Rocket Boys 2 Review: Jim Sarbh, Ishwak Singh and Arjun Radhakrishnan make 'Mission Second Season' successful; Bhabha, Sarabhai and Kalam would be 'smiling'
Web Series: Rocket Boys 2
Cast: Jim Sarbh, Ishwak Singh, Arjun Radhakrishnan, Regina Cassandra, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Charu Shankar, C. Shankar, Namit Das, Neha Chauhan, Rajit Kapoor, Saba Azad
Director: Abhay Pannu
Rating: 3.5 Moons
The critical acclaim received by Rocket Boys is not unknown to the world. Now, a year after its release, the second season is here to take you back in time and witness the world of Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha. This time, the stakes are higher, in reel and real. Headlined by Jim Sarbh, Ishwak Singh, Arjun Radhakrishnan, Regina Cassandra, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Charu Shankar, C. Shankar, Namit Das, Saba Azad and ensemble, Rocket Boys 2 takes the story forward and explores the interpersonal and professional relationships between the characters.
Abhay Pannu returns to the director's chair with the second season of his brainchild. While the foundation of Rocket Boys season 1 was laid on a simple telling of two men who saw the dream of an independent and indigenous country, its continuation explores the ugly and political intervention in the journey to make India a nuclear nation. The question of whether Dr. Homi Bhabha (Jim Sarbh), Dr. Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh) and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (Arjun Radhakrishnan) manage to succeed in the mammoth task that could redefine India's position globally forms the series. Well, in real space, the scientists did achieve it and so do the actors in reel life.
Rocket Boys is hailed as one of the best shows to come out of India and it retains the title with sheer honesty. In the long format show, Abhay, who has also served as the screenplay writer, explores not just one but multiple facets of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. Though most of the story shown in the series is available in the public domain, the engaging narrative and brilliant performances keep the surprise level and shock meter in check.
The second season opens with a bang. There are thrilling moments that bind your attention just to make the viewer curious to know what follows next. The music and cinematography play an important role in achieving this. In the span of 8 episodes, you get a chance to live the lives of these genius men and trust us here, it's not boring as history chapters. There's enough drama happening on screen that you might not get a single moment to look away. This is a pro as well as a major letdown.
Rocket Boys 2 wants to incorporate multiple factual subplots like the tenure of former Prime Ministers and their deaths, Bhabha's unsuccessful love story and Sarabhai's troubled married life. In a bid to do this, the charm and beauty of the Rocket Boys franchise begin fading away. However, the final two episodes are rewarding. The uneven graph is settled well only after the 4th episode. Rocket Boys 2, at some point in time, feels like a show where two parallel tracks are running with Homi on one and Vikram on the other. The merger of these tracks only makes sense when you reach the 8th episode. The on-screen camaraderie between Jim and Ishwak was a highlight of the first season and it doesn't feel satisfying until the last episode.
As indicated in the promo, Rocket Boys 2 was about the execution of Operation Smiling Buddha, India's first successful nuclear bomb test. However, the show skips delving into the details of the roles of Dr. Kalam and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in its success. To cover this void, the show uses powerful visuals and nail-biting suspense to build up the excitement. It more or less works in their favour.
One of the factors that stand out in Rocket Boys 2 is Homi and Mehndi Raza's (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) conversations and scenes together. They'll make you restless, positively, and you will secretly hope that Raza gets justice. Mrinalini Sarabhai's portions bring in the much-needed freshness and sternness in a rather dramatic show. As compared to the first season, this character gets a graph that's worth applauding. When the series gets into exploring politics in the field, it's at the peak of its game and there's no denial about it.
It's Jim Sarbh's kingdom and we're just living in it. At the peak of his career, the actor brings alive Bhabha's flamboyance, humour, presence of mind and softness through his performance. When he appears on screen, you are sucked into a different world altogether. His scenes with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Rajit Kapoor) are perfect but what steals the cherry on the cake is his clash with Mehndi Raza.
Ishwak Singh has the ability to steal a heartbeat with his innocent yet sharp looks. There's no doubt in the fact that he's among the best actors and Rocket Boys 2 is a testament. He has an effortless screen presence which is commendable. As the show progresses, Ishwak will grow on you with his incredible performance. The actor comes with an innate calmness and that's what reflects on the screen as well.
Arjun Radhakrishnan as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is strikingly good. He gets a major role to play in the second season and if there's another season coming up, we're sure it will be his show. In Rocket Boys 2, he shines along with fabulous actors and holds his ground strongly. Dibyendu Bhattacharya kicks the ball out of the park as Mehndi Raza. What a fabulous performer he is! It is him who makes the initial episodes of Rocket Boys 2 interesting and exciting.
Regina Cassandra is stellar as Mrinalini Sarabhai. The first season didn't explore her full potential as an actress but this one does compensate for it. She shows strength and grace while being delightfully perfect in each emotion. There's never enough of Regina and now, it is high time for a spin-off on Mrinalini. Charu Shankar, C. Shankar, and Namit Das add to the show's beauty with their performances. Saba Azad has nothing much to do.
Despite having some flaws, Rocket Boys 2 is a thoroughly entertaining show. Still among the best to come out on OTT, it maintains its legacy without letting down Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and APJ Abdul Kalam. They will be certainly smiling from heaven.
PeepingMoon gives Rocket Boys 2 3.5 Moons