‘Rocket Singh‘ moves as slowly as the rickshaw you always get by some law of the universe, when you are running late. Every 30 seconds, 11 vehicles zip by you on the highway, 7 amongst them other rickshaws. You come out of a soporific trance to make sure that you are moving. Yes, you are. But you have already forgotten where you were heading towards in the first place. You have reached a state of being. You just are. In a rickshaw. Inching along the highway.
The only reason you don’t jump out of the rickshaw is that you are watching the incredibly talented Ranbir Kapoor. You wonder how strange it is for the makers of the film to try and squash the very charm that should have been the film’s biggest asset! Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) starts off as a goofy, happy-go-lucky character and transforms into a too sincere, boring one. Perhaps that is called growing up?
The film eschews melodrama and masala. But it also throws out of the rickshaw – romance, cinematic treatment and any sign of fun.
What it does revel in are painstaking details on the world of sales and marketing. I feel pain because it is a world I ran away from 20 years ago. I feel 20 again, trapped in a dreary sales office, where everyone expects me to sell washing machines, and I’m looking for the nearest exit. Try as I might, I cannot get excited about a battle being fought for computer assembly and servicing territory.
The pretence realism of the film is confused with filmi stereotypical characters, foul-mouthed ‘item girl’ receptionist, aggressive bully of a marketing manager, exploitative number-crunching boss, porn-addict techie, mean colleagues en masse who have nothing better to do than throw paper planes (rockets) at Harpeet, prescription-pretty, insipid girlfriend, doting grandfather. Thankfully, the actors competently redeem the over-the-top characterizations.
Honesty is the best policy is the simple premise, refreshing in an age that reveres cleverness and success. But the premise gets muddied because Harpreet Singh Bedi’s means to the end are not above reproach. The narrative remains simplistic. The climax of the film is frankly unbelievable in concept and embarrassing in its execution. Characters turn around too easily and therefore implausibly.
There is a nebulous quality to the film. One is not quite sure what it is about, what it wants to say, or what one’s own reaction to it is. It’s not a film you can dislike vehemently, but not one to rave about. It’s nice as mice, much as Harpreet Singh Bedi describes himself in a moment of anger against himself. But do I really want to pay to see mice?
You may be better off watching Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Anari‘ made 50 years ago with Ranbir’s grandfather, Raj Kapoor!
It’s pretty hammy, but also has the beautiful Nutan, the redoubtable Mrs. D’Sa (Lalita Pawar), fabulous songs, even one Helen number (1959), and loads of Raj Kapoor crying.