The scene above is from a 1959 East-German/ Polish science-fiction film variously known as Silent Star or The First Spaceship On Venus. It was released when man had not yet stepped on the Moon, and independent India’s first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was still in office.
Nehru’s famous jacket, topee and persona is sported by one of the leading characters of this film, based loosely on a work by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. The resemblance of fictional ”Indian mathematician” Professor Sikarna to Pandit Nehru is unmistakable:
There are more than a couple of women wearing sarees in that control room.
In the initial shots Professor Sikarna is shown deciphering an alien recording on the Tunguska meteorite. Subsequently he conducts his mathematical analysis aboard the spaceship to Venus. Normally this consists of sitting at some strange digital machine and running his fingers over it like a pianist.
His mood is foul throughout, for some inexplicable reason.
The movie itself has a juvenile script, and terrible direction, even Stanislaw Lem reportedly hated it. But as a historical document of international relations and India’s scientific image, I think this film is invaluable.