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Exclusive! Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’s Rajeev Ravindranathan: Madhavan is a born director

With the R Madhavan directorial - currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Voot - being recently announced as an official contender at Oscars 2023, actor Rajeev Ravindranathan reminisces about the making of the film

Exclusive! Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’s Rajeev Ravindranathan: Madhavan is a born director

Rajeev Ravindranathan; the poster of Rocketry: The Nambi Effect

  • Reema Gowalla

Last Updated: 04.26 PM, Jan 20, 2023

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Actor R Madhavan's been over the moon lately. Why? His directorial debut - Rocketry: The Nambi Effect - is now an official contender at the 95th Academy Awards. He recently shared the news with his fans and followers on social media. Released in July 2022, the biopic follows the journey of Padma Bhushan awardee Nambi Narayanan - a noted aerospace scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation, who was falsely accused in the ‘1994 ISRO espionage case’. Obviously, it’s a matter of great pride and enthusiasm for the entire cast and crew of the film as well. Actor Rajeev Ravindranathan - who played Param, a scientist and Nambi’s friend in the film - feels that featuring on the Oscars 2023 list is a ‘beautiful bonus’ for a film made with so much love, passion and effort.

Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Voot, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is written, directed and produced by Madhavan, who’s also fondly referred to as Maddy. “The fact that the name of the film now appears on a list of 300 contenders, chosen from thousands of global entries, is itself a matter of great pride for all of us. We were overwhelmed and grateful by the responses we received from the Indian audience. Now, being on the Oscar list means that more people from around the world are going to watch the film. That’s a big reward for us. The film is about an unsung hero, whose story had to be told,” says Rajeev, who’s previously acted in movies like 3 Idiots and English Vinglish.   

Rajeev Ravindranathan and R Madhavan in a scene from Rocketry: The Nambi Effect
Rajeev Ravindranathan and R Madhavan in a scene from Rocketry: The Nambi Effect

Filmed before the pandemic brought the world to a standstill, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is made in three languages - English, Hindi and Tamil. The film was extensively shot in France, Georgia and Serbia. Speaking about his experience of working with Madhavan, Rajeev says, “Before and during the making of the film, Maddy had studied so much about rocket science, engines and fuels that even Nambi sir once remarked that he wished Maddy was on his team during his ISRO days.”

This is Rajeev’s third collaboration with Madhavan. “Previously, I have worked with him in 3 Idiots and Vettai (a Tamil action thriller film). Although he had me in mind for the role of Param, initially he had invited me to join his directorial team. But at that point, I just couldn’t commit two years to this project. Later, however, I did help him with the production work as well. I had cast the roles of Abdul Kalam, the interrogators and some of the other characters. Even while shooting abroad, I was among those who was in constant conversation with airline executives and customs officials, persuading them to go easy on our massive luggage load of equipment and props. Looking at the kind of dedication the director himself was putting in at all levels of the project, I couldn’t help getting obsessed with supporting Maddy in telling Nambi’s story to the world. Not many people know that Madhavan has an extremely high IQ. He had the vision, experience and technical know-how to helm a difficult project like this, not to mention his debut directorial. We may have only seen him as an actor all these years, but it would probably not be wrong to say that Madhavan is a born director.” 

In order to help make the characters look as real as possible, prosthetic makeup and wigs were avoided during the making of the movie. “In the course of it, we had all gained body weight and grown our moustaches and beards to resemble the characters we were playing on screen. All of us, particularly Maddy, had transformed completely for the film. We were high on passion and dedication. It was, in fact, a very humbling experience,” Rajeev adds.    

Rajeev with Nambi Narayanan
Rajeev with Nambi Narayanan

Commenting on RRR’s big win at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, the Bengaluru-based actor says, “The energy of this film is feverish. It’s a rustic and rooted narrative that has displayed superlative powers. It would be phenomenal to see Naatu Naatu being performed live on the Oscars stage.”  

Rajeev’s latest project - Chup: Revenge of the Artist - is currently streaming on ZEE5. Directed by R Balki, the 2022 psychological thriller film stars Sunny Deol, Dulquer Salmaan, Pooja Bhatt, Shreya Dhanwanthary and Saranya Ponvannan. Next, he will be seen with Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sen Sharma in an upcoming Netflix TV series, called Soup, directed by Abhishek Chaubey. Also in the pipeline is Suman Kumar’s Raghu Thatha, where Rajeev will be sharing screen space with Keerthy Suresh.

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