Bollywood actors experiment with scientist avatars
Making a film is not rocket science, and making a film on science doesn’t require people involved to have a doctorate. The Hindi film industry is gearing up to bring stories of scientists and important science missions to the big screen in the coming months. A big-ticket film on Indian space mission — the launch of Mangalyaan — will have actors Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Sharman Joshi, Sonakshi Sinha and Kirti Kulhari. Actor Vidya Balan will also portray legendary mathematician Shakuntala Devi in a biopic on the late Mathematician, directed by Anu Menon. Plus, actor R Madhavan will be playing scientist Nambi Narayan in the film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. In addition to the films, a web series on the life of nuclear scientist Homi J Bhabha will have actor Akshaye Khanna play the lead.
These films are certainly a novel tribute to the unsung heroes. Vidya says, “I am extremely excited to play the ‘human computer’ Shakuntala Devi on the big screen. She was truly someone who embraced her individuality, had a strong feminist voice, and braved many a naysayer to reach the pinnacle of success.”
R Madhavan, too, emphasises that his film aims to bring forth the story of Narayanan, a former ISRO scientist who was accused for espionage and had to serve prison time. He was later found to be innocent . Madhavan says , “I am sure that 95% of the country’s population doesn’t know about Nambi Narayanan, and the 5% that does know about him, doesn’t know his entire story.”
Such films are a refreshing break for the audience, feels film-maker Vivek Agnihotri. “People are tired of sugary love stories and are now exposed to global cinema like never before,” says Agnihotri, adding, “If someone makes a genuine, gripping film on scientists or science, I am sure it will work far better than expectations.
Trade analyst Amul Mohan believes that such stories inspire the audience. He says, “A lot of young people in the industry also get inspired because at the end of the day these are stories you feel strongly about.” Trade analyst Joginder Tuteja agrees and says, “There are so many stories of Indians waiting to be told. When stars pick up the mantle to do such films it helps bring in commercial success.”
On whether such stories resonate with millennials or not, Agnihotri points out that in India, every second child studies science. He says, “These are inspiring films and that’s exactly what the millennials are looking for.” Mohan opines that a story about triumph and Indian pride resonates with people more than any other genre.
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