Monday, December 14, 2009

Dug up a mountain, out came a mouse!


'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.

10 comments:

David Raphael Israel said...

Thanks for the review. Here in Los Angeles, there's a local movie theatre that plays a few big Hindi films, including (currently) this one. I was wondering what was up about the film; now I know (and can safely avoid it).
cheers,
d.i.

Atmapreeta said...

I would love to know what your daughter thought of the film, and if she is still talking to you after you badmouthed her to-be.

Or is she pissed at him for donning a pagdi?

memsaab said...

Hmmm. Surely there's a better alternative than Anari?...

Banno said...

David, glad I saved you some money :)

Atmapreeta, she liked it, as she is bound to do anything with RK in it. But I didn't bad-mouth RK, he's the only saving grace in the film.

Memsaab, I know you don't like 'Anari', re. the review at ppcc. But it's way better than this.

karrvakarela said...

Was really looking forward to this one if only for Jaideep Sahni. Aren't we aiming too high by comparing with Anari? I mean, Shimit Amin is no Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Also, that killer song "kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar, kissi ka gham mil sake to le udhaar . . ." That's like a credo. It's cruel to even compare that to "Pocket mein rocket. . . "

I think I'll still watch this movie.

karrvakarela said...

Oh, and I finally watched "Paromitar Ek Din" last night. Lovely movie.

Pitu said...

I rly liked Rocket :D I think pretty soon your daughter is going to have to fight me for RK ;-) teehee

Kaevan said...

More than Anari, it reminded me of this little-known Amitabh film called Manzil in which he sells galvanometers of all things for a living :)

Anindita said...

Thanks for the review...was wondering whether to watch. Maybe I'll give it a miss. I remember my corporate days with something like horror too. I even have nightmares that have me working at my last office and I wake up and go, 'it's only a dream, it's only a dream' and gulp lots of water. :)

Filmbuff said...

I actually liked Rocket Singh - saw it on DVD.