Director: Shimit Amin
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Naveen Kaushik, Mukesh Bhatt, Santosh D, Shazahn Padamsee, Gauahar Khan, Prem Chopra and Manish Chaudhari
Storyline: A simple honest sales trainee does a little con to show the big bad world of sales that you can make it big the right way.
Bottomline: One of the best… if not the best film of the Year!
A good writer is a salesman who sells us characters and also makes us buy the odds they are fighting.
In Khosla Ka Ghosla, Jaideep Sahni convinced the odd-ball middle-class characters, one by one, about a con to beat the land-shark at his own game. In Bunty aur Babli, two middle-class protagonists, conned the rich and corrupt and won fans, one game at a time.
In Chak De India, a middle-class hockey coach, won over the rebels in the team, one by one. We saw that happen again in Aaja Nachle when Sahni got Madhuri Dixit to convince the middle-class small-towners to protect their art and heritage, one at a time.
And now, Sahni makes the sale of his career by showing us how the Great Indian Middle Class values can be employed to bring honesty to the way we make our money, even in the ruthless rat-eat-rat, man-eat-dog world.
No better partner to make this sale than the astute Shimit Amin. Shimit is never too worried about the time he takes to tell his story and gives the characters the space they need to breathe and come alive, even if it means delaying the cut by a few seconds more. He knows exactly when to let expressions do the talking and how to keep us hooked with just dialogue. No heightened melodrama or manipulative music, just people speaking their mind. It’s refreshing how Shimit and Sahni tell us their stories, without ever resorting or needing the song and dance.
As a result, Rocket may not live up to its name as far as pace goes but that’s the point. Let’s slow down, not lose focus and do it the right way – to hell with conventions, tricks and gimmicks to tell a story. The Indian audience didn’t ask for six-packs and size zeros, there are still people who will watch a Ramayan re-run all over again.
For years, our stories have been about doing good and fighting our battles the right way.
Even if it takes off from what Jerry Maguire and his mentor Dicky Fox stood for (“The key to the job is personal relationships”), this film beats with an Indian heart.
Rocket Singh is as intimate and layered as films get.
Yes, Rocket does employ types but when have we had a Sikh hero in our films as an epitome of the ‘Work is Worship’ values the faith stands for? You don’t get a Sikh hero by naming a film Singh is Kingh.
What happens to the spirit of entrepreneurship in a country whose work ethic has been colonised by target-defined competitive MNCs, a country where too many people want to bell the CAT and private MBAs are out of bounds?
Unable to afford an MBA with his 38 per cent aggregate, Harpreet Singh (Ranbir) gets a job at AYS, a company that sells assembled computers founded by the experienced entrepreneur Puri (Manish Chaudhari) and learns that he’s a misfit, too straight for the way business is done.
Suffice to say that Rocket is about a sales trainee selling his work ethic to his boss.
Unlike Ashutosh in Swades, the makers here do not want to take the preachy, idealistic way out. Harpreet Singh is flawed. He does not have the conviction or the courage to quit and start his business fresh from Day One. He’s street-smart and honest but knows he’s doing something fundamentally wrong by floating an undercover company of his own from right under the nose of his parent company.
Ranbir is on a roll and he lives this role that’s sure to be one of his best performances ever. The ensemble is solid. Puri (Manish Chaudhari) is not the villain, the way he does his business is and the actor is a credible embodiment of today’s corporate culture. Naveen Kaushik, Mukesh Bhatt and Santosh D are all equally good that it’s impossible to single any one of them out for best supporting actor. Never have we seen a supporting actress (Gauahar Khan) get more footage than the girl our hero is love with (Shazahn Padamsee).
Like all its publicity, the film makes its case with a refreshing understatement. Only a team with confidence in its sincerity could have done this. The writing is fantastic and that alone merits it a watch. “Aap Jaise Ban Na Saka, Lekin Main Banda Ban Gaya” or “Abhi Tak Ande Si Nikla Nahin, Aur Tujhe Butter Chicken Banna hai?” Seriously, we haven’t seen such beautiful lines laced in lovely Hindi in a while.
So here comes the honest film. Now comes a more pertinent question. What are you going to do when an honest film comes your way?
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I absolutely loved the movie. At a very narrow level, I could so see my superboss in that senior salesman’s role (I hope my superboss can’t track by comment!). I hope it doesn’t go the Lagaan way where every company plays this movie as a corporate management exercise where some smart ass would preach them management lessons from the movie!
But like Sudhish said, the movie is as multi-layered as it could get. Easily the best Hindi movie of the year…
“What are you going to do when an honest film comes your way?”
Cancel all your weekend plans and watch this movie…
Yep..everyone says its a good movie for the sake of saying it…i guess..just because it teaches you good,righteous things? Then make it in a book format…we all read in leisure and learn righteous things and be righteous and feel good.But why make this in visual medium?No enriching visuals…or glamour for a entertainment seeking ‘dry guy’ like me on a weekend late night…! Sad.
I honestly wish they can do a brain scan outside the theatre to decide who they can let in and who they can’t. He he!
he he he…
I loved the movie except the last monologue by Puri which did not make any real sense IMHO. A story well knit and well told
As you’ve said this is indeed a very layered film. But unlike your review of Avatar – which I think is not only your best but the best written on Avatar in any daily newspaper in India – you haven’t got under the skin of Rocket Singh to realise that the film makes you believe that neo liberalism is not only new but it works for all. That such a system can be honest. That it is unlike the crony capitalism of the past in every sense. That people and the paying customers mean one and the same. This can be very misleading for those bearing the cross of post modern corporatism across the country. The mall culture for instance puts the customer at the centre of its business model. To satisfy this buyer with lower costs, it practices economies of scale and squeezes out all competition. I am not saying Singh’s boss is a paragon of virtue. But Rocket Singh is hardly an alternative as the film makes him out to be. In fact, Avatar is a sincere imagination of the future of a world that reposes blind faith in neo-liberalism. Rocket Singh is dangerous precisely because it is endearing. It has to be discussed and debated with all the seriousness due to a film that lends a veneer of respectability to the market system that is accountable only to the customer. Its claim that an employee can be a partner under the new system bears no evidence beyond the IT sector, which does not speak for the economy at large under all circumstances of space and time. Perhaps this is possible only in Hollywood’s and now, Bollywood’s dream factories.
Sure you can admire Avatar, Taare Zameen Par and Rocket Singh as highly entertaining films. But if you have tried peeling the ideological layers off the three films, you can’t be judging them on a similar ideological keel.