Rocket Singh was unique even before its release. For the first time people were talking about the scripting directing team more than the cast. And why not? Jaideep Sahni had written Khosla Ka Ghosla, Bunty Aur Babli and Chak de India, while Shimit had directed Ab Tak Chappan and Chak de India. Of course the fact that star in the making Ranbir Kapoor was playing Rocket Singh only upped the ante. Here are my brief thoughts on this lovely film:
Most film-makers can do lavish and plush and wow are senses, in fact once they taste success, they want to go for the big show and the standard graph for any new director is of progressively bigger and bigger films. In contrast, Shimit is on a downsizing trend. After the blockbuster success of Chak De India, he and Jaideep craft an intimate look at a lower-middle class boy, his aspirations and his failures and successes. Even the business environment he enters is that of the door-to-door salesmen, who celebrate their minor triumphs with office parties that are more real than any seen on screen in a big studio film.
Ranbir Kapoor goes from strength to strength and as Harpreet Singh, a guy who barely passes his college exams but has aspirations (and who does not?), he comes up with another ace performance. He is ably assisted by Prem Chopra who plays his father in the most heartwarming and authentic role he has played since and including the time he ripped bodices as villain in the 70s, Guahar Khan as the office receptionist, Mukesh Bhatt as the office boy, Shahzahn Padamsee as the much muted love interest, Naveen Kaushik as Nitin the master salesman, Manish Chaudhary as the boss, and D Santosh as the porn watching Giri! Each character is well etched and the story moves forward slowly but in a very muted and low key manner. When Harpreet decides to freelance from his office premises and adds more and more people to his team, giving each one an equal cut, he is like a child who does not realize what these percentages mean! And the staff meetings are held in dhabas or on rooftops in a furtive and hurried manner.
The background score is outstanding and there is no need for or insertion of meaningless singing and dancing. The final confrontation between the boss and Harpreet reminds one of the Chak De India monolog but lacks the fire and passion of that film. Overall Rocket rocks but is a lesser attempt than CDI as it does not tackle a larger than life subject. However, it does create a small and quietly intimate film that is a delightful watch. Jaideep’s screenplay is the mainstay of the film, and Shimit directs with a deft and light hand, letting the screenplay carry the film. He manages to squeeze out excellent performances from all concerned. So the Shimit-Jaideep duo continues to give us fine cinema and one can only wait for the next venture.