‘Rocket Boys’ director Abhay Pannu: I want Gen Zs and millennials to know about Sarabhai and Bhabha

Abhay Pannu discusses his recent Sony Liv show, ‘Rocket Boys’, starring Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh as Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai

February 04, 2022 08:00 pm | Updated February 09, 2022 12:31 pm IST

Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh

Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh

Two days before the release of his debut show, Rocket Boys , (it is now streaming on SonyLIV), I ask Abhay Pannu if he is excited or nervous.

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“More tired,” he says, chuckling. He has been working almost until the last minute to make sure he has told the story of his show in the way he wanted. And, the story of his show is an extraordinary one : it narrates the lives of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai (played by Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh, respectively), two colossal figures of modern Indian science.


Bhabha and Sarabhai, despite their phenomenal achievements, have not been of great interest to India’s pop culture. Pannu, a science student, felt the need to tell their story. “Not specifically of Vikram Sarabhai’s and Homi Bhabha’s. But when I was in college, I wanted to tell the stories of many other people from that era. Like JRD Tata. These men were the true nation builders of the country. They sacrificed so much to ensure that we live the life we have today. I wanted to tell a story that is actually patriotic and not jingoistic.”

READ: The Jim Sarbh interview

It is a surprise that the lives of Bhabha and Sarabhai have not been explored in films before, says Pannu, adding that they are replete with drama. . “As a filmmaker, when you are trying to tell a real story, you are constantly thinking of points where you can add drama to make it more palatable. But with this show, I’ve just managed to capture 20% of the drama in their lives. I couldn’t show everything. There was espionage, romance, patriotism, nation building... I did not have to add anything to make it more interesting.”

It was, nevertheless, challenging to recreate the zeitgeist of nascent India. “We strived to acquaint people with Bhabha’s and Sarabhai’s contributions and their achievements yet make their stories engaging and entertaining. The Gen Zs and millennials don’t know about them. The idea was to make a relatable story with relatable characters.”

Pannu and his team extensively researched, met with the relatives of these late scientists (like Sarabhai’s wife, Mallika), and rehearsed a lot to portray them on screen.

Pannu will know in the following few days if all his and his team’s hard work has paid off. But more than the verdict of the people, he says, “I want to be happy with what I made when I am watching the show with my family, friends, and loved ones. Then, whatever happens, does not matter.”

Rocket Boys is streaming on SonyLIV

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