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Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year

Marks a continuum and a departure from the middle-class cinema of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjape

Starring: Ranbir Singh, Gauhar Khan, Naveen Kaushik, D. Santosh, Shazahn Padamsee
Directed by Shimit Amin
Rating: ***

 

The tone for Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is set in the opening credits. They are like ‘still life’, prosaic, silent paintings illustrating the ordinariness of middle-class life, wherein seemingly insignificant objects like refrigerator stickers, clothe-hangers and tea and biscuits on a sunmica table acquire a whole new meaning. It’s the eye for these details that matter: the salesman wearing the jacket wrong side around to ensure the white shirt doesn’t get dirty, tucking the trousers with a pin before riding off on his scooter and safely putting the tie in the shirt pocket while lunching.

The film itself marks a continuum and a departure from the middle-class cinema of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Sai Paranjape. It’s a far more compromised, cut-throat world than in the films of yore; the intent is also more subversive, yet the old-worldly innocence, idealism is upheld. Rocket Singh is a brave film, the kind which is very difficult to make given that the office setting is boring, the characters humdrum, the theme unexciting, the drama is all about bonuses, profits, targets, commissions, quotations and balancesheets and the humour quaint and throwaway.

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For a change we have a sardar hero, Harpreet, who’s not a buffoon and Ranbir plays him with restraint. There’s a fantastic set of ensemble performances (from unknown actors) that creates a fine social tapestry of a workplace and some outstanding office vignettes. Leading the pack is Gauhar Khan as the feisty office secretary and Naveen Kaushik as the sales manager with sharp sideburns, sharper mind and zero morals. There’s the delightfully real Lalwani, the computer spare parts dealer, and the equally authentic Prem Chopra as the grandpa. The one colourless character is that of the girlfriend Shazahn. There are other quibbles. The first half takes far too long to set up the characters. The end is also stretched and too nice. However, Rocket Singh scores as a truly indie effort from a mainstream production house like Yash Raj Films. But the makers should have gone the whole hog and made this a sharper 90-minute film without that mandatory interval.


High Fives

Bollywood

1. Paa
2. Rocket Singh
3. De Dana Dan
4. 2012 (dubbed)
5. Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani

Hollywood

1. The Princess and the Frog
2. The Blind Side
3. Invictus
4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
5. A Christmas Carol

Pop

1. Whatcha Say (Jason DeRulo)
2. 3 (Britney Spears)
3. Fireflies (Owl City)
4. Replay (Iyaz)
5. Already Gone (Kelly Clarkson)

Courtesy: Film Information

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AUTHORS: Namrata Joshi
TAGS: Movies
SUBSECTION: Showtime
OUTLOOK: 28 December, 2009
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