Art & Entertainment

Ishwak Singh: ‘Rocket Boys 2’ Is Well-Etched Out And Human, Always Had A Lot Of Faith In It

For Ishwak Singh, who plays Dr Vikram Sarabhai in ‘Rocket Boys 2’, working with Jim Sarbh was like a walk in the park. 

Ishwak Singh as Dr Vikram Sarabhai in 'Rocket Boys 2'

Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Singh were casted brilliantly as celebrated physicists Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai in season one of ‘Rocket Boys’. Now with the show returning with a second instalment, it takes forward the story of Bhabha, who engineered India's nuclear programme and Sarabhai, who established the Indian space programme.

For Ishwak Singh, ‘Rocket Boys’ was something that he always had faith in, and working with Jim Sarbh was like a walk in the park. As the show is already streaming, the actor, in an exclusive chat with Outlook, opened up on his expectations from the series and taking up the role of Dr Sarabhai in its entirety. Excerpts from the interview:

The second season of ‘Rocket Boys’ is out, and fans are loving it. What were your expectations from the upcoming season?

I think it is a long format of storytelling, season two is the next chapter in the lives of these extraordinary men. It is like moving from one chapter of a person’s life to another, where the goals set in the beginning are able to be achieved or not. You get to know about their implications and how it translated for society and the larger population. It’s like the final act. 

Did you really feel that the show would get so much appreciation from all corners? Did you have any apprehensions before taking up the part?

You cannot have apprehensions because it then limits you as an actor, maker and writer. It is about a certain vision and why a maker makes a certain idea. So, as an actor too, you need to have the same intention of wanting to bring forth the character’s voice. In my head, I didn’t have a shaky moment while playing my part, it was all about being in the scene and playing the part as per the whole story. Once the show is out, you can have an objective on how the audience will react to it. Only after that you can tout it as a success because people see it for what it is, and appreciate the intention with which it is made and the choices that the actors too have. I have had a lot of faith in ‘Rocket Boys’.

It cannot go unnoticed that Dr Vikram Sarabhai in the show is flawed, and has his own weaknesses. How did you prepare for such a role?

It would not call it difficult. I did a lot of work on stage where I played historical characters. So you know, with reading too, you kind of know of the times and what people were like. It is all about getting the sense of it all. And for any actor, the script is the bible. If it is well etched-out and detailed, with all the nuances and motivations, it becomes a very human experience. That’s what ‘Rocket Boys’ script is, it is very human, it is relatable. 

Tell us about your camaraderie with Jim Sarbh’s Homi Bhabha, both on screen and offscreen.

It’s sort of great to have a co-actor that you kind of see coming on set, and giving it all with the intention of getting the work done as good as he can. That’s the kind of impact Jim had, so it helps the scene, the characters too. I experienced that with him, both on screen and offscreen, how he was with the crew. There was complete bonding and harmony, so the battle was won for all. If there are actors who inspire you, it’s like a walk in the park.

Do you think OTT provides a platform for actors like you, Jaideep Ahlawat, Pankaj Tripathi, to create a mark, which might be different if you had starred only in films?

I wouldn’t say it wouldn’t have happened, it might have taken a bit longer. OTT has given us all opportunities but who are these people who are making the shows/films? They are the same people. Me, Jaideep, Pankaj sir have not come up with these stories, it’s the makers who have. They would have told the stories, in some way or the other. The OTT was a result of so many stories that had to be told that it became a platform for such narratives. But I can also not rule out that ‘Pataal Lok’, and then ‘Rocket Boys’ had an impact on my career. That cannot be ruled out. 

You have 'Bas Karo Aunty' and the spy thriller 'Berlin' in the pipeline. Any details you can share about them?

There’s a spy thriller by Atul Sabharwal, and Nitesh Tiwari’s film which is ‘Bas Karo Aunty’. I have another show by Emmay Entertainment. It is a supernatural thriller in the horror genre. 

For those caught unversed, ‘Rocket Boys’ is created by Nikkhil Advani and directed by Abhay Pannu. Apart from Sarbh and Singh, it also features Mrinalini Sarabhai (Regina Cassandra), Dr Sarabhai's wife, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (Arjun Radhakrishnan), a pioneer of modern Indian aerospace and nuclear technology, and who would go on to become the President of India, and the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (Rajit Kapur), who backed the scientists.