Rocketry: The Nambi Effect
|Rocketry: The Nambi Effect|
|Produced by||Sarita Madhavan|
|Music by||Sam C. S.|
|Edited by||Bijith Bala|
Varghese Moolan Pictures
|Distributed by||Red Chillies Entertainment (Hindi)|
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. 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.
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.
- Madhavan as Nambi Narayanan
- Simran as Meena Narayanan
- Rajit Kapur as Vikram Sarabhai (Hindi and English versions)
- Ravi Raghavendra as Vikram Sarabhai (Tamil and Telugu versions)
- Misha Ghoshal as Geeta Narayanan
- Shyam Renganathan as Shankar Narayanan
- Muralidaran as Arunan
- Karthik Kumar as P. M. Nayar
- Gulshan Grover as A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
- Dinesh Prabhakar as L. D. Gopal
- Mohan Raman as Udupi Ramachandra Rao
- Ron Donachie as Col. Cleaver
- Phyllis Logan as Mrs Cleaver
- Vincent Riotta as Luigi Crocco
- Bijou Thaangjam as Studio Personal
- Rajeev Ravindranathan as Param
- Sam Mohan as Unni
- Bhawsheel as Sartaj
- Suriya as himself (guest appearance; Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu version)
- Shah Rukh Khan as himself (guest appearance; Hindi, Kannada and English versions)
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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).
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. 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". 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". Madhavan was later announced as a joint director of the film.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Production was completed in Serbia during June 2019, with Scottish actors Ron Donachie and Phyllis Logan also a part of the final schedule. 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. 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.
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. 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".
The trailer received positive responses, with Manoj Kumar of The Indian Express and a reviewer from The News Minute both calling the trailer "riveting". 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. A number of film personalities including Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Suriya, Hrithik Roshan and Samantha Akkineni also shared and praised the trailer.
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