Making his debut as a director, R Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect has been making headlines, and for reasons more than one. But do you know the Rocketry: The Nambi Effect real story?
A biographical drama is based on the life of the former rocket scientist at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Nambi Narayanan, who was Head of ISRO’s cryogenics division. But what happened in 1994 that changed his life forever? In this edition of movies based on true events, we are looking at the Rocketry: The Nambi Effect real story.
What is the Rocketry: The Nambi Effect real story?
It was 1994, when a high-ranking scientist at ISRO had his life and career changed forever. Scientist Nambi Narayanan was leading the space agency’s cryogenic rocket engine project and obtaining the technology from Russia. This was when he was arrested suddenly one day and then was produced in court and formally arrested.
But what were the charges against him?
He was accused of sharing private information about India’s space programme to two Maldivian nationals, who then allegedly sold the drawings of ISRO’s rocket engines to Pakistan. The media caught on this story pretty fast and nationwide media trials were launched against him, labelling him as a traitor.
Following this, he was kept in judicial custody for 11 days. He was accused of violating India’s secret laws, of corruption, and other offences. In fact, there are several reports that suggest that interrogators had beat him up, handcuffed him to bed and put him under torture under inhuman conditions as he was forced to answer them for close to 30 hours. He was even made to go through lie detector tests but the report was never submitted in court.
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A month after his arrest, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the case from Kerala’s Intelligence Bureau. On January 19, 1995, he was released on bail. The charges against him were dismissed as false by CBI in 1996 and by the Supreme Court of India in 1998. ISRO also conducted an internal investigation and concluded that no drawings of cryogenic engines were missing.
What happened to Nambi Narayanan after this?
After the case was dismissed, Nambi Narayanan started to work for ISRO once again, this time in an admin role. He later sued the Kerala government for framing him and was awarded Rs 50 lakh in compensation. In 2019, the ruling government awarded him another Rs 1 crore as compensation for his illegal arrest and harassment.
The Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’s real story is based on the case where a 76-year-old scientist lost his career and over two decades of his life and academic work. The movie premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2022. It is slated for a theatrical release on July 1, 2022.
Hero Image: Courtesy Screenshot from trailer, Featured Image: Courtesy Insatgram/R Madhavan