In an effort to quell online criticism, actor R Madhavan said on Sunday that claiming the ‘panchang,’ an ancient almanack based on planetary positions, was used by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission was ignorant. Last week, at a promotional event for his upcoming film “Rocketry: The Nambi Effect,” Madhavan stated that the “panchang” has a celestial map of calculations on the positions of planets, how their gravitational forces act, its effects, solar flares, and so on, which was used while working towards inserting the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft into orbit in 2014.

Over the weekend, a video from the event went viral on social media, with many users calling out the actor, prompting Madhavan to tweet: “I deserve it because I dubbed the Almanac the ‘Panchang’ in Tamil. I was extremely ignorant. However, this does not negate the fact that the Mars Mission was accomplished with only two engines. A record in and of itself. @NambiNOfficial Vikas engine is a rockstar (pun intended).”

TM Krishna, a well-known Carnatic vocalist, was among those who criticised Madhavan for his remarks.

In response to the actor’s tweet, Krishna shared a link to the Mars Orbiter Mission profile from ISRO’s official website.

“I’m disappointed that @isro hasn’t posted this critical information on their website… It’s time to think about a Mars Panchangam as well! “the singer penned

A social media user expressed regret that Madhavan had “officially become a whatsapp uncle from a chocolate boy (sic).”

The ISRO launched the low-cost Mars spacecraft from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh in 2013 on a homegrown PSLV rocket to study the Martian surface and mineral composition, as well as scan its atmosphere for methane, an indicator of life on the Red Planet.

In its first attempt, India successfully placed a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2014, joining an elite club of countries with expertise in space technology.

“Rocketry,” Madhavan’s directorial debut, is a biopic about Nambi Narayanan, a former ISRO scientist and aerospace engineer who was falsely accused of espionage.

The film will be released in theatres on July 1.

By Piya

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