Who could have ever imagined a link between the US space shuttle and an indie Indian movie?
The Malayalee maestro, Santosh Sivan, mentioned recently in an email that his film Before the Rains (which is releasing in India in May) was actually carried into space by astronaut Steve Swanson aboard the shuttle Discovery on its March voyage, and he attached the above photo. My first reaction was “No way! This has to be some kind of a joke!”
But no, it is indeed fact.
It turns out the executive producer, Ashok Rao, is a Houston resident and has close ties to NASA, and it was he who gave the DVD to Swanson. The astronaut had hoped to attend the Houston premiere of Before the Rains last year but was in training for the space flight and couldn’t be there. That photo forwarded by Sivan was actually snapped by Swanson onboard the Discovery shuttle, as the DVD floats in the weightless environment. Now that he’s back on terra firma and once he’s completed his quarantine and debriefing, Swanson will be returning the disc to Rao, embellished with the signatures of all seven of the Discovery astronauts.
While in Houston for the premiere, Linus Roache (who stars in Before the Rains, as well as the TV series Law and Order) was permitted into the astronaut training facility and had a chance to watch the seven going through their rigorous weightlessness paces.