India has witnessed a large number of influential scientists who have revolutionized scientific discovery in the nation and made India a significant contributor to global scientific development. From CV Raman’s ‘Raman Effect’ in the field of optics to APJ Abdul Kalam’s development of India’s first SLV, India has been home to several scientific luminaries.
Media has always been an interesting choice to honour the legacy of such contributors. On the occasion of National Science Day, let us celebrate the legacy of revolutionary Indian scientists through these movies and shows presenting the lives and discoveries of eminent Indian scientists in an intriguing and enrapturing fashion:
Mission Mangal (2019)
The 2019 box office-hit is based on the real story of the inspiring team life of the team of ISRO scientists who worked towards making India’s first interplanetary enterprise to Mars a success. Starring Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Tapsee Pannu and Sonakshi Sinha as Rakesh Dhawan, Tara Shinde, Kritika Aggarwal and Eka Gandhi respectively, the Indian drama-sci-fi depicts the life of these group of scientists and their work with the Mars Orbiter Mission. The Independence Day-release is a celebration of the legacy of these Indian scientists who garnered nationwide respect with their untiring efforts and was critically acclaimed alongside becoming the 7th highest grossing Bollywood film of 2019.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
A film adaptation of the Robert Kanigel biography of eminent Indian mathematician Srinivasan Ramanujan, this British biographical drama stars British Indian actor Dev Patel as the struggling scientist Ramanujan as the film tracks his life journey from a poor boy brought up in Madras to his current status of mathematician of international merit and importance. The film presents the inspirational narrative of Ramanujan’s life through his epistolary conversations and mentorship under the Trinity College Professor G H Hardy, played by Jeremy Irons. The 2015 biopic was hailed as “a well-heeled, sincere production following the memories of Ramanujan’s English mentor and friend” by a Screen Daily review and was selected as the opening gala of the Zurich Film Festival in 2015.
Rocket Boys (2022)
The recently released Indian web series is all the rage now as it offers a unique insight into the lives of popular Indian scientists and physicists Homi Bhaba and Vikram Sarabhai. Starring Jim Sarbh as Bhaba, Ishwak Singh as Sarabhai alongside Rajit Kapoor and Arjun Radhakrishnan essaying Jawaharlal Nehru and APJ Abdul Kalam respectively, the web show deftly presents the dynamic between the scientists in a cinematic fashion along with the political and scientific build-up to the nation’s maiden rocket launch in 1963. The eight-episode web show garnered critical acclaim as Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh’s portrayal of the historical figures were commended for leading the popular ensemble cast and enlivening the Indian scientific community’s achievements in launching the country’s first atomic and space programs.
Shakuntala Devi (2020)
The 2020 Hindi biopic celebrates the legacy of the ‘Human Computer’ Shakuntala Devi. Starring Vidya Balan in the titular role, the biographical drama uniquely narrates the intriguing life story of the Indian mathematician through the lens of her daughter Anupama Banerjee, essayed by Sanya Malhotra. The film is a celebration of a generation of women revolutionizing the scientific realm as it depicts the spirited Shakuntala Devi overcome the barriers in her path to success in what the Guardian reviewed as an “authentically feminist” and “intelligent” manner.
Super 30 (2019)
Starring Hritik Roshan as the Indian educator Anand Kumar, the Hindi-language dramatic biopic commemorates the inspiring story of Kumar and his unique ‘super-30’ educational initiative in Patna in 2002 which selected 30 underprivileged students from economically hindered sections of society and trained them for the JEE examinations. The film is a classic celebration of scientific progress in India as Kumar’s initiative supported several economically weaker students in following their endeavors in the field of science. Despite mixed critical reviews, the film was largely a success as it went on to become one of the highest grossing films of 2019.
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