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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Mayank Shekhar's Review: Rocket Singh

Director keeps things minimalist and subtle to the point of dulling cinematic appeal sometimes. Sure, the pitch is low. The payback is sweetly satisfying for sure, says Mayank Shekhar.

movie-reviews Updated: Dec 12, 2009 12:08 IST
Mayank Shekhar
Mayank Shekhar
Hindustan Times

Rocket Singh
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Gauhar Khan
Direction: Shimit Amin
Rating: ***

The prefix Rocket to Singh in the film’s title, I suspect, has appeared from the usage ‘rocket science’. I’m not certain though, how that line — “This isn’t rocket science” — one of the top 10 irritating phrases in the language, according to an Oxford research, gained such popular currency in our times.

Young Harpreet (Ranbir Kapoor, astonishingly sincere) calls his underground company Rocket Sales Corporation, mainly because at his current workplace, all his colleagues hate him. And they constantly aim ‘paper planes’ at his desk. The new recruit ratted on a corrupt client. He lost the company a contract, and raised for his team their short-term targets.

Theirs is a computer assembling company. Harpreet, 21, fresh out of Mumbai University, with a 39 per cent in B. Com, is possibly their worst salesman. CAT (for an MBA degree) was an option beyond his academic reach. A cold-caller’s sales job is possibly the lowest in the corporate food chain. He fails here too. Humiliated by his seniors — a group with toothy smiles and wily smarts — Harpreet turns into an office mutineer of sorts.

Given the thick Punjabi twang in general at this workplace, the firm, like the film, could have well been placed in New Delhi’s Nehru Place. Mumbai appears an afterthought to the location. The filmmakers largely get the cubicle atmosphere right though: office bickering, cut-throat politics, detracting egos, “get-togethers”…. The setting makes for a realistic, low-budget genre of its own: rarely used in our cinema. The last decent Indian film I can recall of the office space would probably be Prakash Belawadi’s unknown Stumble (2003; Ananth Nag, Suhasini). Americans of course have had their incredible Glengary Glenn Ross, or even Boiler Room (both must-watches). The film’s protagonist and their work-zone remain central to such plots.

And there is an alluring everyman quality to this character Harpreet. He never understood numbers in school. He can barely fathom their significance in salesmanship. Since he proverbially never let school interfere with his education, he can still see humans beyond competitors. He also figures that honestly creating and sharing wealth is the finest premise behind startups and successful enterprises. These values, it is evident, serve capitalism well in the long-run.

Harpreet gets screwed for the time being. He used his office infrastructure and workmates to start a rival to his own firm.
Throughout, narrating his story, the screenwriter with a keenly observant eye (Jaideep Sahni) doesn’t tinker with basic tenets. There is an obstacle in every scene, the point or purpose of which is completely transparent. Like Shimit Amin’s Chak De India, this is an under-dog film.

Yet, the director keeps things minimalist and subtle to the point of dulling cinematic appeal sometimes. This is what hardcore mainstream wallahs will call, for lack of a better description, a “slow film”. It also comes without any songs. Sure, the pitch is low. The payback is sweetly satisfying for sure.

You’d much rather stick with this rare Rocket, than an yearlong racket that goes on in the name of filmmaking in Mumbai. Harpreet’s unique honesty in a sales firm goes well in the context of this film within Bollywood itself!

First Published: Dec 12, 2009 11:45 IST