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‘Rocket Boys’ Recap: Season 1: Physicists Who Inspired An Entire Nation

Sony Liv’s original series, “Rocket Boys,” was released on February 4, 2022. It is a fantastic web series that focuses on the journey of a historical event: India’s first rocket launch on November 21, 1963. Directed by Abhay Pannu, “Rocket Boys” established the father of nuclear science in India, Dr. Homi Bhabha, and the father of Indian space research, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, in a remarkable fashion. We have heard or read stories about them, but most of us are still unaware of the nitty-gritty of their contributions and the mindset behind their inventions. The West has been making movies and series about their inventors and scientists very often, but in India, there are only a few projects about our country’s inventors and scientists. Luckily, this series exists, and it is one of the best projects in terms of cinematography, long and descriptive shots, background score, and brilliant performances by the stellar cast. If you still haven’t watched “Rocket Boys” yet, it is highly recommended. Now that we know the second season is set to be released, here’s a recap of the first season of “Rocket Boys.”

Spoilers Ahead

‘Rocket Boys’ Season 1: Recap

“Rocket Boys” is a historical drama series that tells a tale about how two physicists, Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhaba (Jim Sarbh) and Dr. Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh), contributed to India’s first rocket launch in a remote village called Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram in 1963.

The first five minutes of episode 1 are just amazing and set the tone very well. We see the introduction of the iconic characters of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. After a conflict between the leads over whether they should make an atom bomb or not, we go back in time and witness the start of their backstory, which sets its premise in the 1940s. How the lead characters are affected by the world war while studying abroad has been showcased very realistically. After they came back to India, they witnessed the freedom struggle going on and felt the immense tension of the serious situation. The shocking aspect is that, as a scientist, a calm environment is needed to work on something, but with so much going on, they have to indulge themselves in being a part of it. We see in the first episode that Vikram is doing experiments with rockets in Cambridge, then he comes back home, and his family supports his decision to send him to Bangalore to work under Dr. C.V. Raman. The first episode is about the coming together of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai and showcasing how the freedom struggle becomes a part of their lives. The ending of the first episode marks removing the union’s flag and the putting of the Indian flag up, which gives the viewers of this show an amazing experience.

The second episode, however, brings a different tone, and there are many funny segments that people might not anticipate from a series of this nature. The chemistry between Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh is just delightful to watch. We get introduced to the love interests of both characters. The drama is very much needed to show the depths of the characters, and there is a certain depth portrayed in the relationships that allow individual characters to hold onto their unique identities. The scenes of the unit getting shut down and the leads having to raise money for it, and the struggle they face in overcoming their hardships make the show very realistic. However, the constant parallel being drawn between both individuals’ ideologies ends in conflict between the leads, and they part ways.

The first two episodes establish different mindsets and ideologies for the leads, while the third episode of “Rocket Boys” focuses on the individual growth of the lead characters. For Homi Bhabha, we get a backstory and understand what his dreams and motivations are. Also, we see that his dream has come true, but he can never show that to his father. On the other hand, Vikram is dealing with love; he wants to convince Mrinalini (Regina Cassandra) but is struggling with that because of the constantly growing tension. Interestingly, the parallel going on between both characters and how both of them are inspiring each other is beautifully captured.

We all know how cruel and devastating the incident of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, and at the beginning of episode 4, we see snippets from the incident. Unfortunately, Homi lost his father and went into a depression, from which he he couldn’t come out, and he found himself lost in his own world. Later, we see the scenes from Indian Independence Day, the night of August 15, 1947. As the nation advances, the characters are also advancing: Homi wants to work on atomic energy, and Vikram wants to work at the Textile Institute. In this episode, we get to know more about Raza (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) and his backstory and realize why he gets jealous of the leads all the time. One of the most beautiful things about the series is that we get to see the other side of independence. We have seen how it is always shown from the perspective of the freedom fighters struggling for independence and achieving it, but in this episode, we see how it feels from the common people’s perspective and also from the scientists’ perspective. The episode ends with a massive introduction to the character of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (Arjun Radhakrishnan).

The fifth episode of “Rocket Boys” is called “The Outsider,” which is very interesting as it can be many people. It can be Raza, or it can be the reporter who comes to Raza, who is a spy for the C.I.A. The outsider can also be Vikram because he is trying to bring technology to the textile industry and is the odd one out. Politics in India is something that gets in the way of every good aspect, and in this series, we also see a lot of politics going on and what the scientists have to do, which is not easy for them to handle. We see a wonderful performance by Saba Azad in episode 5. Although the main focus of this series is the buildup to making and launching the first rocket, it can be felt by the end of episode 5 that the main topic does get diverted.

It Is very interesting to see how the drama in the series plays a massive role in the development of the lead characters. By the time we reach episode 6, we will have witnessed some hard-core politics. Now, between the scientists themselves, there is always this dilemma that science needs time and money to make something or create something that will help even after a long period of time. Interestingly, Abhay Pannu establishes a brilliant segment that shows a parallel for both Homi and Vikram. For Homi, it’s about spending time building the nuclear reactor, and for Vikram, it’s the mill workers who are not happy that machines are coming and taking up their jobs.

It Is undeniable that the main focus of the show gets drifted away in the first 6 episodes, but luckily, episode 7 of “Rocket Boys” marks a comeback of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam enters the picture and helps him get back on track with making the rocket. We see the nuclear reactor is ready, but unfortunately, something goes wrong, and they have to rebuild it. The end of episode 7 takes us back to the starting point of episode 1, which establishes the conflict over whether to build the atom bomb or not.

‘Rocket Boys’ Season 1: Ending – Physicists Who Inspired An Entire Nation

The final episode of “Rocket Boys” brings a thriller angle to the storyline. The C.I.A. agent and the conspiracy serve really well to establish a different aspect of this series. This episode also marks the historical event of the rocket launch and shows how the characters felt after putting in the effort and surviving through conspiracies and politics. However, the end of this episode is a bit absurd, as it ends with Prosenjit Dey (Namit Das) explaining an unknown event and a conspiracy theory to Vishwesh Mathur (K.C. Shankar).

The Intelligence agencies of the United States never wanted India to hold nuclear power. After Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave the green signal to Dr. Homi Bhabha, the conflict between India and other nations started to take a serious shape. Raza is established as a villainous character in this series, and his actions and leaks within the entire system caused the death of one of the greatest physicists of India, Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhaba.

“Rocket Boys” is definitely one of the most exciting Indian web series that will be released in 2022. The lead characters, Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh delivered powerful performances, which make this show worth binge-watching. Season 2 of “Rocket Boys” is being released on March 16, 2023, on Sony liv, and I assume by watching the trailer that it is definitely going to be exciting for the viewers of this series.


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