Rocketry: The Nambi Effect

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Rocketry: The Nambi Effect
Rocketry The Nambi Effect.jpg
Poster with previous release date
Directed byMadhavan
Produced bySarita Madhavan
Varghese Moolan
Vijay Moolan
Screenplay byMadhavan
Music bySam C. S.
CinematographySirsha Ray
Edited byBijith Bala
Tricolour Films
Varghese Moolan Pictures
Distributed byRed Chillies Entertainment (Hindi)
Release date

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is an upcoming Indian biographical drama film based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist and aerospace engineer of the Indian Space Research Organisation who was accused of espionage.[1][2] The film is written, produced and directed by Madhavan in his directorial debut, who also stars along with Simran.

The film is shot simultaneously in Hindi, Tamil, and English and will also be released in the Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada languages. The story spans across Narayanan's days as a graduate student at Princeton University, before exploring his work as a scientist and the false espionage charges placed upon him. The film began its pre-production works in early 2017 and is scheduled to release in mid-2021.[3]


A biographical drama based on the life of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who fought years on end for justice after being falsely accused of espionage.




A film based on the espionage case of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan was first announced to the media in September 2012 by director Anant Mahadevan. Journalist C. P. Surendran had proposed the idea for a potential film on Narayanan to Mahadevan during June 2012. The two then met Narayanan in person to discuss the idea and seek his permission, and he agreed to serve as a consultant for the project.[4][5] Malayalam actor Mohanlal was cast in the role of Narayanan, while Resul Pookutty, Sreekar Prasad and L. Subramaniam were finalised as the sound designer, editor and music composer for the project. Titled The Witch Hunt, the film was to be made in the Hindi and Malayalam languages.[6] The team were in talks with several production houses but the project eventually did not take off as planned. Mahadevan later narrated the idea of the film to actor Madhavan in the mid-2010s, who helped take the film forward.[7]

Work on Rocketry: The Nambi Effect was first reported by Madhavan in the media during April 2017, when he announced that he was set to appear in a biopic featuring the "extraordinary story of an unsung hero", who was "neither an actor nor a sportsman". He called the project his "biggest film ever" and stated that he had worked silently on the script of the film for a period of two years after becoming intrigued by hearing the tale of Narayanan's false espionage charge.[8] To develop the script and to provide a more factual account of the events, Madhavan regularly met with Narayanan, garnering his approval for the film and discussing the scientist's life experiences. As a result of their conversations, Madhavan chose to alter his original script to include portions from Narayanan's entire career and his services to the Indian space programme, rather than just matters related to the espionage case and his 1994 arrest.[9][10] For the script, he also took inspiration from Narayanan's autobiography Ormakalude Bhramanapadham (2017) and Arun Ram's official biography of the scientist titled Ready To Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO Spy Case (2018).[11]

In October 2017, Madhavan confirmed that pre-production work for the film was underway and that he would portray Narayanan from the ages of 27 to 75, and that he was gaining weight to film the scenes featuring the older version of Narayanan first, after taking advice from Aamir Khan. Madhavan also announced that alongside his screenwriting and acting credits, he would also be one of the producers of the project.[12] In regard to the making of the film, Mahadevan stated that he hoped to differ in the script in comparison to other biographical films, and suggested that he would not call the film a "biopic" but an "incisive investigation into a brilliant mind and India's ambitious space technology".[13] He also added that he felt that Madhavan was the "only Indian actor qualified to do this part" owing to his background as an electronic engineer with air-force training, and because he was "a thinking-actor who is also well-read".[13] Madhavan was later announced as a joint director of the film.[14]


Principal photography began on 4 January 2019 in Mumbai and was shot as a multilingual, with scenes simultaneously filmed in the English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages.[13][15] A few days after the start of the shoot, Mahadevan left the project owing to prior commitments and Madhavan took over as the project's sole director.[16][17] Film director and writer Prajesh Sen, who had previously co-written Ormakalude Bhramanapadham and worked on a documentary titled Nambi The Scientist, joined the project as a co-director.[18] Scenes featuring Madhavan as the aged Narayanan were filmed first, with the actor taking up to 14 hours to get into the look following extensive make-up.[19][20] During the first schedule in India, Simran joined the film's cast to portray the wife of the lead character, while actors Suriya and Shah Rukh Khan agreed to make cameo appearances in the Tamil and Hindi versions respectively as themselves.[21][22] Other actors who joined the cast during the production were Tamil actor Jagan to portray a scientist, Rajit Kapur to feature as Indian physicist Vikram Sarabhai in the Hindi and English versions and Ravi Raghavendra as Vikram Sarabhai in the Tamil version.[23]

In late January 2019, the team moved to film scenes in Georgia and Russia. The team completed the shoot five days prior to the schedule, despite shooting in unfavourable weather conditions.[24][25] In April and May 2019, the team shot scenes in India, with Madhavan shaving his beard to play a younger version of the character. The team subsequently moved on to film the final schedule in France and Serbia.[26][27] Production was completed in Serbia during June 2019, with Scottish actors Ron Donachie and Phyllis Logan also a part of the final schedule.[28][29] The shoot of the film took 44 days to complete. Post-production began in July 2019, with music composer Sam C. S. completing the background score by mid-October 2019.[30] In August 2020, Madhavan revealed that the film had reached the final stages of post-production work and that only fifteen days of work were remaining to complete final sound mixing, mastering and digital intermediate tasks.[31]


A photo of R. Madhavan and others posing for the camera.
The makers at the first look launch on October 31, 2018

Tricolour Films announced the title of the film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect and unveiled a minute-long teaser for the film on 31 October 2018 to mark the start of production. A launch event also coincided with the teaser release, with Nambi Narayanan himself in attendance.[1] A theatrical trailer of the film was released online in six languages on 1 April 2021. Madhavan recalled a conversation that he had with Narayanan to explain the trailer's release coinciding with April Fools' Day, where the scientist had described himself as a "fool" who had been the "victim of his own patriotism". Madhavan stated he hoped to dedicate the trailer to these 'fools' who are "incredible unsung heroes and make this world a better place".[32]

The trailer received positive responses,[33] with Manoj Kumar of The Indian Express and a reviewer from The News Minute both calling the trailer "riveting".[34][35] Madhavan and Narayanan met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show him clips from the film. Modi later tweeted that the "film covers an important topic, which more people must know about" and praised the footage that he was shown.[36][37] A number of film personalities including Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Suriya, Hrithik Roshan and Samantha Akkineni also shared and praised the trailer.[38][39][40]


  1. ^ a b "'Rocketry – The Nambi Effect' teaser: Madhavan presents scientist Nambi Narayanan's story".
  2. ^ "R. Madhavan: 95 per cent of Indians don't know about Nambi Narayanan, which I think is a crime". 1 November 2018.
  3. ^ Desk, The Hindu Net (1 April 2021). "'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect' trailer: Madhavan reaches for the stars, and then some" – via
  4. ^ Indo-Asian News Service (9 October 2012). "Mohanlal to star in Bollywood film on ISRO spy case". NDTV. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  5. ^ Jha, Subhash K. (21 September 2012). "Mohanlal to play espionage accused ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  6. ^ Press Trust of India (27 September 2012). "Embittered ISRO scientist's story on big screen". Business Line. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  7. ^ Chellappan, Kumar (8 December 2013). "True lies". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  8. ^ "R Madhavan's next is a biopic and it also has Sushant Singh Rajput and Nawazuddin Siddiqui". Hindustan Times. 11 April 2017.
  9. ^ "R. Madhavan : Not knowing Nambi Narayanan is a crime | Hindi Movie News - Times of India". 1 November 2018. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Nambi Narayanan: Waiting to see R Madhavan do my role on screen - Times of India". The Times of India.
  11. ^ "Former ISRO scientist's saga to be made into a film | Thiruvananthapuram News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  12. ^ "I keep meeting people who think it's the end of the road for me: Madhavan - Times of India". The Times of India.
  13. ^ a b c Surendhar, MK (18 July 2018). "Madhavan to star in director Ananth Mahadevan's untitled biopic about ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan- Entertainment News, Firstpost". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  14. ^ ChennaiOctober 31, India Today Web Desk; October 31, 2018UPDATED; Ist, 2018 16:17. "Rocketry The Nambi Effect teaser out: Madhavan turns director with space thriller". India Today.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "R Madhavan is Nambi Narayanan's doppelganger in Rocketry on-set photos". 22 January 2019.
  16. ^ "R. Madhavan to direct 'Rocketry - The Nambi Effect' solely | Business Standard News". Inter-Asian News Service. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  17. ^ Khajane, Muralidhara (1 August 2019). "How do you play Gandhiji's father?". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Nambi Narayanan taught me to be more appreciative, says writer-director Prajesh Sen". The New Indian Express.
  19. ^ P Kirubhakar. "Madhavan's transformation into Narayanan for Rocketry The Nambi Effect is unbelievable. Watch video - Movies News". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  20. ^ "R Madhavan's transformation into 77-year-old ISRO scientist for Rocketry leads to hilarious memes". 25 January 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  21. ^ Narayan, Adithya (18 January 2019). "Simran To Star Opposite Madhavan In Rocketry: The Nambi Effect –". Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Suriya, Shah Rukh Khan land cameos in Madhavan's 'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect'". The News Minute. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Rajit Kapur on playing Gandhi, Nehru and Modi: You have to find their core". 28 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Madhavan wraps up the Russia schedule of Rocketry - The Nambi Effect". The New Indian Express.
  25. ^ "Madhavan in Georgia on location hunt for 'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect'". The News Minute. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  26. ^ Thakkar, Nikita (13 May 2019). "R Madhavan's clean shaven look for Rocketry: The Nambi Effect will help you beat your Monday blues". Archived from the original on 19 May 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Madhavan wraps India schedule of 'Rocketry - The Nambi Effect' | Tamil Movie News - Times of India". 21 May 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  28. ^ "Madhavan's 'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect' shoot wrapped in Serbia". Sify.
  29. ^ K., Subhash; Jha (18 July 2019). "Madhavan on Nambi Narayan Biopic: 'I Have Given Three Years of My Life to Put Together this Story'".
  30. ^ "Rocketry was a challenging film: Sam CS | Tamil Movie News - Times of India". 11 October 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  31. ^ "Madhavan back to work to complete 'Rocketry - The Nambi Effect' - Times of India". The Times of India.
  32. ^ "This is why Madhavan released Rocketry trailer on April Fool's Day - Times of India". The Times of India.
  33. ^ "After Rocketry's trailer launch, R Madhavan reveals 5 people in his home have tested positive for Covid".
  34. ^ "Watch: Trailer of Madhavan and Simran's 'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect' is riveting". The News Minute. 1 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Rocketry trailer: Madhavan promises a riveting biopic with cameos by Suriya, SRK". 2 April 2021.
  36. ^ "Narendra Modi lauds Madhavan's 'Rocketry'!". Sify. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  37. ^ "PM Modi Reacts To R Madhavan's Rocketry: The Nambi Effect". Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  38. ^ "Rocketry Trailer: Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan And Others Blown Away By "Madhavan Effect"".
  39. ^ "'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect' trailer: Priyanka Chopra all praise for 'maverick' R Madhavan's debut directorial - Times of India". The Times of India.
  40. ^ "Samantha Akkineni gets teary-eyed after watching R Madhavan's Rocketry trailer".

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