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Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year – Movie Review without spoilers

December 13, 2009

What’s it about?
Rocket Singh has an unusual and original theme for a Bollywood film. It’s about ethics in business. The film sends a strong message that ethical business is the only kind of business worth doing. A less important theme which runs concurrently through the movie is that a poor academic record doesn’t mean that you are a duffer. Very relevant themes for India today which is battling with corruption in all aspects of life and with a  poorly designed educational system as well.

And the movie is a comedy.

Even better, the story and the dialogues are original. But why should we be surprised when the director of the film is Shimit Amin, none other than one who directed other unusual Hindi films, like Chak De! India (2007) and Ab Tak Chhappan (2004). The writer of the film, Jaideep Sahni, has written some good movies like Chak De, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Bunty Aur Babli and Company.

The story in brief without spoilers
Like the promos tell you, the story is about an ordinary boy, Harpreet Singh Bedi, a Sikh, who decides to become a salesman because he doesn’t see many other career options after a poor academic performance. He is quite sure that he is intelligent enough to succeed, despite his low marks. The movie tells us about his adventures after he joins a computer assembling and marketing company called AYS. We are entertained by a myriad interesting and amusing characters like the humble office peon (Mukesh Bhatt) who is so used to being humble that he has developed an inferiority complex, the smart office receptionist (Gauhar Khan) who is treated like a bimbo even though she isn’t, and the porn addicted employee (D Santosh) who is not as laid back as one assumes.

The story focuses on the theme and does not deviate, even for romance. The romance between Harpreet or Rocket Singh and a girl he meets is almost an aside. And well, that is what we want!

The acting
Ranbir Kapoor’s acting as Rocket Singh is alright but more important is that he comes across as a genuine and believable sardar. D Santosh stands out in the role of Giri, and Mukesh Bhatt and Naveen Kaushik as Nitin are good too. Prem Chopra does a decent job as Harpreet’s grandfather. Overall I thought the cast did a great job. Shazahn Padamsee, is supposedly the female lead but she has a small role and her acting comes across as stilted. I didn’t see any chemistry between the Ranbir and her and this adds to the disconnect. Shazahn seemed to be present for the glam value because in any case romance had little place in the story.

The setting
The movie plays out in office settings and is shot mostly indoors. The office chosen is an ordinary one, that of a small computer assembling company. There is no glamour here, and the realism adds weight to the movie. Audiences are able to relate to the characters much better in such settings. I think many of  us are super fed up with stupid dream sequences happening in the most unlikely of stories. Inserting brainless fantasies into a movie shows a lack of confidence on the director and I am glad this movie has none of that. Not resorting to stupid gimmicks to sell the movie shows honesty on the part of the directors and producers.

Overall movie experience
We caught a late night show of this movie and the cinema hall was packed. The audience clearly loved the movie. We enjoyed it too although we felt that it dragged in the first half. At least 20 minutes could have easily been cut from the 2 hours 38 minutes!  The movie does pick up in the second half though. The movie is funny and serious. Worth a watch.

(Photo is from glamsham.com)

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81 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2009 8:46 pm

    Thanks for the review. It makes me want to watch this movie :)

  2. December 13, 2009 10:15 pm

    me first!!! I was supposed to go for this movie today but could not. Hope to watch it asap. Only few people have trashed the movie.

  3. December 13, 2009 10:17 pm

    wonderful header!!

  4. December 13, 2009 10:46 pm

    I have to see this soon Nita… review is cool… :) :) seems to be Shahid and Ranbir were catching up the places of SRK and Amir khan…

  5. Dev permalink
    December 14, 2009 9:12 am

    Thanks for the review Nita. Your good review now inspires me to watch this one soon. The talented duo of Jaideep Sahni and Shimit Amin seemed to have worked again I guess.

  6. December 14, 2009 10:47 am

    Nita,
    I was planning to write my views in couple of days on this movie. Saw it on Friday and was not disappointed! Chak De is one of my favourite movies – the one I watch on the days I’m down and out – totally depressed. It cheers me up every single time. Though Rocketsingh may not be as great as Chak De – it’s a nice feel good movie with a nice touch of reality and both Shimin and Jaideep keep it real and believable. At Ranbir’s field induction seen I almost went like damn this happens, this I know! Nice movie and must watch:-)
    nice review too!

    He may not be yet close to the big Khans but he is making his moves :-)

  7. December 14, 2009 11:21 am

    I loved the movie… even after the interval, I wanted to know what happens.. but ending was dragged on for quite a bit!! But an overall good movie experience!!

  8. December 14, 2009 11:29 am

    Think I might watch this one..sounds good :)

  9. Vinod permalink
    December 14, 2009 12:47 pm

    My guess was this movie would be a comedy one with the usual load of sardar-overacting. From your review that doesn’t seem to be there. Let me ask you directly, Nita – is there the typical Indian way of showing comedy – with the exaggerated stereotypes of characters, particularly sardars with their way of speaking and behaving?

    If yes, I’ll skip this one.

    No Vinod, there is no exaggeration in depicting a sardar, nor are they made fun of. That type of thing you will find in Singh is Kingg. Here, the hero is shown like any one of us. – Nita

  10. December 14, 2009 2:30 pm

    Nice header Nita!
    Thanks for the review.

  11. December 14, 2009 3:16 pm

    I guess I would be watching this one, when the cinema halls are less crowded. :)

  12. December 14, 2009 5:42 pm

    Nita,great news.Your review surely is tempting enough for one to go to the theatre.
    Ranbir,is the 4th generation Kapoor and that it self should be reason enough for him to do a good job.

  13. rags permalink
    December 14, 2009 7:40 pm

    While Bollywood’s new age movies need to be appreciated as a reflection of the evolving taste of audience , its quite irritating to see Punjabi protagonists in every other movie. Its like people from the rest of India don’t exist and people don’t want to watch movies about people from other regions. They should rename it Bhangrawood or something…

    • December 15, 2009 11:52 am

      Well do they?

    • December 15, 2009 4:40 pm

      Somebody is real irritated. Now was that too much for you? Go watch Rajnikanth.

      • rags permalink
        December 15, 2009 5:26 pm

        Sure. I’ll watch Rajnikanth movies if I ever want to indulge in masochistic behaviour.

        • December 15, 2009 6:10 pm

          rags, I read your comment and agree that resisting temptation is what defines character and civilisation.

          • December 15, 2009 6:14 pm

            and also commenting like that in the first place says a lot…

          • December 15, 2009 6:18 pm

            “Character” and “Civilized” is by:
            1. Saying that Punjabi guys should be restricted to Bhangrawood
            2. By feeling jealous?
            3. By saying you are irritated by some community?

            Wow Nita… Moderate this comment too, but I am sure these words reached you.

            Jagmeet, I never moderate comments such as yours because if you feel offended by rags comment you have a right to, but do keep your tempers people! I agreed with her in two things, which I stated. She has an excellent point. The only reason I thought of moderating your comment is your false accusation against me, but then I thought I would let it pass and readers can evaluate my comment and yours. But from now on you are on moderation. If you make any other false accusation against me it will not be published. And if you write an offensive comment I can always mark your comment as spam (we have a blacklist) and then it will not “reach” me if the intention of your comment is that. – Nita.

            • December 15, 2009 7:41 pm

              Another thing Mr. Jagmeet Singh Hanspal, there is a genuine grievance of people that most characters in movies are Punjabi and there is nothing wrong in stating a fact! However I did not react to that bit of rags’ comment because I think it is natural what happens. Not that it is ideal. She has a right to her opinion and I think you have twisted her comment too. She has not said that Punjabis should be restricted to Bhangrawood! That interpretation is funny! In fact your intepretation of her comment is offensive and also needless flaming.

              • December 15, 2009 8:50 pm

                “there is a genuine grievance of people that most characters in movies are Punjabi”
                It has been Bollywood’s business model to depict and cash-in on a Sikh or someone with a Punjabi accent in a movie as a character mostly doing self-mockery. It has been our grievance more than anyone else’s. No-body had a problem till then, as it is comedy for all, cheap or whatever, as a Sikh is someone “else”, not one of you, and not you. And a few couple movies, lately, with “Punjabi protagonists”, I see people having issues with it. It is again their new model to cash in. I like it cause in past few releases “Love Aaj Kal” and “Rocket Singh” at-least they have shown them in good light, as well dressed, polished and with some role which is something besides ridicule. Now, if someone has a problem with that, then I have a problem with that someone. [rags, I’m not dragging you into this, but I am just saying]

                • Dev permalink
                  December 16, 2009 4:21 am

                  Jagmeet, relax man! Nobody here said that they have problem in showing Sikhs in good light. It’s true that the mainstream Bollywood, in the last 10-15 years especially, had film after film showing only Punjabi culture, music and so on. And, forget about non-punjabis, that can be irritating even for somebody like me who comes from a similar background like yourself. I would much like to see more of Omkaras or Parineetas or Satyas where I can enjoy and experience a milieu not that much known to me rather than the same stuff churned out by Chopras and Johars year after year.
                  You are also jumping into conclusions regarding Nita’s intent in moderating comments or being prejudiced here. I have been a reader of her blog for few years now and she has always appreciated diverse views and infact have also not appreciated stereotyping of Sikhs or other communities in films.

                  • December 16, 2009 6:46 am

                    Dev, thanks. As anyone reading the comments will see no one has offended him on this blog, but he has certainly misunderstood rags comment as well as mine and has taken needless offense. Even after rags and me explained her sentence he has still not acknowledged that he misinterpreted her sentence. So there was no point in me trying to explain mine, which in no way could have caused offense.
                    However I did make a mistake in the sense that i replied to a comment rags made on a previous post (Tiger Woods) and replied to her here. :) I wonder if you realised that rags!

                    • rags permalink
                      December 16, 2009 9:48 am

                      Yep, I realised that. :-) But I wondered why Mr.JSH was getting all worked up over it. ;-)

            • rags permalink
              December 15, 2009 7:45 pm

              JSH, I never said that Punjabi guys should be restricted to Punjabi movies nor did I imply that I am irritated by any community. I was only irritated By Bollywood’s seemingly endless honeymoon with Punjab. I don’t know why that should be offensive to anyone. Anyway if it did hurt anyone I apologise.

            • December 15, 2009 7:59 pm

              Nothing bad in moderation till the time there is something to moderate.

              I felt offended by rags comment (as you said) and you felt offended by something else.
              [with a cool head –> Where is my offensive comment and where is my false accusation?]

              “For people who dont like it, dont watch it.” Character and civilized behavior is also about refraining from putting prejudiced comments, just as it is about resisting temptation, is all I said.

              And if at all, sorry for polluting your personal blog. I’ll take a leave.

    • December 15, 2009 10:46 pm

      So rags, how often are Northerners (including Punjabis and Sikhs) represented in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies? And is their representation done in ways that rise above stereotypes? :)

      • rags permalink
        December 16, 2009 10:20 am

        I am no authority on Telugu or Malayalam movies (I’ve watched very few of them and cannot generalise based on those few movies) but Tamil movies do include North Indian characters now and then (many are stereotypical and some are ‘normal’ characters), however that is hardly my point. I didn’t complain about lack of people from other regions in regional language movies like Punjabi/ Marathi.

        All I’m saying is Bollywood PRETENDS to have a pan Indian appeal but the portrayal is almost always centred on people from a specific region. I am not asking for people from South to be portrayed in Bollywood movies because Bollwyood hardly sells there but even other regions like M.P., Orissa, Bihar, M’shtra etc etc always get ignored though most people watch Hindi movies there. If stating facts is prejudice, then yeah, I am prejudiced. ;-)

        • December 16, 2009 11:08 am

          O yeah, Mithun Chakraborty and Amitabh Bachchan defy your stated ignorance criteria. good for you statnig the facts AND staying prejudiced.

          • December 16, 2009 12:58 pm

            You mean to say that Mithun and Amitabh are “characters” in films?? As far as I know they do not play themselves.

        • Vinod permalink
          December 16, 2009 12:16 pm

          For whatever it is worth, Rajnikanth is a Marathi guy.

          • December 16, 2009 12:59 pm

            We are talking characters vinod! And rags has another very good point. Tamil movies are not meant for a north indian audience.

          • rags permalink
            December 16, 2009 2:24 pm

            You know what guys, I’m not debating this anymore, half of you have no clue what I’m talking about and others just want to jump to a conclusion based on their own set of assumptions. Thanks nita, for your time and support.

    • December 16, 2009 9:36 am

      Rags

      your are right in saying that nowadays most of the Hindi films have Punjabi protagonists..
      But it’s a relatively new phenomenon, started from DDLJ in 1995. If you know about the bollywood of 60’s and 70’s, most of the films, their backdrops, protagonists etc revolved around Lucknow….
      Well That was a phase and now this is a phase, and very recently they have started showing Sikhs as lead character…this is a new trend..I don’t find anything irritating in that

      • December 16, 2009 5:28 pm

        Relax guys… Its just a movie..

      • Guest permalink
        December 22, 2009 2:09 am

        Yes Vivek Mittal, I absolutely agree with you. There was a time when UP (including typical Awadh culture) used to be at heart of cinema. A lot of lyricists and writers were from UP though still many are.Lyrics and Dialogues had a lot of Hindi and Urdu in it . A lot of ghazals, bazm, sher-o-shayari and nazms used to be there. Remember the great lyrics from Gulzar and Javed Akhtar and songs from umrao jan ada. Perhaps for current generation even it would be very difficult to understand that form of Hindi if they have not had some exposure to typical UP-Delhi-Agra-Awadh high culture at home where thay have seen their relatives speaking in that form of hindi.

        Its wrong to say that bollywood is all from Punjab.
        Currently, there is so much from other states too like, Omkara, Banaras, Dharm, TajMahal, Umrao Jaan, Pyar to hona hi tha, Sahar, Bunty aur Bubly,Gangajal,Run, recently Babbar and many more.

        But yes, its cyclic, currently its the trend of Punjabi culture which has really become popular with the new gen due to bhangra etc. and its very nice to see it in films, even as a true hindi speaking person what i like is that I am also exposed to Punjabi and can understand it very well and can even watch punjabi films.

        I remember as a young child during those late 80s I used to like a lot of punjabi songs because of its fast paced music and Gurudas Mann was available as the onlz choice (outside punjab) and with poor Doordarshan I cud not get enough of it. And now I love so much stuff from Jazzy B, Harbhajan Mann, Bindrakhia (late), Jassi and Mika, sahotas and many pakistani singers too and so many…………..I love punjabi, punjabi music and everything punjabi and ofcourse my own Hindi…pyara bollywood with so many beautifully worded hindi songs…
        Great Bollywood…keep producing nice movies like rocket singh :)

    • Guest permalink
      December 22, 2009 2:25 am

      Yes, we can say that Punjab and related culture is shown more but there is a good amount of representation from other North Indian states too. Bt it’d be wrong to say that bollywood is allll from Punjab.
      Currently, there is so much from other states too like, Omkara, Banaras, Dharm, TajMahal, Umrao Jaan, Pyar to hona hi tha, Sahar, Bunty aur Bubly,Gangajal,Run, recently Babbar and many more.

      its cyclic in bollywood, during 60s to DDLJ it was more up,delhi,lucknow focused now its more punjab, afterall bhangra and punjabi music is popular in all northie young gen. probably we may see some bhojpuri trend in future, just a guess …. no problem till we get good stuff in any language from bollywood. but bhangra rocks…me a great punjabi music fan :)

  14. December 14, 2009 11:06 pm

    The movie does sound interesting. I read and heard a lot of good reviews of this movie – waiting to catch it now.

  15. December 15, 2009 3:11 am

    it sounds very very interesting, Nita! I will try to get the film if it will be avaliale on DVD abroad.

  16. December 15, 2009 11:52 am

    Oh my god, this movie drags on and on and on and on….

  17. Lakshmi permalink
    December 15, 2009 8:02 pm

    I will try to catch it when it is out in DVD Nita. I really want a simple nice comedy!

  18. December 15, 2009 9:57 pm

    Awesome review! Still waiting for someone to give me company to watch Rocket Singh.
    :)

  19. December 16, 2009 7:12 am

    Thanks all for commenting and adding your own opinions of the film!

  20. December 16, 2009 11:07 am

    Hi Nita, saw the movie yesterday. As someone who runs a small organisation, I think there were a couple of messages that were lost for most viewers. For one,Singh knows he is (mis)using office facilities and makes a note of it to pay back his employer and secondly, he makes it a point not to pinch clients of his employer. I think these are important ethics that are lost on the average movie-goer.
    And unlike some readers I think the movie did make fun of the Sardar, but not in an offensive manner. And one should take it in good humour. I belong to the South and that is one population that is eternally made fun of in movies in the most exagerated manner. No one ever complains!

    • December 16, 2009 1:07 pm

      radha, you have brought forward an important point which I almost mentioned, about making fun of various regions in movies. Maharashtrians are invariably portrayed as maids and drivers and peons or corrupt politicians and policemen, and well tamilians are always made fun of, particularly the accent. Parsis and muslims also suffer the same fate. I do not think that the sardar has been made fun of in Hindi films more than the others at all. I am talking of Hindi films only and not any other medium, because the discussion here is Hindi films. In fact very few Hindi films even have sardar characters, even in a side role so I don’t know what the fuss is about.

      • December 16, 2009 1:21 pm

        Now, which one of “your” two statements (aks facts) is correct:

        “there is a genuine grievance of people that most characters in movies are Punjabi”
        &
        “In fact very few Hindi films even have sardar characters, even in a side role so I don’t know what the fuss is about.”

        Ohh, so someone is irritated about Punjabi characters, and not Sikh characters? Is that so? Is that how you want to tear it?

        If that is the case, then this film is about Sikh character and NOT Punjabi character (as per your understanding) and rags comment is utterly misplaced in this blog as she is irritated by Punjabis and their culture depicted all the way in scenes and songs. On top of it you cross-replied to her comment from some other blog.
        Now don take that as another accusation. You said that yourself.

        • December 16, 2009 1:36 pm

          JSH, I can only smile at your comment. I have nothing else to say. You are mixing up too many issues. The two statements come from two different people!! It is your comment which is misplaced, not rags. I am not going to pubish any more of your comments on this post. Not even one. Thanks.

  21. December 16, 2009 6:28 pm

    Has anyone seen Office Space? It had a similar kind of plot… But only better and more Indian.. The promo was even better (calling people in IIT/AIIMS/IIM – BORING)…

  22. December 17, 2009 2:42 am

    Nita, I dont know if I have requested this before, but can you also do reviews of non-Hindi movies ? You have done atleast one Marathi movie, I know, but there are also other good Bengali and Tamil movies. In recent times, I would certainly recommend Antaheen (*ing Rahul Bose and Radhika Apte) and Kanchivaram (winner of National Film award).

    I think in general Hindi cinema, particularly Bollywood simply does not represent us most of the time (I dont mean just in a regional sense). Rocket Singh might be an exception. But really the factors driving the separation of Bollywood from general Indian society are too powerful right now to be resisted by the movie personnel of that industry.

    • December 17, 2009 7:58 am

      I did a review of a Tamil movie once, although I could not understand the dialogues! The main problem Vikram is that you don’t get dubbed regional movies and this is a grouse with me! I would love to see more of regional cinema. I do see Marathi movies once in a while though, but only if they are recommended. There are some excellent old Marathi movies but then I only do reviews of new films. And yeah you are right about Bollywood cinema not being that realistic. At one time it was pure fantasy and it has improved now. I think basically it has improved because there is a market with the middle classes now while earlier the cinema used to cater to the masses who were uneducated. This is changing now and one hopes that the cinema will keep improving. Whether it will truly become pan India one doesn’t know though.

  23. phantom permalink
    December 17, 2009 4:13 am

    @ Jagmeet Singh Hanspal >> as a non-punjabi who has had loads of exposure with punjabis and their culture (both sikhs and hindus), and with almost ALL my indian friends hailing from this background (as well as pakistani punjabis)….I feel qualified enough to comment on your verbal jousting with Rags.

    Bollyood is hindi cinema, is it not…..and NOT Punjabi cinema, which is a distinct cinematic identity/industry in its own right….and doesn’t the industry directly or indirectly, formally or informally, attempt to portray itself as a pan-indian cinema culture ??? (as opposed to the regional cinema genres that make no bones about their linguistic/cultural target amrket).

    The pan-indian’ness of Bollywood is supported by the fact that the industry comprises people from a very wide communal background, right from the stars, producers, directors, fiannciers, technical staff, supporting actors and all ancilliary service providers. We have actors that are punjabi, bengali, muslim, UP, maharashtra, karnataka, tamil-nadu, kerela etc. We have the industry based in Munbai….a communal melting pot. And most importantly…we have a global and domestic audience for bollywood that comprises MANY more communities than just Punjabis.

    Be this as it may…..why is it that a lot of mainstream bollywood films these days have that distinct punjabi flavour, be it in the casting of the main roles, the profiles of the characters, the verbiage in the songs, the accents and in a general glorification of “punjabiness”, ?? Don’t get me wrong….punjabi culture is very colourful, and the people flamboyant. But know this…..the other communities in india consider themselves (and rightly so) no less better or worse than Punjabis (in every manner conceivable)….and one really does tire of seeing relentless sycophantic, gushing, over-the-top pandering behind any one specific culture. This has an especially hollow effect when one considers that a HUGE proportion of bollywood patrons are NOT Punjabi.

    I take Nita’s point on board – why is it that a Maharashtrian character in bollywood is more and more often just being depicted as a govt official, a cop, a servant, a bhai etc??? Why is it that a southern Indian (and again…the lack of distinction between kannadigas, telugus, tamilians and malayalis is equally offensive and culturally ignorant) character is shown with that long held stereotype of them being dark skinned, relatively unattractive, speaking hindi with a ridiculous accent, or being shown as ultra orthodox ??? Why is it that whenever a successful, handsome/beautiful, rich, character is shown…it is typically with a punjabi name etc. (have we really got NO suitable names apart from Malhotra, Kapoor, Saluja, Chopra, Mehra ????) This type of characterisation, while it must be a huge ego-boost to the Punjabis (who have enough of an ego to begin with)…it does not serve to endear the rest of india to the Punjabi community.

    I don’t blame the punju ppl. Directors and producers like Karan Johar, Yash Chopra have well and truly shown their inability to be objective and community-neutral in their cinematic endeveaurs…..but then again, they ARE Punjabi, and as everyone in India knows…most punjabis cannot see beyond the boundaries of their community. However, what about the non-punju actors, directors, producers??? Why do they also have to bend over backwards to show every positive attribute in bollywood characterisation as solely Punjabi??? Case in point…in Rocket Singh…why was the rich and successful boss called Mr. Puri…why not any other name??? Isnt it likely that a successful business based in Mumbai would have a boss from ANY community other than Punjabi…..its not like we’re lacking in a buffet of communities….gujjus, sindhis, UP, maharashtrians, tamilians, bongs etc.

    On another note – I don’t agree that Sikhs or Punjabis in generally have been ridiculed nearly to the extent that southern Indians, maharashtrians, biharis etc have been mocked in bollywood. In any case, the ridiculing of Sikhs was only along the lines of them being comical, larger-than-life characters…which isn’t really all that offensive anyway.

    Bottom line – it would NOT be incorrect to call bollywood a semi-punjabiwood at this point.

    • December 17, 2009 7:53 am

      Thanks Phantom for that intelligent analysis. For the life of me I could not understand why Jagmeet was upset by rags comment. She has a genuine grievance which you have explained well here. As you said Hindi cinema does not try and portray itself as regional cinema. Not just Punjabis, even people of UP and Bihar were often heroes as Vivek Mittal pointed out, more often than people from other communities. I wonder if it is because Hindi films do better in those regions? One needs to explore that angle.

  24. December 17, 2009 9:47 am

    Nita

    \\even people of UP and Bihar were often heroes as Vivek Mittal pointed out\\

    i never said that. I only mentioned particular city of Lucknow. And that’s because distinct Urdu culture and language of the place which is not reflected in rest of UP and certainly not in Bihar.And Lucknow in the films of that era was touted as often as Punjab these days

  25. December 17, 2009 12:07 pm

    Jagmeet wanted me to post his as a reply and here is his comment:

    And never did I say Bollywood making fun of other communities is OK. This is the conversation I had with Nita over email:
    “Bollywood made fun of other minorities too. Radha said Southies have always been made fun of. Some other people told other experience. But that’s none of a reason for minorities to confront each other. Of course each one a reason to confront Bollywood. ”
    “Some people get irritated if they sees too many Punjabi’s etc. I take that as only two cents Bollywood is doing after decades of mockery. That is how I see it. Anyone open to see it differently, welcome to experience it, and free to ignore it, but not free to step on it.”

    I hope Bollywood compensates for the fun it has been making of Marathis and all other too! If it does that why would I have a problem? And if I have then that community wuld have a problem with my interference. That’s the same point I am making here.

    Best Regards,
    ~
    Jagmeet

  26. December 19, 2009 12:09 am

    I want to see this movie for one simple ason – The director’s previous movie was Chak de. That was an awesome movie! And the theme of this movie is interesting. But why should it be a comedy?

    Destination Infinity

  27. December 19, 2009 5:24 am

    Nita!!!!! Your reviews are excellent!
    Another movie to add to my endless list of unseen movies!

  28. raghav permalink
    December 20, 2009 4:14 am

    I can say i liked the movie, though i watched it online so the quality was not excellent.

    @ Phantom

    A nice analysis by you. I really liked the following line of yours

    ”This type of characterisation, while it must be a huge ego-boost to the Punjabis (who have enough of an ego to begin with)…it does not serve to endear the rest of india to the Punjabi community”.

    I agree with most of what you wrote but i also think that non-punjabi directors who are now many many more in number than punjabi directors are also taking punjabi characters in their movies as leads.
    May be the part of blame also lies with non-punju directors.

    Being a Punjabi, it has become lackadaisical to see the same things from punjabi culture again n again and no doubt i feel it is over represented. We have a lot of cultural variety in India and it should be shown. This will also be good for the education of North Indians or Hindi imperialists (as Vivek khadpekar says :) ) or in general everybody in India who is culturally different from us.

    I love my culture and its vibrancy but I am all for under-representation of the punjabi protagonists for a while in Bollywood. :)

    Lastly, i am very happy that in this movie a Sardar is shown to be a normal guy. Anybody who disagrees is welcome to do so.

    Baaki, everything is chill, enjoying the snow on coldest day of winter at -10 °C.

  29. phantom permalink
    December 20, 2009 4:53 pm

    @rahgav

    Nice to see a balanced, culturally intelligent remark from a punju (and by this I’m not at all implying any lacking in punjs, I’m referring to the context here). I wish more punjus, and folks from northern india were to echo a similar thought process and get more open to truly understanding AND appreciating the cultural diversity in India.

    Its interesting how this trend in punjabisation of bollywood (over the past 10-15 years) has caused a substantial increase in the relative glitz, glamour and sho-sharaba among punjabi culture and punjabi society (both rural and urban). Its not surprise that seeing this romanticisation and glorification of punjabis in bolywood, punjabi society (no doubt aided by the substantial ego boost from bolywood) has evolved itself to incorporate that much more glitz and glam within their own cutural practise (e.g. weddings, fashion, music, and general cultural expression). Seeing this, bollywood no doubt begins to more and more associate glitz and glam with punjabiness in general, and thus incorporates more of punjabiasation in the movies. So all in all, its a repeating cycle.

    I’d have no issue with this pandering behind a specific cultural system, were it for the huge role that bollywood plays in shaping the pop culture in india (or rather, in the states where bollywood is the dominant indegenous cultural media). Its no secret that punjabi music/dance is slowly but surely penetrating full steam into hindi/bollywood pop/rock/filmi music in general. It’s only a matter of time surely before the bhangra and variations of it are no longer a specific ethnic folk dance, and well entrenched into modern indian urban pop cultural dance, and synomenous with bollywood dance in general. I understand punjabi (having spent time in punjab, and having numerous punju mates)…and i enjoy punju music….but I’ve got to admit….theres a sense of loss in seeing punju mucic/dance/culture pevade so heavily into a cultural media that until some time ago had the pan-indianness to provide that warm blanket of cultural neutrality that made all indians feel a sense of ownership. I’m now beginning to feel like an outsider when it comes to bollywood consumption….am I just paranoid???

    • December 20, 2009 8:08 pm

      Phantom, I am not a Punjabi and I am a movie fan, but I don’t feel at all uneasy about the fact that so many movies portray Punjabi culture. I feel that where movies are concerned, they do not set out per se to portray any community, but they do it to entertain. As you yourself said many directors and producers come from that background and therefore they do what comes naturally to them. Even where writing is concerned, they say that write about what you know if you want to do it well. That is all there is to it. I don’t think there is anything to worry about. In fact it amuses me more than anything else. In fact I feel Bollywood cinema will increasingly work towards characters and stories which comprise of people from all communities, without their community practices actually intruding on the story. There is cinema from bollywood like that, Fashion for eg. Yes the protaganist is a Punjabi but that is not central to the story. That is what i mean. Names are meaningless and the background subservient to the story. This is where good cinema will veer towards. Frankly I don’t care by what names characters are called. As long as I get to see a variety of stories and some cultural nuances if it is central to the story. Culture is central to a story like Hum Aapke Hai Kaun for eg.

    • raghav permalink
      December 21, 2009 2:08 am

      @Phantom

      // Its no secret that punjabi music/dance is slowly but surely penetrating full steam into hindi/bollywood pop/rock/filmi music in general. It’s only a matter of time surely before the bhangra and variations of it are no longer a specific ethnic folk dance, and well entrenched into modern indian urban pop cultural dance, and synomenous with bollywood dance in general //

      Are you sure you are not paraniod as you wrote :). Ok, i do believe there is a lot of influence of Punjabi music in Hindi songs. But then what u say above sounds serious and alarming which makes me just go laughs. But one big reason for that is Punjabi music industry is very well developed be it india or abroad in some countries n which is very unlike punjabi fim industry.

      One serious advice for you, diassociate urself for sometime with everything punjabi and its ppl, u have had too much of them. hahahahah, nops, just kidding, mate.

  30. December 21, 2009 2:14 pm

    WITHOUT PREJUDICE

    I feel you are learned enough the way you articulate your messages, so
    here is some food for thought, in very lucid terms, just in case it was
    too difficult to get a grasp:

    If Team A and Team-B play some game, let us say soccer, and Team-A cries
    for the sole reason of losing in scores the game cannot continue. All
    that the referee can suggest Team-A is to score more, not that the
    referee or anyone is going to reduce the B’s scores somehow.

    Going with the way the solution is turning out here, in some time when
    you have some more Mallu leads, then expect Gujrati people to raise
    their concerns that Mallus are over-represented. Right?! That’s what! :-P
    And then Kannad community won’t be able to digest the glamorous
    Gujju protagonists someday. Why forget the people from Bihar who would
    have their words ready for kannads, to under-represent them. What an
    elegant way! Can you get more childish?

    Be a sport!

    So for all the phantoms and other allied super-naturals, when you say
    “We consider out community no less”, well no-one is contesting that. But
    your rights do NOT come as a cost to some others. Make your
    representations, and have your kind of protagonists, make your score!
    And making your score is NOT by saying “I am all for under-representing
    others” to feel MY dignity.

    You can make your object look bigger, by actually making it bigger
    somehow, or by making the other object smaller. When you try to downplay
    the other object, that is a trivial case of conflict of interest. For if
    it goes through, the other party is affected, and if it doesn’t, you
    remain affected.

    And again, its entertainment industry, and will count on anything that
    helps it get more business and profits.

    Since I have clarified my stand several times, you can help yourself
    from now & go re-read until u get it. My comments have been defensive of
    your presumptions, and I am all too happy to see it like that. Thus,
    Nita has been quite open with my posting and they did not got
    over-ruled. Her review of the movie was awesome, and she takes utmost
    care to be as balanced as possible. However, the comments that follow do
    not reach that level of self-scrutiny. Although her comment policy is in
    place, but sometimes certain things did get slipped in the flow and
    assertions to support each other. So for the ones who claimed they have
    a loads of exposure with Punjabis and their culture, and still feel the
    way you do, it can be best said you didn’t meet enough of them to have
    your exposure skewed like that. It is also true that it’s your own
    reflection that you see in other people. For I feel there is not
    community where you can’t find people at both the extremes, good/bad,
    introvert/extrovert and what not. (Of course we can come to the
    definitions of good and bad another fine day).

    Nita had a bad experience with the Swiss nationals but not too many
    could relate to it, some did too. If just saying that Punjabis have
    enough of an ego to begin with, is not stereotyping then we have the
    change its definition in the dictionary. Come meet me in person, and
    maybe I can be nice to you.

    The blog article was good and the comments provided me HUGE insights in
    the mentality of people, though I met almost the same kind in the name
    of diversity, and got a glimpse into what presumptions a person has when
    he meets me in real. Thanks. I would be wary.

    “Each relationship you have with another person reflects the
    relationship you have with yourself.”
    Now if you have a conflicting view of THAT, you are best advised to
    either ponder or redirect your queries to its author, or if you can
    gather expert advice from comments here, good luck to you, the only
    trouble being if assertions is all you need from like-minded souls, it
    is just hype. :-)

    And let me end it the Bollywood way:
    All characters are fictitious. Any resemblance to anyone alive or dead,
    is purely coincidental.

    Chao!

    Warm Regards,
    ~
    Jagmeet
    ~

  31. phantom permalink
    December 22, 2009 3:56 am

    @ Jagmeet

    You seem to have missed a few basic points of my rant. The purpose of my post was NOT to engage in punju-bashing, as that is not within scope of this discussion, and neither does that reflect my thinking and value system (to pro-actively engage in belittling a community).

    This discussion, as initiated by Rags, was regarding the overwhelmingly increasing trend within bollywood, for Punjabi culture to be overly disproportionately displayed, glorified and characterised, in all manners (be it in the casting, names, character development, songs, dance, cultural practices). This is not a “punju vs gujju vs mallu vs marathi vs bihari” debate, and neither is this about saying that Punjabi characterisation is a negative thing per se (as that would amount to a parallel belittling of punju culture/community, which I repeat again, is not the agenda here at all).

    As you have used an analogy, so shall I. If one goes to a food court that purports to represent INDIAN cuisine, and one finds a vastly predominant availability of only Punjabi cuisine, with said punju cuisine represented in full glory, and minimal representation of the many other cuisines of India, and furthermore, a reduction of the few non-punju cusines offered, to purely stereotyped culinary representation (as opposed to representation in suitable depth and variance within that specific cuisine type)….then would not the consumer be justified in saying…HANG ON…this is an INDIAN food court isn’t it??? Where is the gujju, , maharashtrian, UP, Bengali, malabari, manglorean, Andhra, goan food???? So this sentiment of indignation from the food court visitor has nothing to do with any belittlement of or dislike/disrespect for Punjabi food…it is a response to the vast under-representation of the other cuisines, which seems culturally inappropriate and intolerant on the part of the food court operator/owner, given the mandate of the food court being an Indian food court.

    This is about the disproportionate characterisation of punju culture at the COST of equivalent representation of the many other cultures and communities in India, and within the bollywood consuming demographics. This is about the non-punju segment of the bollywood market feeling naturally under-represented in bollywood characterisation.

    If a specific movie’s story, plot, casting and character development necessitates a punju element, then by all means, that is what should be done (e.g. certain components in Khosla Ka Ghosla, Rocket Singh, jab we met, love aajkal, veer zara), just as any other specific characterisation of any other community would also be justified. However, this is not about those specific scenarios. This is about the almost-default selection of punju characterisation as the tried-and-tested formula in movies where no component of the cinematic rendering logically suggests or justifies a predominantly punju incorporation. This does beg the question – do the bollywood directors, producers, script-writers honestly feel that punju culture is the ONLY Indian culture worth displaying on screen, the only culture worth displaying in pomp and glory and colour??? I have no problem if the answer from these bollywood players is YES…because then I will at least be able to put down their thinking to cultural bigotry, myopia and insularity. But if the answer is NO, then I shall put it down to a severe lack of cinematic initiative and artistic courage to go against the wind, which seriously calls into question the artistic & cultural merit of these production houses anyway.

    As regards my comment about punjus and their ego….was purely my opinion and you don’t have to agree with it (and I respect that), but speak to many non-punjus and you might find that they concur with my view. But then again, no community’s perfect and we all have our quirks.

    And btw, it is NOT KannaD community….the language is KannadA, and the community is KannadIGAS. You might be well served to know this, given that kannadigas are not exactly a tiny community in india, and kannada is after all the official language of a major state, AND one of the 4 classical languages, as officially recognised by govt of india. Funny how many of my American friends are all aware of Kannada as being a distinct language from India, but many of my friends from delhi/Punjab (incl a chap who has spent 3 years working in Bangalore !!!!!) still refer to it as KannaD !!!!

  32. December 22, 2009 12:34 pm

    @phantom and you missed it again too. The resolution to have more diverse cuisines should be (in my view, and which is my ONLY point) come from encouragement to others and NOT by the discouragement to the ones already there. How wrong is that? Who is arguing there should not be diversity or proportionate segments, my statement only emphasizes “method” to achieve it. This is not “punju vs gujju vs mallu vs marathi vs bihari” debate, as misunderstood again. The statement was a part of an analogy depicting if and when there are more Marathi cuisines, let us not get into bashing/demoting/under-representing Marathi then and saying Gujarati (or anyone else for that matter) should be given equitable proportions, instead “promote” Gujarati (or anyone else for that matter).

    And as for the “Kannada” clarification, yes, I seem to have missed the “A”. :-) My first friend in my new office of all the others is a Kannada (sorry I may be wrong here again), but he and me got stuck to English as a common language, so couldn’t get a chance to clarify. I’ll ask him for sure, and he will be more than happy to tell me, instead of treating me as ignorant.

  33. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    December 22, 2009 7:20 pm

    @ Jagmeet Singh Hanspal

    //My first friend in my new office of all the others is a Kannada (sorry I may be wrong here again)//

    Apology accepted. :-) The language is called Kannada. The person speaking it is called a Kannadiga.

    • December 23, 2009 11:37 am

      Lol Vivek, too quick to grab my apology. Ha Ha Ha. Thanks for clarifying, in a decent way, man.

      And after all I mis-spelled Kannada, for the lack of information regarding the same, but thats much better than deviating and distorting the names just for rants like Punju, Mallu, etc for which people have full knowledge of what they are doing. [Anyone can read this thread from top and realize who is the one comical character to do this first here.]

      U know guys, “whatever”.

      Just FYI, I think Nita is right again when she says she watches movies for the content and not for the characters and names/background is subservient.

      I’ve been reading and learning about various great souls. I’ve been so much impressed with Swami Vivekanad’s lectures. Thats one book I keep safe always. I don’t make freinds by first asking their last names. Though I know many people who do. I/we read books for its content and ideas and not for the cultural background of the author, unless thats what the book and story demands.

      I’ve been reading J. Krishnamurti’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti) lectures recently and they are intelligent, rich and deep, but this discussion “compulsively” led me to check on where he was from, what was his cultural background, which is such an IRONY given that I am trying to look at what community he belonged to for the person who claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy.

      Would you sometime later complain that there are more authors of a certain community, (like cuisines/movies) which need to be balanced/under-respresented? Appalling!

      I will unsbscribe from this thread before it corrputs me further.

      You can still contact me if you have something non-communal, non-prejudiced to say, and I’m assuming everyone here is smart enough to find where to contact me.

  34. phantom permalink
    December 23, 2009 2:22 am

    @ Jagmeet

    You hit on a very valid point.

    “The resolution to have more diverse cuisines should be (in my view, and which is my ONLY point) come from encouragement to others and NOT by the discouragement to the ones already there: >>> I thought my prev post made it clear that my view is NOT with regards to the belittlement of punju culture per se, and neither is punju characterization per se a negative thing. Also, my post never once insinuated that it is in any way the fault of the punju community at large, that we are seeing this massively disproportionate representation of punju culture in bollywood.

    But, as per your own words “come from encouragement to others” – isnt it the job of the Producers, directors, actors and other drivers of bollywood to take the onus of representing the other indian communities more equivalently in bollywood??? Shouldn’t THEY be the ones who recognize the true diversity in india, instead of pandering behind one culture only?? End of the day, I am only speaking of the sentiment of offence and indignation felt by non-punju patrons of bollywood who are MADE to feel by bollywood that other indian cultures are not worth representing on screen as much as punju culture….and that’s where the anger at bollywood seeps in, NOT anger at the punju community. It is perhaps a reflection of the relative docility of many non-punju communities in India, that this is being allowed to happen. I dare say if tamil cinema started representing too much of an external culture, things may not go down so well for tamil cinema producers/directors/actors.

    End of the day, cinema, especially a fickle, trend driven, material value based cinematic genre like bollywood, shall gyrate towards popular culture…and I will be the first to acknowledge that punju cultue, with its glitz, flamboyance and penchant for material sho-sharaba, definitely provides a higher degree of intrinsic visual appeal (from a movie makers perspective), than perhaps a more traditional and orthodox and less showy/gaudy culture (e.g. kannadiga, maharashtrian, gujju).

    • Guest permalink
      December 23, 2009 3:07 am

      @phantom..don’t mind but I can definitely predict that u r not from north India. Basically I generally don’t comment at blogs until and unless I see some seriously wrong information and obviously, of interest to me. And frankly speaking I find your comments very funny :)

      Your information about north India is very less as you read too much between punjabi dominance. Some or other culture obviously be a little more popular than others throughout history. It depends on the choice of the times, like current gen is fast paced, India loving, so Bhangra and punjabi music best fulfills their choice. See my reply above to ‘Vivek Mittal’ too. Just enjoy the films don’t read too much in everything.

    • December 23, 2009 10:29 pm

      “But, as per your own words “come from encouragement to others” – isnt it the job of the Producers, directors, actors and other drivers of bollywood to take the onus of representing the other indian communities more equivalently in bollywood???”

      phantom:
      Two questions for you.

      1. How will you measure this “more equivalently” in a quantitative manner?

      2. Why is it the job of producers et al to represent and define communities or cultures that they may be unfamiliar with? Do you not see any dangers in that? If one looks at the cultural diversity and history of each state in India, it’ll take decades to learn and imbibe the culture of any one particular state (or for that matter, sub-cultures in any state). What makes you think that those who are in the business of making films, have the capacity to a. learn about each specific culture, and b. represent it in films while balancing different requirements, like correct depiction, positive stereotyping (well, because, no one likes negative stereotyping), fairness, adherence to facts, artistic touch etc.? And a film also has to make money for its investors, or break even.

  35. Guest permalink
    December 23, 2009 2:55 am

    @phantom…

    this is not justified that only punjabi cuisine is popular..I don’t want to comment on others but please do not say that food from Uttar Pradesh , Delhi and Haryana is not popular. A lot of kababs , mughlai and tandoori come from UP,Delhi and this is attributed to the heavy mughal and other central asian influence in the region. Please come to Delhi, Lucknow,Agra and I will be very happy to treat you with delicious Shami Kabab , Kakori Kabab and many mughlai specialities like Roghan Josh, Murgh Musallam and many others. And don’t forget samosa, see the info on UP cuisine, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuisine_of_Uttar_Pradesh

    Basically being a north indian food lover, I also have a habit of reading a lot about the origins of food, like ‘kebabs’ and tandoori dishes were introduced in India by Mughals and other central asians and this is why I have tried various versions of indigenous kabas from Schweiz,Italy, Austria, Hungary, Turky to Iran and ofcourse Delhi, Lucknow, Jalandhar and famous shops in purani dilli. And its amazing to see how these versions vary from one end to other but basics are same. See kababs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kebabs

    Probably, one more observation that a lot of mughlai dishes esp. in Maharashatra and adjoining regions are referred as Punjabi dishes or you can say put in the category of Punjabi cuisine like Chicken Makhani will be more often called Chicken Butter Masala (however,at some places both are available with these names in bone and boneless forms). And similarly in drsses too Salwar Suit, Salwar kameez/Salwar kurta is called ‘Punjabi Dresses’ in this region. I feel the reason here is that people in this region are more ‘anti-Islamic’ than north indians so they better refer dishes more as Punjabi rather than Mughlai. BTW…I am a hindu :)

    The main difference between Mughlai/Awadhi and Punjabi cuisine is that there is more emphasis on mutton/lamb in mughlai while punjabi is more focussed on chicken. Veg is common in both through variatons of paneer.Also note, that its goat which is more popular in India than lamb but in west u’ll only get lamb and hardly goat/indian mutton :(

  36. phantom permalink
    December 23, 2009 3:25 pm

    @guest

    Hmm….of the time I lived in India, the bulk of it was up north, and I’m half from south and half from delhi..just to clarify, for what its worth.

    I can’t fathom why and how my ANALOGY re the food court (made purely in the context of the discussion re bollywood’s disproportionate rendering of a specific culture) has been interpreted as an opinion on indian cuisine ???

    But be that as it may, I concur with your points re the culinary depth and variety in UP cuisine, I am a huge fan of the lucknowi contribution to the indian palate :)

  37. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    December 31, 2009 8:50 am

    Hi!

    All you Bollywood enthusiasts may find the following alternative viewpoint interesting–or provocative:

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-next-decade-of-riskaverse-cinema/561715/4

    • January 1, 2010 1:42 am

      How does she explain the success of “Three Idiots”, which is quite different from the usual Bollywood fare?

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        January 1, 2010 6:46 am

        Amit,

        If your question is wrt my comment, I have not a clue, nor any desire to know. Even the link to the IE article I posted because I came across it. I couldn’t care less if bollywood sinks or swims. In fact I would be very happy if it got wiped off the face of the earth. My credo can be simply summed up:

        1. ‘Bollywood’ cannot be equated with all Indian cinema, only with cheap, popular, third-rate, Hindi films that do well at the box-office, and in which ‘stars’ with dubious talent get paid obscenely large amounts for shaking their bums and mouthing inane dialogues before the camera.

        2. If a Hindi film is considered good by people with civilised tastes, and wins awards other than those given by bollywood itself, or magazines etc. associated with it, then it does not classify as ‘bollywood’.

  38. rags permalink
    December 31, 2009 11:04 am

    That was an excellent article! Its so true, one good film sinks and we’re back to the old ways.

  39. January 2, 2010 1:02 pm

    \\If a Hindi film is considered good by people with civilised tastes……….. then it does not classify as ‘bollywood’\\

    To me any one who earns less than Rs 10 Lakh per annum is not an Indian..Only those who earn more than 10 Lakhs per annum are Indians………..
    Who says India is a poor country :)

    it’s so easy to make our own definitions for anything and be happy about it….Good Idea

  40. December 5, 2010 2:04 pm

    I really like Ranbir’s acting,he is an excellent actor

  41. December 18, 2012 2:04 pm

    nice review :)

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