OKS Rant: Rocket Singh and the Fundas of Customer Services

I know it is a pretty lame statement to begin a post with but let me just get done with it. Rocket Singh is genuinely a ‘hatke’ movie. In a year choke-full of Bollywood formula of OTT high budgeted failures like Blue,Kambaqht Ishk, multistarrer flops -Main Aur Mrs Khanna, London Dreams and cinematic blunders -Chandi Chowkh, What’s Your Rashee – it seems like Bollywood needs reminding of the infamous line from matrix -There is NO spoon [ The spoon being a metaphor for formula]. Rocket Singh -without any form of exaggeration, is one of those movies which fall beyond the Venn diagram of Bollywood formula.
There is no Boy meets girl or Judaai waale gaane. There is no Pakka Khooni or Chor, neither is there any Dil Churane Wala. Rocket Singh subtly brings across mild memories of Boiler Room’s heated corporate sales talk in a believable Mumbai office and does not fail to charm throughout its length. Much of it certainly belongs to the spot on portrayal of Sardarji HP Singh by Sadda Kapoor -Ranbir and his Dadaji by none other than Prem, Prem Chopra.

Of course, Rocket Singh is not an easy watch and neither is it spoon feeding storytelling. Woven wonderfully and quite smartly into the tale is a myriad of quirky characters typical to a sales workplace. So you have the chaalu maal receptionist [Gauhar Khan], the cup-plate Peon Mishra jee and the ever-horny Gulti [as in Telegu] geek who for some reason keeps himself entertained by watching PG-13 images on his monitor rather than exploring the real deal. After all, this is a Yash Raj movie. And to complain some more, we have the lame, lamer, lamest sideburns and muchhee for Nitin and Boss Puri. Seems like the entire make-up budget got exhausted by the time they did Randir’s turban. But these are minor complaints which are fast gone by the time you get settled into this imaginary Mumbai. And by imaginary, I mean Mumbai without Taxis and traffic jam, and Computer Bazaar which scream out Delhi’s Nehru Place where ‘Pinter LeserJet and All Mobails Made in China’ are sold just doors away from Kaviraj Nirodh’s Dawakhana.

On a serious note, Jaideep Sahni’s story talks of the sales workforce which is hungry for reaching targets and where there is no wrong or right way to achieve them. There are only successes or failures in which a business can be evaluated and apparently, services is a no man’s land. This is quite a contradictory topic to indulge into when in reality, India stands as the torch bearer of the Customer Services Industry [Hello, we got all them call centres remember, rolling their R’s and speaking in stiff upper lips]. Ok, so we limit ourselves to a specific Computer Sales firm -AYS which has Service in its name, but does not provide any. It’s only about meeting the targets. And the big Managing Diro Puri makes not one but two rookie mistakes -taught in Module 1, Day 1 of Operations Management – Do not expand beyond your Service Area. So, a MacDonald’s should not try and customize its Menu and try to become a restaurant, and rather should stick to its fast delivery formula, and vice versa. The second mistake that Mr.Puri makes is what was seen during the HP-Compaq merger, when HP, impressed by the sales figures of Compaq and its revolutionary personal computers acquired Compaq, just to fire the people who made it revolutionary. The IT industry is replete with such stories of mergers and acquisitions, and we get just a glimpse of that in Rocket Singh.

I am quite confused about where the heart of the story lies and what message it conveys. I can see a hardworking bloke who is unhappy by the way sales business forces him to be unethical to climb higher in the ladder. So he decides to defy the system, and with collaboration of a roadside vendor starts selling assembled PCs and hey, that’s not all. He also thinks that for half the amount of the market price, he can profitably provide 24/7 customer service. That’s a bit far fetched but it doesn’t stop there. Mr.Entrepreneur wants the helpline to be routed through AYS’ reception desk. Dude! You are a CEO in the making and you own a bloody cellphone. Which also attracts attention to the biggest flaw of the movie – Where the hell have all the cellphones gone? It is a sales movie, and people in sales cannot live without cellphone unless they were in the 80s. And please don’t tell me that the movie was based before Jerry Maguire when Mr.Giri enjoys high speed downloads.

Now, I have been ranting a lot about this movie. But don’t get me wrong. I have been complaining about these aspects because I really cared about it. The plot engaged me, and more than that, the characters were very well etched out. I did give a damn about the various developments in the plot and I felt sorry when Mishra jee got back to making tea after the fraud was caught. I cheered when Mishra jee exclaims and warns Nitin that he’d transform the Idli into an Idla and do something really rude to him. And most importantly, I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of an indulgent candy-floss romance between HP and theย entrepreneurย chick.

The entire credit goes to the writing team for making the characters speak in a language which actually exists in the real world. Although I didn’t get to hear any flavour of Punjabi in Ranbir’s speech, I wasn’t disappointed by Dada-G Prem Chopra’s ever caring character who is always game for a Pizza over Dal and Aloo Sabzee. Geek Nocturnal Gulti -Giri who wants no Kirkiri is the epitome of well written characterization and awesome portrayal. And yes, I can vouch for the necessity of a Gulti guy in every IT Company. It has been long since we have seen such lively characters, since well, Khosla ka Ghosla [also written by Jaideep Sahni].

And to speak of Ranbir, I can only praise him in this brave role which makes him shed all of his commercial make-up, and get behind that beard and walk the walk, talk the talk and drive that Scooty. His mannerisms and his confidence makes him stand out and he deserves to be included in this year’s best male performances beside -Abhay Deol [Dev D] and Shahid Kapoor [Kaminey] . And finally, not to forget Gauhar Khan who scorches the screen with her oomphy dialogues more than her oomphy screen presence. She deserves more dialogue and has shown that unlike other pinup girls and calender girls, she definitely can act.

It has been a welcome break for my blogging to have emerged out of the X Factor liveblogging arena, and it has been an awesome Bollywood movie to start this break. What did you think of -Rocket Singh? Shout it out in the comments.
P.S. I’ll be watching Avatar next weekend on IMAX in 3D. Yes people, I effin MAX on 3D. So, better expect a massive fandom post soon. Cheerio!

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11 thoughts to “OKS Rant: Rocket Singh and the Fundas of Customer Services”

  1. Dekho Dekho Pituji.. I am sure you'll like this one. There's a lot of material to chew on and it never disappoints me. It's smart writing, but it is not without loopholes. Lekin chalta hai, it is much better than the run of the mill crap which has been churned out in the last couple of months in Bolly land

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  2. Hi there, glad tht u liked the review ๐Ÿ™‚ I visited Indian Auteur and u guys keep referring urself as IA ๐Ÿ˜› which is funny coz I work in IA – Insurance Analysis ๐Ÿ˜›

    Anywho, enough of smileys. Glad to see you in the commentary box, and hope to exchange more discussions and tippanis for future rants on Bollywood. Cheerio!

    [Reply]

  3. Hi there, glad tht u liked the review ๐Ÿ™‚ I visited Indian Auteur and u guys keep referring urself as IA ๐Ÿ˜› which is funny coz I work in IA – Insurance Analysis ๐Ÿ˜›

    Anywho, enough of smileys. Glad to see you in the commentary box, and hope to exchange more discussions and tippanis for future rants on Bollywood. Cheerio!

    [Reply]

  4. Hi there, glad tht u liked the review ๐Ÿ™‚ I visited Indian Auteur and u guys keep referring urself as IA ๐Ÿ˜› which is funny coz I work in IA – Insurance Analysis ๐Ÿ˜›

    Anywho, enough of smileys. Glad to see you in the commentary box, and hope to exchange more discussions and tippanis for future rants on Bollywood. Cheerio!

    [Reply]

  5. Just re-read your review. Completely agree about the cellphone comment. It's simply ridiculous that they can't use a brand-new cellphone for their fledgling company! Or even a landline in HP's girlfriend's shop. But FABULOUS movie!! Wish it had done well, it's a lovely movie and what's more it would have been a hat-trick for apna Ranboo ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. In my eyes, ..meri aankhon mein.. it did very well. Not so sure abt the hat-trick though.. Ajab Prem was very lukewarm comedy.. and Wake Up Sid did have its moments.. but again, I have a very cynical problem with the KJo world of make believe. The movie sets out with a realistic tone and all.. and then just loses it.. I'll rant about it later ๐Ÿ˜›
    But yeah, Rocket Singh mein Ranboo ne dikha diya tht he's the Desi Dude to look out for.. now tht the Khans are complaining of receeding hair lines and arthritis.. time for them to have more chawanprash or else land up making a 'Lal Baadhshah' of their career singing 'Dhanno Ki Aankh Sharabi re Humka Laage' with heroines of the same age as their socks ๐Ÿ˜›

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  7. My blog on this one is long overdue…
    Rocket Singh rocked despite all its flaws….from Prem Chopra to Naveen Kaushik (Nitin, his team leader), to the perrenial lech (Santosh – the jugado of the lot) to ‘cup-plate’ (who abhors being called so) to Gauhar Khan to Ranbir’s girlfriend [“Maggi khaoge? maggi?”], to the man himself (my favorite RK), the every role was tautly and realistically etched. The soul of the film was in the simplicity of the characters, their dialogues…

    An inherently sincere film!

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