Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 11, 2009

Singh is king!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 3:02 am

December 11, 2009

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Prem Chopra, Gauhar Khan, Naveen Kaushik

Direction: Shimit Amin

Like Swades and Lage Raho Munnabhai which came before it, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a film about the importance of basic goodness.

In an industry driven by opening weekends and bumper collections, it’s that oddball film that seldom compromises on its intentions for the sake of becoming more box-office friendly. As a result the film feels too long, indulgent even, and ever-so-often it appears uncinematic.

That’s hardly surprising, considering much of the film is shot in basic office spaces and features long conversations between its characters. But don’t be fooled by its appearance; Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a film with all heart.

Ranbir Kapoor plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, an idealistic young graduate who lands a sales job in a computer firm run by a boss who sets unrealistic targets for his team. His rose-tinted glasses come off early in the day as he watches receptionists being wooed for prompt appointments with busy managers, and security guards being bribed for information on rivals. For his own part, he stays strictly upright, going so far as to file a complaint against a client who wants his palm greased. That act of honesty, however, is rewarded with a demotion.

Convinced that a business can be run clean, Harpreet sets up his own company within the one he works for, roping in a handful of fellow colleagues as partners. Operating honestly and diligently, this team discreetly sets up a thriving business that eventually rivals the one they work for.

Meticulously written by Jaideep Sahni, the genius behind such gems as Khosla Ka Ghosla and Chak De India, the script of Rocket Singh is its real star. Seeking inspiration in real life and real people, the film avoids stereotypes and goes for characters and situations that are refreshingly familiar – the team-leader who fudges conveyance vouchers, the cut-throat competitive co-workers, the porn-surfing maintenance guy, even the promotion-seeking receptionist.

Taking the cue from Sahni’s script, director Shimit Amin bravely resists any temptation to glamorise the world they’ve set the film in, by rooting the drama in a space that is basic and without frills. An office party scene is filmed with colleagues drinking out of plastic cups, loosening their ties and dancing to songs being played out of a computer. Even the film’s opening credits sequence in which the camera lovingly floats over a middle-class home’s bric-a-brac is evidence of the makers’ commitment to authenticity.

But Rocket Singh touches a chord because it’s that rare film that urges us to examine our lives and to question the rules by which we live it. It has a life-affirming quality that will appeal to every one of us who has ever hesitated before taking the easy way over the right way.

The film isn’t without hiccups, though. Overly long, especially in its first half, Rocket Singh suffers on account of sluggish pacing, and occasional indulgences like that unduly stretched-out confession monologue by Harpreet’s boss in the film’s climax.

Remarkable casting has resulted in some fine performances by key players, although even the bit parts are filled out convincingly. D Santosh as the affable maintenance guy, Mukesh Bhatt as the tea-man with computer-repair skills, Naveen Kaushik as the oddly sideburned team head, and Gauhar Khan as the cutting receptionist pitch in commendable performances.

Of course it’s topped off by Ranbir Kapoor’s compelling, effortless portrayal of Harpreet Singh Bedi. Ranbir adds the little touches that make all the difference: combing the beard, tucking in the turban, lifting the ‘kada’ further up his arm before dipping his hand into a bucket of wet clothes. He’s an actor you can’t take your eyes off.

In the end, Rocket Singh is a clean, honest film with noble intentions. It requires patience to appreciate it fully, but deserves a viewing because films like this are hard to find. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five and a thumbs up for director Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year; whatever else you do this weekend, don’t miss this film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

1 Comment »

  1. Perfect

    Comment by Amey — December 23, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

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