Rocket Singh: The Task of Zero Monday, 14 December, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Gauhar Khan, Jaideep Sahni, Mukesh Bhatt, Mumbai, Nitin Rathore, office, politics, Prem Chopra, Raghav Lawrence, Ranbir Kapoor, Rocket Singh, Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year, Shazahn Padamsee, Shimit Amin
This review was first published on PFC. [link]
I had a great weekend with three good movies after a long long time. The movies were Paa, Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year and Chalo Let’s Go (a Bangla film by Anjun Dutt).
All the three movies had an intrinsic feel-good humane factor on them and I thought of writing about the film I could associate the most with, (probably like many others) – Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year !
Rocket Singh is a movie about work culture in Indian offices and its conflict with individual aspirations. Before seeing the movie, I have read that every good reviewer, who has seen Boiler Room or Glengarry Glen Ross (I have not seen this one) can’t refrain from mentioning them on the context. After seeing the movie I can understand why.
Rocket Singh is not the first film to be made on the subject of dirty office politics, unethical business policies, honesty and values- we have Bhandarkar’s unbelievably melodramatic Corporate, which was more like a soap (in a laundry, pun intended). Then we have subtle humane treatment of the subject in classics like Sai Paranjpye’s Katha (1983) which showcases the different paths chosen by the protagonists in the workplace, amazingly portrayed by Farookh Sheikh and Nasiruddin Shah. Rocket Singh scores somewhere in between. The term ‘Rocket’ also reminds me of one of my delhiwala colleague who often used the term ‘this is no rocket science’. Indeed it is not, to make a movie worth watching.
The plot premise and characters are fairly practical thought not exactly convincing enough to plug the intriguing missing links. A nice serious looking young surd, Harpreet Singh, is an academically challenged fresh graduate living with his grandpa (Prem Chopra- adorably impressive and snug). On his first interview with a company in the business of assembled PCs, his efforts are noticed by the company chief and he is immediately hired as a salesman. Various characters emerge in the scene- a stone faced bitchy (and compensating-ly sexy) receptionist, a sales boss with weird side burns and mush, a no nonsense well networked top boss, a perpetually horny Hyderabadi IT geek, an underdog timid Peon and a bunch of target driven salesmen, always biting others back and throwing rockets to our man, Harpreet. Soon enough, conflicts surface, bubbles of illusions burst by pins of reality and the characters gets stitched into a fairy tale like storyline where the line between dishonesty and retribution is blurred, (in typical Jaideep Sahani panache demonstrated earlier in his Khosla Ka Ghosla) to a desirable, dramatic and outspoken climax with an age old ‘moral of the story’. It’s like Panchatantra, retold.
What I liked in this movie is definitely the characters and the superb cast. Standing ovation to Abhimanyu Ray for one of the best assembled cast and Director Shimit Amin for getting delightfully enjoyable performances out of them. Sample the motley crew (not in any order of though)-
Ranbir Kapoor as Harpreet Singh Bedi is calm, innocent, honest and thus vulnerable, yet firm. Not an easy combo to find, these days. He represents the work force of common man which runs the machinery with their sweat and wipes it with their tie. Basically, a ‘zero guy’ who makes it big and fast.
As I mentioned earlier, Prem Chopra as P.S. Bedi is a surprise treat in a short role.
Girish Reddy aka Giri (D.Santosh) – The horny Hyderabadi, who sleeps in the office when not watching swimsuit babes. Curly hair, droopy eyes, wicked grin, genuine lingo and bankable attitude- surely one of the notable performances in the movie.
Shazahn Padamsee as Sherena reminds me of Juhi Chawla in her Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman days. She looks fresh and does whatever she was supposed to in her minuscule role. However minuscule role doesn’t necessarily need miniscule dresses, the director may note. Or is it that leg-piece defines the quality of a debut chic?
Chhotelal Mishra (Mukesh Bhatt)- this guy was great in Gulaal, good to see he is getting bigger roles to portray his talent. I am sure he is of the same caliber of the underrated actors like Vijay Raaz and Sanjay Mishra.
Nitin Rathore (Naveen Kaushik)- this guy definitely reminded me of Van Diesel in Boiler Room. Sharp, smart, penetrative and sadistic to colleagues- an ideal salesman! Wish his make up was better.
Koena (Gauhar Khan, Sister of Negar Khan) – stern front office lady with a twisted humour quotient.
Boss Puri (Manish Chaudhary)- little over dramatized of the lot and definitely not the best make up example with that artificial mush.
However, there are aspects of the film which I didn’t like.
The body language, characteristics, lingo of the people doesn’t fit Mumbai. Any Mumbai salesman worth his second class season ticket will vouch for that. No salesman travels from Mira Road to Nariman point in a scooter. That happens in Delhi. The boss Puri is just out of a Nehru Place or a Lajpat Nagar office, not a Grand road guy. The PC parts vendor Lalwani looks more like a Chandni Chowk guy. Overall, the premise screams of a Delhi flavour, which seems to be forced as Mumbai, for unexplained reasons.
Some parts of the script are just loose. I did think about some inevitable questions-
Which part of Mumbai were Harpreet staying? ( like KKG was very clear on the locality)
Why is Harpreet Singh staying with his grandpa? Why there’s no mention of his parents, even once?
How did Harpreet afford to drink in plush lunge bars with his friends?
What business was Sherena and her partner into?
How can you make a convincing Mumbai movie without traffic jam, trains, cutting chai, rains and atleast the Fiat cabs?
How can a sales office function without mobile phones? Which year are we talking about?
Why there’s nothing in the name of office security?
Not probing deep, I think the writing should have been little for convincing and less fairy tale like.
Finally, the dialogues were more like Abbas-Mastan type, stressing on cheesy one-liners and weird analogies.
‘Risk to Spiderman ko bhi lena pdta hai, hum to salesman hai’, is it good enough to be used many times in the movie?
The title song pocket mein Rocket was absent in the movie, which was a disappointment for me.
However, there are many more laugh out loud moments, pleasant detailing and well crafted sequences to enjoy, than nitpicking on minuses. Rocket Singh definitely rocks and sings better than the consistently inferior celluloid nautanki, we get to see otherwise.
So, thumbs up to Rocket Sales Corporation and its partners and middle finger to big guys of the industry.