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December 11, 2009

REVIEWS - Rocket Singh - Salesman of the Year (Taran Adarsh, Raja Sen, Rajeev Masand, Nikhat Kazmi, Khalid Mohd., Baradwaj Rangan)



Taran Adarsh -


Some films absorb you instantly, from the very outset. But it takes time to get into the world of a salesman who thinks from his heart.

Come to think of it, ROCKET SINGH - SALESMAN OF THE YEAR is about a simpleton, but the story of his struggle and accomplishment isn't the kind that would charge you or make you charter a similar path in life. Also, the story of an underdog who comes up the hard way should make you feel euphoric in the end, right? But ROCKET SINGH - SALESMAN OF THE YEAR doesn't.

Frankly, ROCKET SINGH - SALESMAN OF THE YEAR is more of a documentary on the life of a salesman. It's a decent film, no two opinions on that, but the question is, [a] Is the story powerful enough to excite you and [b] Does it grab your attention in entirety? Sadly, the answer to both the questions is in the negative.

There's another problem and this is strictly from the point of those seeking entertainment. A Yash Raj film with Ranbir Kapoor [after AJAB PREM KI GHAZAB KAHANI] essaying the title role, coupled with fun-filled promos ['Pocket Mein Rocket Hain'] might make you assume that it would offer loads of entertainment, but this has barely a song or two, as good as no romance and hardly any comic moments - the recipe for most Hindi movies.

In a nutshell, ROCKET SINGH - SALESMAN OF THE YEAR is a dull and dry experience.

Harpreet Singh Bedi [Ranbir Kapoor] has just graduated and his marks are, well, let's say a little embarrassing. But marks never stopped him from dreaming of an exciting and adventurous career, and they never will.

He takes a deep, positive breath and dives into the world of sales, rumoured to be an ultra cool career. It's everything he dreamt of, with its smooth dressing, smoother talking men and women who can sell ice to an Eskimo, dreams to an insomniac and a lifetime mobile connection to a dying man. But soon, his idea of success begins clashing with the strange ways of these 'professionals' and 'bosses' he looked up to.

ROCKET SINGH - SALESMAN OF THE YEAR may be based on a simpleton's life, but the viewer gets a hang of things only towards the second hour. The entire first hour is devoted to establishing the characters and also getting used to the way sales persons go about their business.

There's not much excitement in the first hour, barring a few attention-grabbing scenes that pop up intermittently. The story just flows, with the viewer not reacting much to the proceedings. But things change for better towards the post-interval portions when the protagonist and his colleagues' lives get complicated.

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14 comments:

Caulfield said...

"but this has barely a song or two, as good as no romance and hardly any comic moments - the recipe for most Hindi movies. "

Hahahahaha. Does he intentionally add such funny lines in his review!!!!

Caulfield said...

Rajeev Masand on twitter -

Whatever else you do this weekend, make it a point to watch Rocket Singh.

Caulfield said...

Raja Sen on Twitter -

Rocket verdict: flies good.
Grabbing hold of Jaideep Sahni is the single smartest thing YashRaj Films have done since Silsila.

Caulfield said...

Raja Sen Review -

How in the world does Jaideep Sahni do it? Really, how? At a time when our cinema attempts to either be shampoo-commercial glossy or marijuana-rolling edgy, the ace screenwriter hammers out his work with a stark neatness, a stoic tidy that stands out amidst both the varnished and the handheld.

And when we see such unspectacular triumphs as Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year, it is clear that mere nails and efficiency aren't what hold them together: like his latest leading man, Sahni sells because he believes.

As said, Shimit Amin's [ Images ] film is an unspectacular one. And it's quite hard to express just how bloody refreshing that is. Comfortable in its own skin, the film never tries too hard, and while it takes a little while to really get going, it completely eschews glitz and bling -- never an easy thing to do, moreso considering the hero's the hottest property in town since a certain Mr Khan moved to Bombay and stammered obsessively -- and does its own thing, nice and easy.

Ranbir Kapoor plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, a lanky Sikh who struggled through his college marksheet and is now ready to sell. Armed with more than his fair share of enthusiasm, the good-natured lad finds himself in a trainee job in a ruthlessly competitive officeful of computer-selling sharks. Harpreet watches, wide eyed, as targets are met and chowkidars are bribed, but the morally staunch boy raised by his grandfather can't quite stomach high-stakes skullduggery, and before he knows it, he trips over his own goofy grin.

The rest is right up Jaideep's alley, a tale of justice a la Jeffrey Archer, a tale that involves entrepreneurship, scruples, profit-sharing and friendship, and the writer-director duo let it unfold gradually, with such warm geniality that Jerry Maguire'd jump at the chance of working in our sincere sardar's Rocket Sales. Predictable to a degree, certainly, but some films are such an easy watch that you consciously avoid second-guessing the filmmakers, you don't want to predict what happens three scenes later.

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Caulfield said...

Nikhat Kazmi -

Somewhere down the film, deep in the midst of his downward slide into ignominy and despair, his friends try to console oddball salesman Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) by telling him he's a nice guy, unfit for the unethical corporate jungle out there. But, mice are nice, scoffs HP, hating his own niceness and mousy inconsequence.

Poor HP. Doesn't he know nice guys always do finish first. Specially in a new world which has cried Yes, we can to a post-Lehman world order; and a new India that has embraced a similar mantra of change in both governance and the level of public tolerance. Indeed, Rocket Singh, scripted brilliantly by Jaideep Sahni, documents the new India we are currently seeing emerging before our eyes. One, where the common man is increasingly voicing his condemnation for both political and corporate corruption. Also, one where the consumer (read aam aadmi ) is truly king and vfm (value for money) is the only usp (unique selling proposition).

So, don't be bogged down by the slow pace and the docu-feature feel of the first half of Rocket Singh. Be patient and you'll end up realising this could be well be one of the most intelligent films of the year, showcasing the changing pulse of a nation that is learning to sift the grain from the chaff, the rubble from the concrete, the diamonds from the ashes. The film does take long -- laboriously long -- to introduce its characters and build up the plot which focuses on the travails of an honest-to-god, stars-in-my-eyes salesman who joins a computer firm, only to be taken aback at the first bribe that's demanded of him. Aap mazaq kar rahen hai , (you're joking) he tells the company manager who wants a kickback and files a complaint against him in the suggestions & complaints box. End result? He becomes a mazak in his own company, having been sent to the dog house and given his marching orders at the end of his training period. But there's an important lesson failure Harpreet has learnt from him wily manager, Nitin-with-the-natty-sideburns (excellent act) during is first sales demo. Even Spiderman has to take a risk, and you're just a puny salesman, his smart alec boss tells him as he pockets a fresh contract by hook or by crook.

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Doga said...

Ranbir Kapoor will make a Hattrick.

Superstar by the end of the year.

Caulfield said...

Yeah agreed Doga.

What an year for Ranbir!!!! Glad he has removed that YRF Bachna Ae Haseeno image and although is working for them and Dharma is trying something different each time and proving his versatility.

Caulfield said...

Rajeev Masand -

Like Swades and Lage Raho Munnabhai which came before it, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a film about the importance of basic goodness.

In an industry driven by opening weekends and bumper collections, it's that oddball film that seldom compromises on its intentions for the sake of becoming more box-office friendly. As a result the film feels too long, indulgent even, and ever-so-often it appears uncinematic.

That's hardly surprising, considering much of the film is shot in basic office spaces and features long conversations between its characters. But don't be fooled by its appearance; Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a film with all heart.

Ranbir Kapoor plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, an idealistic young graduate who lands a sales job in a computer firm run by a boss who sets unrealistic targets for his team. His rose-tinted glasses come off early in the day as he watches receptionists being wooed for prompt appointments with busy managers, and security guards being bribed for information on rivals. For his own part, he stays strictly upright, going so far as to file a complaint against a client who wants his palm greased. That act of honesty, however, is rewarded with a demotion.

Convinced that a business can be run clean, Harpreet sets up his own company within the one he works for, roping in a handful of fellow colleagues as partners. Operating honestly and diligently, this team discreetly sets up a thriving business that eventually rivals the one they work for.

Meticulously written by Jaideep Sahni, the genius behind such gems as Khosla Ka Ghosla and Chak De India, the script of Rocket Singh is its real star. Seeking inspiration in real life and real people, the film avoids stereotypes and goes for characters and situations that are refreshingly familiar – the team-leader who fudges conveyance vouchers, the cut-throat competitive co-workers, the porn-surfing maintenance guy, even the promotion-seeking receptionist.

Taking the cue from Sahni's script, director Shimit Amin bravely resists any temptation to glamorise the world they've set the film in, by rooting the drama in a space that is basic and without frills. An office party scene is filmed with colleagues drinking out of plastic cups, loosening their ties and dancing to songs being played out of a computer. Even the film's opening credits sequence in which the camera lovingly floats over a middle-class home's bric-a-brac is evidence of the makers' commitment to authenticity.

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Caulfield said...

Khalid Mohd. -

Oho, here’s a quote room drama. Everyone, including micro-minor characters drop the kind of dialogue you could only hear in the movie-shovies. Some gems:
*“In business you shouldn’t be counting numbers, you should be counting people, strictly people.”
*“Out here you can either go up..or down” (whoa, what a thought)
*“What nice nice! Mice are nice also.” (oh?)
*“You taught me so many things in life but you forgot to teach me dishonesty.”
That’s story-screenplay-lyric-dialogue writer Jaideep Sahni working far too strenuously for director Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. The ouchcome is a laboured, old-fashioned harangue about why honesty is the best policy, which even revives that defunct moment of a corporation’s honcho chucking wads of Rs 500 for a bribe. Cursed be this tribe, say Shimin and Co, as if they had recently discovered that the world isn’t either pancake flat or yummily utopian.
Indeed the plot – which has shades of the Raj Kapoor movie Shriman Satyawadi (1960) and Hollywood’s The Boiler Room (2000) – is so naïve that you wonder if Sahni and Amin need to get out of the Yashraj Studio Fantasyland and understand that there are no free munchies in this town. Or any town.
Which is why their hero, Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor), appears to a cute but ultimately clueless clown. Frown. With lousy graduation marks, he still hopes to find immediate employment. And hallelujah, he does, as a computer salesboy who’s immediately assigned a desk near the loo, and hoo-hoo teased by all of his colleagues, behaving like hyenas out of hell. Oh well.
The hyena gang chucks paper rockets at him (you worry about the wastage of tree resources), his supervisor wears a weird Salvador Dali-like beard, and the oily top boss calls him a “zero” and “a bastard” till you want a messianic stunt director to arrive and bash up Boss Oily. Cluck, no such luck.
Logic would have enticed our Cutepreet to resign, snag a job at a call centre perhaps (a friend even suggests that), but no our self-pitying hero insists that he must suffer like a duffer. Otherwise there would be no film…which stretches on and on and on for 16 reels, uninterrupted even by entertainment relief points. No dance, no romance, no (real) song, no tension, you’re mostly locked up in that stifling office which ranges from the plush to the unbelievably grungy (please note the electricity dashboard). Odd.
Next: Cutepreet teams up with the more accommodating office log to initiate a parallel computer-selling trade. Soon they’re rocketing. Upset by his plummeting sales, Boss Oily is seething-snapping-scowling. Growling. Now get this. Cutepreet insists that he’s only borrowing the office facilities and intends to pay Oily some day, complete with interest. Commit a crime now, repent later.

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DrishtiKona said...

This is a refreshingly different movie which keeps you entertained. Watched the movie today, and loved it. What works for the movie is perfect casting. Ranbir Kapoor has essayed the lead role very well, and the supporting cast is equally good.

Shimit Amin proves once again that he knows his craft.

Go and watch it, if you have not already done so :-)

Caulfield said...

Planning to see it sometime soon. :)

Caulfield said...

Baradwaj Rangan Review -

SELL CULTURE

Shimit Amin, once again, makes a charming, minor-key movie about material that might have been better served belted out with brassy energy.

IT’S PROBABLY NOT MUCH OF A STRETCH for an actor to play a salesman, for what is acting if not snake-oil salesmanship, the peddling of the patently absurd notion that the same off-screen person is any number of different people on screen? Even the tools of the actor and the salesman are the same – wheedling charm, hoodwinking wiles, never-say-die perseverance, stoic powers of persuasion, an utter lack of shamelessness – and few actors working today would appear better suited to playing a salesman than Ranbir Kapoor. It’s not that I think he’s a bad actor. He’s an appealing screen presence, and he undoubtedly possesses the basic skill-set to portray your garden-variety, yuppie, mainstream-movie hero. But his performances, so far, have had a puppy-eyed single-mindedness in overselling himself to his audience. Almost every gesture has been a tad overwrought, every line reading a mite overdone, every charming move a wee bit over-calculated to ensure that we keep renewing our AMCs for the product that’s his persona.

So it’s certainly ironic that the most unvarnished, underplayed performance of his young career comes in a film where he opts for a profession that’s typically dominated by shrill hucksters. In Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, Ranbir plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, a Commerce graduate who just about scraped through his exams. In a beauty of an opening scene, he sits in front of his computer, scanning his college web site for his name, and when he realises he hasn’t flunked out, he doesn’t do what he’d do in another movie, which is to pump a fist in the air and rush out, with whoops of joy, to lift up his protesting grandfather (a completely charming Prem Chopra). Harpreet just leans back in his chair, digesting this most minor of achievements – and it takes a few seconds for a smile to light up his face. Even later, in a badly miscalculated scene where he’s ragged by juvenile colleagues at work, he doesn’t retaliate, choosing instead to suffer like a silent satyagrahi. Like Shah Rukh Khan’s sports coach in Amin’s earlier Chak De India, Harpreet is the very embodiment of Zen calm – an old soul in a young man’s body.

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Kunal said...

I wonder why movie is not picking up even after predominantly glowing reviews.
And I seriouslyu think that Khalid and taran should be omitted from critics category.
They are big time partisans, you pay them and they will write anything.
I bet they already have 3I reviews written, just bneed to print it.

Rajeev said...

I saw the movie this Sunday and i liked it...RK as the lead was fantastic in a understated performance...This guy definitely have some legs...

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