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Indian film-maker moves to NASA

Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center at Florida in the US generally reverberates to the awesome roar and thunder of huge rockets taking off. But, recently it was echoing to a different type of action – one that involved Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and film technicians who had landed at the space centre to make a blockbuster.

Oscar-nominated Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowarikar and his crew are now back in Mumbai after shooting the final scenes for his latest venture Swades at the Launch Pad 39A, from where the massive Saturn V rockets blasted off to the moon in the late 60s and early 70s.

Gowarikar could have easily opted for the elaborate sets at a film studio but instead chose to shoot at the space centre to add authenticity to the movie. “Ashutosh is the first Indian filmmaker to make a film that required the lead actor to shoot inside Nasa,” said Shah Rukh. He added that they did not have any difficulty in getting permission since Gowarikar is now well-known in the West due to the Lagaan connection.

“There are so many Indians working at Nasa who went out of their way to help us shoot there.” Khan’s character in Swades is a scientist working on an Earth-observing satellite launched on a fictional shuttle mission. Nasa’s next real shuttle mission, STS-114, is scheduled to lift off in 2007. Though quite techno-savvy, the film is not in the sci-fi genre. It is about an NRI who leaves his motherland for greener pastures but rediscovers his roots and returns to his own country.

The film, currently under post-production is slated for release in August, mostly near Independence Day since it has a patriotic theme. Gowarikar said that he decided to shoot at Nasa because it stands for the highest level of technological exploration and everything modern. “I wanted to juxtapose that level of technology and innovation, as opposed to the very fundamental and basic life that we in India are leading,” he added.