|Producer: Aditya Chopra|
Director: Shimit Amin
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Shazahn Padamsee, Sharon Prabhakar, Prem Chopra, Mukesh Bhatt, D. Santosh, Gauahar Khan, Naveen Kaushik and Manish Choudhari
Music: Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 11 December 2009
|Reviewed by: Ankit Ojha - Rating: 8.0 / 10 |
The time has finally arrived. And the acid test has come out for all to see. Oh well, if you're wondering what I'm talking about, or puzzled about what you're reading, I'm basically referring to Ranbir Kapoor and Shimit Amin, who collaborate as actor and director respectively for the movie ROCKET SINGH – SALESMAN OF THE YEAR, which might not have gone on an all-out promotion strategy like Yash Raj has usually done for big-budget movies like New York, the Dhoom franchise, Bachna Ae Haseeno, and the likes – BUT has still generated a whole lot of curiosity value due to two main reasons. Firstly, Ranbir Kapoor's newly-acquired superstar status post the release and response of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani has sent his fans into a frenzy and as a result, people have been eagerly awaiting this movie. Secondly, Shimit Amin's Chak De India being a critical success and a commercial sleeper hit has set the stakes high for him to make an equally, if not more, fantastic movie.
Considering all the above points, does ROCKET SINGH dazzle? Does it impress? Or does it disappoint? Read on to know more.
Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor), a young Sikh, has just graduated, and his grades are nothing to brag about. But it doesn't stop him from launching himself into joining the ambitious, optimistic, burgeoning urban Indian workforce armed with a belief in himself and the great urban Indian career dream.
He enthusiastically takes up a job of a salesman, one of the few career options for those unable to make it to a business or engineering school. But soon, his traditional value system inherited from his grandfather who raised him begins clashing with the aggressive ways of the 'professionals' he aspired to join all his life.
The script and screenplay are usually considered king in Bollywood most of the time. And where the trailers click big-time, the movie always does well only with a good script, no matter what. For Hollywood freaks, it might be a different scenario, where the viewers are in for the special effects (a la the recent Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen
), but in Bollywood, it is the way the story is told that attracts (or detracts, for that matter) the viewer. Coming back to the topic in question, ROCKET SINGH has a rock-solid script that doesn't waver into dumb, enticing-looking subplots that usually spoil the show and the redundant romantic angle that gets slightly irritating for a film that has a genre that should basically not include romance – if not handled well, that is.
But it seems the writer-director combo of Jaideep Sahni and Shimit Amin respectively were quite clear on what they wanted to present to the audience, and they were clear on how they wanted to present it as well – the latter of which is something a lot of writers and directors fail to achieve. Which is why they adopted the "Chak De India"
promotion strategy i.e. almost-no-promotion strategy, to increase the curiosity level. And while the music of ROCKET SINGH didn't have much time to impact the listeners to get curious- it being released only one week before the movie release, that again reminds us of the music of Chak De India
which was also low key before the movie release.
As for the characters of ROCKET SINGH, they have been well-etched and each of the main characters of the movie revolve upon the plot very closely. Even the romance angle of Shazahn Padamse has an important thing to do for some part – romance is only a fleeting subplot that doesn't hold a lot of importance (except for you have a huge grin when you see them together).
It is Ranbir Kapoor's character sketch, though, that completely awes you – subtle, understated and relatable. His character of a Sikh Sardar based in Mumbai totally blows you off your rocker – the nuances and habits that the character has doesn't go over-the-top at all. No excessive Punjabi (the subtle half-Gurmukhi, half-Hindi based Punjabi is left to Prem Chopra), no excessive Bhangra dance and nothing larger-than-life at all. In fact, just like his previous Wake Up Sid
, you can relate yourself to him and his character, so much so that you literally feel for his character.
I'm not really aware of the world of salesmen, but I do know enough to understand the jargon and the atmosphere (sales targets to be achieved, enticing promotions, et al). So I can safely say that Jaideep has actually written a well researched story and script, which doesn't falter at the main atmosphere's technicalities.
Speaking about technicalities, let's move on with the technical aspects of the movie, which are at best, too raw and basic for a film from the banner of the illustrious Yash Raj Films. Yet they work for those exact reasons because this film isn't shot in exotic locations places, hasn't covered the glitziest locales, doesn't have picture-perfect cinematography, doesn't have fast cars, hot babes, fast editing, eclectic motion graphics et al. In fact, the title sequence at the start of the movie is so simple you wonder if this really is a Yash Raj film! But then again for a film brimming with reality, why bother to make the technicalities dramatic? So although it may look ordinary, the movie really is technically perfect and impactful.
Sound-wise, the duo of Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant has given both the music and the background score of the movie, and they have done pretty decently, considering the situation of the film. The song "Gadbadi Hadbadi" might not work as a standalone audible track, but surely sets the screen on fire (and no, it's not a lip-synced track either!) with the situation that it completely gels with. And whilst "Pocket Mein Rocket" was sorely missing as part of the end credits, one doesn't mind. It is "Pankhon Ko" that impacts the viewer. While the song has been used twice in the movie, it doesn't bother the viewer, because the situations are perfect for it! And the sensitivity that the scenes exude with the song playing (one at the title credits, which sets base for the movie), especially in the penultimate moments, will have you feeling half-happy, and half-sad. Telling you more will yet again divulge too much of the story so you will have to go and see it for yourself.
I cannot continue with the performances before talking about Ranbir Kapoor, who keeps improving in each movie, and how! Just like Saawariya
and Bachna Ae Haseeno
had him acting his most amazing first lead acts ever, Wake Up Sid
gave him worldwide recognition for playing a slacker before his Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani
that gave him the status of a superstar! So what is ROCKET SINGH for him you ask? It is a stepping stone for him to elevate his status even further. He totally slips into the title character of Harpreet Singh Bedi with utmost ease – in fact, he lives the character.
Shazahn Padamsee actually impresses with her short but sweet role. She is a natural, and has the potential to make it big, THOUGH it would be her decision to choose her own path in the future. Others in the cast have done amazingly well too. Mukesh Bhatt (not the producer) has done amazingly well as the peon, Chotelal "Cup-Plate" Mishra. Gauhar Khan as the receptionist is efficient and plays her role to the hilt. The bold and brash attitude in the role she plays comes alive with her performance. D. Santosh as the po*n-hogging computer genius is amazingly hilarious and has played his part really well. Naveen Kaushik, who plays Nitin, is realistically efficient.
Any weaknesses you ask? Well predictability never goes out of fashion in Bollywood, does it? But although the situations are predictable in this movie, the point is, such situations keep repeating themselves in real life and that's why we can predict them on-screen. Consequently for ROCKET SINGH, predictability doesn't hamper the motive and the execution of the film overall – it only makes the movie increase its 'raw' quotient, thus increasing the charm. So while some people might accusingly point fingers at the slow pace in the first half of the film and it's sheer predictability in some situations, this movie is all about life, so predictability cannot be ignored!
Overall, ROCKET SINGH is a very well written, well-scripted and well-executed movie, the strength of which lies in its extreme understatement, simplicity and subtle attitude; coupled with that addictive charm that was also present in Chak De India. This one has already proved it's worth by being part of the Dubai International Film Festival – now whether it gets to prove itself at the box-office will be seen in the days to come. So empty the rockets (money) in your pocket and go watch it right now!