Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is a sweet but slight film, which should be watched for its good intentions, its inherent decency and for Ranbir Kapoor's performance, which firmly establishes him as the best actor of his generation.
Ranbir plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, a B Com graduate with 35 per cent marks who becomes a salesman in a computer company.
His idealistic vision of the working world shatters quickly. Within a few days of working, a client asks for a kick-back. Harpreet is aghast and files a complaint. But his honesty only brings him a demotion and humiliation.
Determined to do it his way, Harpreet forms his own company within the company. Other disgruntled employees also find their way to Rocket Sales - a place where even the chaiwallah is an equal partner because he brings talent to the table.
Harpreet and his band of rebels show us that eventually honesty and hard work is a sound business decision.
This is a tough story to tell and sell. Director Shimit Amin and writer Jaideep Sahani, who earlier collaborated on the excellent Chak De, are working here without any of the highs and lows of that film.
The drama here is more restrained. The obstacles seem more ordinary. The characters are wholly believable.
Starting with the titles, Shimit and Jaideep create wonderful little details - so Harpreet's grandfather, played nicely by Prem Chopra, rattles off a check list before Harpreet goes for a job interview, which includes the question: motion clear hua.
A street side tea stall becomes the conference room of the fledgling company and even the telephone on Harpreet's desk has just the right amount of grime.
But the trouble with Rocket Singh is that it never engages you fully. The first half is especially slow but even in the second, the film doesn't grab you by the gut.
There are long stretches in which the restrained story-telling becomes indulgent and topples over into sheer boredom. And there are several moments at which you wonder if this is more information about salesmen and their difficult lives than you ever needed.
The supporting characters in the film are interesting - I especially liked Giri, the babe-obsessed computer whiz, played by D Santosh and Koena, the fashionable but ambitious and smart receptionist played by Gauhar Khan. But none of them are as sharply etched or as memorable as the women in Chak De.
Finally then, it is up to Ranbir to carry Rocket Singh over its limitations and he rises to the challenge exceedingly well.
Watch his eyes in the scene in which he first discovers that honesty doesn't pay in this company or his body language in the scene, in which his grandfather has to come to jail to get him. He is outstanding.
Rocket Singh never becomes more than the sum of its parts but still I recommend that you make time for it. Just be prepared to be patient.