apart. Watch Simran when she asks the sympathetic CBI officer(well played by a comic actor in a serious stint Karthik Kumar to leave her home. Or when Narayan’s offpsrings tell him not to die on them before he proves his innocence. “Because if you do, we will be tainted forever.”

The supporting cast played largely by unknown actors, lends an enhanced credence to the film. My favourite supporting actor is Sam Mohan as Unni. It is a strong role of a man who stands by the wrongly accused scientist hero in spite of major personal differences.

When Unni tells Nambi Narayanan, “You have a lot of flaws but you can never be a traitor to the country” every member of the audience becomes Unni. Every moment of Nambi Narayanan’s story will stay with you in the months and years to come. Great wrong was done to a great man. But at least one good thing came out of it.

Thank you, Madhavan.

Our Rating

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