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How Maddy added realism to reel ‘Nambi’

Actor R Madhavan refrained from using prosthetics while playing S. Nambi Narayanan. Read on to know how he got into the shoes of the former ISRO scientist and donned a director’s hat…

Actor R Madhavan’s (Maddy), for upcoming film Rocketry – The Nambi Effect, has transformed himself as the former ISRO scientist S. Nambi Narayanan’s doppleganger. His transformation might look as a bed of roses, but the actor says getting into the scientist’s shoes wasn’t easy. Unlike other films, where actors use prosthetics to get wrinkled up, the Vikram Vedha-actor refrained from choosing this path. He realistically transformed himself as an 80-year-old man.

From changing his jaw structure and even twisting one of his teeth in a different direction, the actor did it all. He explains, “I twisted my tooth to allow my jaw structure to change. A changed jaw structure can make a person look different and also impacts age.”

The actor also gained weight, grew beard and coloured his mane grey, among other things, as part of this transformational journey.

A screen grab of a flabbed R Madhavan. The actor gained weight as part to play Nambi.

Maddy’s move to refrain from the use of prosthetics had nothing to do with the money involved in the making of the film. The actor, in fact, took upon himself to make people aware about the scientist’s real story.

“Had I used prosthetics, people would have related its use with the storyline and assumed that the story is also fake. I don’t want that, at any time in the film, anyone should say that what we are showing is fake,” he said.

Changing his physical features was just one of the aspects. Maddy also understood the nuances of rocket science.

“I learnt how a real rocket engine looks and works. A real one looks like a diamond jewellery. It is so clean and polished but when it's switched on, it makes the loudest voice,” he said.

Rocketry – The Nambi Effect showcases Nambi’s journey from being falsely accused of espionage and being proved not guilty by the Supreme Court and the impact it had on his life.

Maddy has directed, produced and written the film. When asked if he found being directing a rocket science, the actor said, that he didn't face any difficulties while making the film.

“When we were looking for the producer for the film, no one came forward as the film does not have any heroine and songs. That’s when I thought to produce and direct it. ,” he said.

The actor heard about the scientist’s story in 2016. He thought that it was the role that could give him a break as a James Bond.

“I heard about the story of a handsome ISRO scientist having an affair with a Maldivian woman. And that while they were together, the scientist shared the secrets related to rocketry with the woman. I also came to know that this did not went well with the scientist as he was arrested, and beaten. But was released as he was proved innocent. His story excited me and I thought that doing a film on his life would give me the break in the James Bond repertoire.

R Madhavan (right) with Nambi Narayanan. PC: Instagram

However, when he first met Nambi in real life, he understood that there was more to his story than what the actor knew.

He shared, “When I took the script to Nambi sir, he had an angry look in his eyes. He was looking for answers to his fateful experience of being shammed as a traitor who sold the country’s rocketry-related secrets. With tears in his eyes, he shared his story with me. That’s when I realised that there’s more to him than his good looks and that the script had to be reworked. This film focuses on his journey as a scientist, which we had initially not included.”

Maddy then spent two and a half years on research. In this time, he visited the Princeton University and also the places where Nambi did experiments. He later used the data in recreating the scenes in the film. This took him time. But as the film was ready in 2020, the pandemic delayed its release. Maddy wanted to release the film in theatres instead of an OTT platform.

Rocketry – The Nambi Effect is slated for release in theatres on July 1 in English, Tamil and Hindi. The film does is sans dubbing. It is shot in eight countries and shows a timeline of 50 years in Nambi’s life. The supporting cast includes Rajit Kapur, Ravi Raghavendra, Gulshan Grover, Karthik Kumar, Misha Ghoshal, Dinesh Prabhakar and Mohan Raman, among others.

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