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Last Updated 21.02.2024 | 4:32 PM IST
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EXCLUSIVE: Rocket Boys team Jim Sarbh, Saba Azad, Nikkhil Advani, Abhay Pannu talks about Emmy honour and censorship: “The biggest success for us was that none of us ever thought that it would work”

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Rocket Boys team Jim Sarbh, Saba Azad, Nikkhil Advani, Abhay Pannu talks about Emmy honour and censorship: “The biggest success for us was that none of us ever thought that it would work”

The team of the acclaimed web show Rocket Boys – actors Jim Sarbh and Saba Azad, producer Nikkhil Advani and director Abhay Pannu – were in their element as they spoke exclusively to Bollywood Hungama just before their session at the Bollywood Hungama’s two-day OTT India Fest. The foursome was excited as Jim had been nominated at the 51st International Emmy Awards and are all set to head to New York for the event on November 20, 2023.

EXCLUSIVE: Rocket Boys team Jim Sarbh, Saba Azad, Nikkhil Advani, Abhay Pannu talks about Emmy honour and censorship: “The biggest success for us was that none of us ever thought that it would work”

Nikkhil, congratulations on the Emmy Awards honour. As a producer, what are your thoughts?
Nikhil Advani: I am going just to carry their bags! These two (Abhay and Jim) are going to be honoured. I’ll simply carry their bags. Maybe, by chance, I might click a photograph on the red carpet (smiles).

Jim Sarbh (laughs): Everyone needs a point of contact while you are there. Their point of contact is me. I’ll be receiving all the messages and coordinating with everyone!

Abhay Pannu: I just came back from my visa interview. I was asked, ‘So, have you been nominated?’. I replied, ‘No. The actor has been nominated’.

Nikkhil Advani: We are there to party and to have fun!

Abhay Pannu: I am going there to clap. I am very excited to go and clap for everybody (laughs)!

Nikkhil, what’s the secret to your success? All your shows, be it Rocket Boys or Mumbai Diaries 26/11 or Adhura, are worth it and have been loved…
Nikkhil Advani: I think the biggest success for us, at least when it comes to Rocket Boys, was that none of us ever thought that it would work. We were just having fun and enjoying ourselves. I get into trouble by saying that the pandemic was good for us as it allowed us to write a lot. It allowed Jim and Abhay to discover their frequency. They kept working on the script. You can’t do the scenes that he has done of Homi Bhabha simply by good writing. That’s just the first step. I remember I used to get frustrated because they would send me the script in the morning. In the evening, Jim and Abhay would meet and by night, a new version would have come up! That is evident when you see their work. Abhay’s background in theatre and engineering also came in handy.

Jim Sarbh: He’s modest. What we have experienced and will continue to experience is that the team at Emmay Entertainment wants to support interesting, fascinating and different kinds of stories where the heroes are not what we conventionally consider heroes such as scientists or doctors. It is funny that I am saying this. As I say this, I realized that these are always the heroes. Yet, somehow, they are not.

Nikkhil Advani: Even mothers are heroes (referencing his film Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, which was about a mother’s fight, and which featured Jim as a lawyer)!

Jim Sarbh: Even mothers. A lot of these are inspired by true stories. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Their stories are such that they have had a huge cultural impact on society in general. I like it.

EXCLUSIVE Rocket Boys team Jim Sarbh, Saba Azad, Nikkhil Advani, Abhay Pannu talks about Emmy honour and censorship “The biggest success for us was that none of us ever thought that it would work”

Nikkhil, just before your session, there was a session on censorship. It was discussed that nowadays, scripts are sent to legal teams before getting greenlit. You have made Rocket Boys on real-life incidents and characters. How tough was it for you?
Nikkhil Advani: I think it’s a sweeping statement that all scripts are sent to a legal team and they vet it. If Abhay is writing a script which is fictional, I don’t need to send it to any kind of team. It depends on what the subject matter is and whether it has its basis in reality. Will people get offended? So, you need to know what are the guardrails that you are required to work within when you are doing something that could be deemed to be sensitive. When we decided to do Rocket Boys, we knew that we were going to tell the story of the Sarabhai family. They are a very respected family even today in Ahmedabad. We spoke to them and got them on board. They were the first ones to see the show as well. The same happened with Batla House and Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway. When we finished working on Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, we showed it to Sagarika Chakraborty.

Abhay, during the Chandrayaan-3 mission, it was heartening to see people remembering Rocket Boys. Did that make you happy?
Abhay Pannu: Of course. But people messaged me as if I had played a part in Chandrayaan (laughs)! The good thing was that we were able to re-acquaint people with the contributions of Dr Sarabhai and Dr Bhabha. In that context, people knew of Chandrayaan a little more. That makes you feel that you have done your part well; you have made people aware of who these gentlemen were and their contributions. In short, we are still reaping its benefits.

Saba, you started with films but on digital, you have left a huge mark. How has been your journey in the OTT world?
Saba Azad: It’s been lovely. It’s given an opportunity to so many actors who were not getting the opportunities they wanted. The scale of cinema is large. A lot of money is riding on it. Hence, it was just restricted to actors who could pull that kind of audience to theatres. Now that element is taken away and we see so many amazing actors shining who earlier never got their due. OTT is a brilliant thing for actors and technicians alike as a lot of work is happening.

Saba, can we see you again on the big screen?
Saba Azad: Yes. 2 of my films are in post-production. I am dubbing for one.

Abhay, what next?
Abhay Pannu: I have been writing a film for a year. Hopefully, it’ll go on floors in 2024. He (Nikkhil Advani) should be the best person to answer it as he’ll be bankrolling it! There’s also another film that Jim and I want to work on together. It’s a subject close to our hearts. We are still trying to figure out the rights to the film.

Is it again a real story?
Yes. It’s a very intimate story.

So, no web shows for a while?
If these projects don’t work out, then maybe (I’ll have to go back to making web shows)!

Jim, what about you? What next?
Jim Sarbh: There’s Pune Highway. I will be shooting for Sach Is Life in the USA with Kirti Kulhari. It’s about a kid who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Some short films that I shot for will be shown at the Jio MAMI Film Festival.

What about Made In Heaven Season 3? Season 2 ended at a significant juncture…
I have no idea.

Also Read: Bollywood Hungama OTT India Fest Day 2: Saba Azad REVEALS she was initially rejected for The Rocket Boys; says, “They said I looked too young”


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