How Rocket Boys Season 2 Grounds Its Geniuses

THERE’S A SCENE in the second season of SonyLiv’s Rocket Boys where Vikram Sarabhai’s mother reacts to the news that her son and daughter-in-law are moving out of their ancestral home. “Acha hai, isse Vikram ko daal aur aate ka bhav toh pta chalega,” says Mrinalini, Sarabhai’s wife. It’s a sequence that perfectly illustrates why Rocket Boys is perfect television. Entangled with global political intrigue, a nation on the brink of social and scientific epiphany, the Rocket Boys remained committed to the fact that no genius can live without being somewhat deranged by the intimate and personal. It’s a creative distinction the show has successfully made from what could so easily have become a jingoistic celebration of a self-serving version of history. On the contrary, in its second season, Rocket Boys remains seductively calm and composed despite engaging in high-flying acts like espionage, war and the political heavens that India has had to learn to contend with.

The second season opens with Homi Bhabha, played by the magnetic Jim Sarbh, talking about a nuclear reactor that she claims is “only for peaceful purposes”. Bhabha clearly has more than just energy, and the CIA intends to make his ideas their primary focus. At the same time, Sarabhai continues to look up into space with the exuberant dynamism of a teenager. Ishwak Singh is poised and charming as the more modest of the two lifelong friends. Both suffer individual setbacks this season, yet both find ways to overcome obstacles. Not by a thunderous stroke of cognitive genius, mind you, but simply, with the tools of bland resilience. Fortunately, the idea of ​​this display was never to confirm their genius, to spread it like tomorrow’s advertisement, but only to seek and save it, a story worth telling.

The second series has to deal with a larger and perhaps more radioactive political context than the previous one: Nehru’s death, Indira’s succession and of course the conspiracy theories surrounding Bhabha’s death. That last bit is pivotal, a kind of creative herring that can be interpreted, for better or worse, as an act of conspiratorial self-identification. It’s safe to say that this show manages to handle such wild ideas, using them to create a mood and texture that lends colorful theories enough relevance to be significant without becoming intimidating. Even a basic Google search can reveal plots here, but the team behind Rocket Boys (Nikkhil Advani and director Abhay Pannu) are smart enough to stimulate without overdoing the scope of the narrative for mischief or magic.

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