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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year

Yashraj Films turns over a desperately-needed leaf with ‘Rocket Singh’,a film with both art and heart.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi |
December 11, 2009 4:36:55 pm

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor,Gauhar Khan,Shazahn Padamsee

Director: Shimit Amin

Rating: ***

Yashraj Films turns over a desperately-needed leaf with ‘Rocket Singh’,a film with both art and heart. The not-so-regular story of a regular guy is seldom told right: here,scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni,director Shimit Amin and lead actor Ranbir Kapoor work in tandem to keep it real and grounded and engrossing.

Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) passes out of college with poor marks,so he decides to go into sales,for when did degrees decree expertise in selling snow to Eskimos? Off he goes,all bright-eyed,to a company which is run by a gorilla who wants results at any cost. Harpreet aka Rocket spends his first few days learning the rules of the game: never,ever,record your real name and address anywhere; never,ever,complain about greedy managers demanding cut-backs; and above all,never,ever,point out to the boss that his ancestry is doubtful,even if you are convinced it is.

The wet-behind-the-ears Rocket’s blooding in salesman-‘giri’ is both amusing and thought-provoking: is this what the guy who shows up at your doorstep with a water purifier,and whom you said no to,goes through back in his office? Being hauled up for low targets,or ridiculed for losing a customer? “Customer ke toh naam mein hi hai ‘mar’”,quips a character,and you can’t help laughing,and wincing.

The re-creation of an office,with all its dirty politics and petty rivalries ,is spot-on. So is the just by-the-way romance of Rocket with a pretty girl (Shazahn Padamsee) who happens to be his first client,and who encouragingly offers him sludgy Maggi noodles right after he fumbles on delivering a crucial bit of information. In her spaghetti dresses and curly hair,she’s as regular as him. So are his partners in crime: a brassy,super-efficient receptionist (Gauhar Khan),a sharp salesman in sharper sideburns,a smart bikini-babe obsessed techie,and an office peon who’s capable of much more.

To begin with,Rocket’s mantra of getting ahead—service before sales — can cause disbelieving smirks: we’ve all suffered no-shows of infuriatingly later service people and lying sellers. But I found myself rooting for this nice guy who wants to take my money and offer me value in return: Kapoor is excellent,never letting his ‘pug’ and very-slight,more off-than-on Punjabi accent overwhelm him; his being a Sardar is incidental,his coming across as a good human who upholds old-fashioned values,is not.

If ‘Rocket Singh’ hadn’t been overly long,helped along by a much too stretched-out confessional passage by the coming-to-his-senses bad boss,it would have been very good indeed. But this is one film you can overlook the length and focus on what it wants to say,and how it says it.

This is also the film which seems to have got a lost-in-the-woods studio back to its real strength: solid story-telling and believable performances,minus the designer bods and empty plots it has of late fallen prey to. Can it be,finally,the second coming of Yashraj?

(shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com)

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