Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year takes the topic of ethical business practices so seriously that it occasionally strays from cineplex fare into a university lecture. With such likable characters and actors, I wish the filmmakers had had more faith that they’d made their point through their storytelling.
Ranbir Kapoor plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, a recent college graduate whose low marks don’t qualify him for law school or med school like his friends. He opts for a job in sales, where he reasons that persistence and people skills matter more than high marks.
His first job at computer sales firm At Your Service (AYS) isn’t what he expects. Despite the name, the company seems to pride itself on charging customers exorbitant fees for minimal service. Worse, they land deals with bribes, something Harpreet’s Sikh upbringing won’t allow him to do.
Harpreet’s morals get him in to trouble with his bosses and coworkers, and it looks as though his first job in sales will be his last. But when he goes out of his way to help a cute small business owner, he realizes there’s a better way to treat customers. His covert business — Rocket Sales — takes off, with a little help from a few other disgruntled AYS employees.
Rocket Singh establishes from the beginning that the movie is going to take its time telling its story. The leisurely opening credits are set against the backdrop of slowly changing shots from the interior of the apartment Harpreet shares with his grandfather. The decor is outdated, but every knickknack exemplifies the grandfather’s life’s work and shows his pride in all that he’s earned.
The movie’s best moments involve Harpreet interacting with his co-conspirators: the unchallenged computer tech who spends his days looking at bikini-clad women on the Internet, the pretty receptionist who’s only valued for her looks, the disrespected office tea server. Like Harpreet, they all represent ways in which modern corporate culture devalues individuals.
At times, Rocket Singh deals with this dehumanization with a heavy hand. Copious examples of Harpreet being put down by his boss and coworkers make the movie drag. Harpreet’s college pals ask him at one point why he doesn’t quit his job at AYS, and in truth, he probably only stays because the plot demands it. The movie’s climax is an unnecessary lecture on the importance of treating customers and employees with respect, as that’s what the whole film was about.