Starring Ranbir Kapoor. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG. Now playing at SilverCity Mission and Strawberry Hill cinemas
Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a fresh, unexpected film, entirely unlike the spectacles we normally get from the Yash Raj production team. Instead of the usual focus on romance and family melodrama, this film shows us a middle-class view of Mumbai where the struggles are economic and the politics happen at the office. And yes, this is a comedy.
Watch the trailer for Rocket Singh.
Ranbir Kapoor (Wake Up Sid, Bachna Ae Haseeno) plays cheerful underachiever Harpreet Singh Bedi, a college student who is quite pleased to have barely graduated. He lands his first job as a computer salesman. But when he tries to do his job with honesty and integrity, he thereby foils the structure of routine corruption and bribery upon which the business runs. His coworkers humiliate him at every turn.
Harpreet decides to prove them wrong and starts his own shadow company. He gathers together a crew of misfits—the south Indian techie, the illiterate office peon who has unrecognized computer skills, and the female office manager who is denied a promotion because of sexism. They aim to play the game with new rules and to win.
Ranbir Kapoor is surprisingly effective in this role. Since he isn’t like other six-pack sporting Bollywood muscle men, he slips seamlessly into character. It’s also one of only a handful of Bollywood films where the lead character wears a turban and where a Sikh religious identity is woven into the story.
There’s a subplot about romance, but it’s hardly notable and no one breaks into song. Instead, this film— part Mad Men and part Jerry Maguire—is an underdog story about grit, perseverance, and ethics. Some sections in the first half of the film seem to drag, but once the story kicks off, you’ll be sold on it.