Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rocket Singh by Shimit Amin

Hmmm, where to start? At the end, I guess!

This film, like Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana (a vignette of which is shown about halfway through the film), is ultimately a moral tale. Yes, the end too nicely wraps the film up. Yes, the ending is convenient. Yes, the change-of-heart of the "villain" is too sudden. But, given the fact that this is a film with a message (more on that below), I found the ending reasonable.

Rocket Singh is the coming of age story of an honest man who does not easily give in to the ways of the world. He tries to do the right thing and he fails (is not effective at his job), succeeds (starts his own venture), FAILS (gets a rude dose of reality which destroys his venture) and SUCCEEDS (all is well, all are happy, nobody yell! music peppy!).

The second FAILURE is an important failure in this film, and that is what makes this film different from other, similar, moral tales. The overriding message is obviously that corruption doesn't pay in the long term. But the subtler message seems to be that it is a bad idea even in the short term. That while pursuing the right end, right means are also important. AYS Corporation is a corrupt company, and its owner, certainly so. But that doesn't give Rocket Singh the justification to take an unapproved loan from him.

I think what the film is trying to say is: There are bad rules (the rules of the game) and the good rules (the rule of law). The first category of rules are pooh-poohed, but the second set of rules are upheld as important. And in my view, the film is sensible in doing so. After the fiasco, one of Rocket Singh's partners in his illegal venture, his immediate boss Nitin, is shown dejectedly applying for a new job while his worried wife and his kids look on. There is only a hint of the legal machinery in the police station, but it is enough for the purposes of the film that the machinery is shown to work as intended.

Even the complaint that Rocket Singh makes against a corrupt client is shown to have had at least some effect. Hence, the film is trying to say, this is not after all a world where just because you are right you can take unlimited liberties, or that just because the world is corrupt you will face no consequences.

The film starts with some extremely well-framed compositions of the common objects in a middle class North Indian home. This was one of the rare films in which a Sikh character is not a caricature but is depicted as a normal human being. Prem Chopra was a pleasant delight to behold as the elderly Papaji (or was it Dadaji) of Rocket Singh.

The screenplay is taut, with nary a scene that drags. The dialogue is excellent, in fact. The pervert sys-admin provides the lion's share of laugh-aloud moments. His lecherous though infantile character is extremely well-done. This is also one of the few mainstream Bollywood films which does not shy away from closing up on a character's face. It is a pleasure to enjoy the uniformly good acting and the facial expressions of the characters.

As a conscious choice, the director does not dive deep into a romantic sub-plot. And the film is better for it.

1 comment:

Pankaj said...

wow. i think im going to see it.