Rocket Singh Presents the First of Many Mangoes
Ever since I started watching Bollywood films, Netflix has become my best friend. In fact, I am really lucky to be an American consumer in love with Bollywood. Apparently, it is very expensive to go to the movies over in India, and films are not very accessible to Indians online. Yet all I have to do is click my mouse a few times, and I have access to hundreds of Bollywood films at my fingertips. It really isn’t very fair, and I would be an ungrateful, wretched, consumerist American if I didn’t spread the love a little bit and give praise where praise is due.
Of course, Bollywood films have their faults, but you can adapt to them once you realize that your culture shock is due more to differences than deficiencies. In fact, if you want to try Bollywood films out, a good first sampler might be the 2009 film Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. It doesn’t do the conventional stuff that Americans get bent out of shape about, like being incredibly long or having characters that randomly break out into 10 minute songs. In fact, the film takes on a rather indie feel; the soundtrack has an edgy underground sound to it, the set designs are accessible and believable, and Ranbir Kapoor’s performance as the lead is skillfully and naturally executed.
One of the primary reasons I think Bollywood films are worth watching is because they are brimming with wisdom, and Rocket Singh is no exception. Here’s a quick synopsis, which proves that the premise alone offers a moral lesson. After barely graduating from college, slacker Hapreet Singh Bedi gets a job as a salesman at a computer supply store. After refusing to offer a bribe to a client, Singh is ostracized and made fun of by his coworkers for showing integrity, prompting him to strike back by starting his own, ethics-based company. Not only is the film a wonderful coming-of-age tale, but it also raises important questions concerning the place ethics have in the business world. As the people of the world are constantly watching dishonest business executives having their cake and eating it too (albeit from house arrest), many, no doubt, have a rather jaded outlook on making money. This movie really challenges our contemporary notion that you have to be a slime-ball to be successful in business.
So, Rocket Singh will definitely be the first of many mangoes. It’s not just enjoyable, but good for you, too. However, I will say that because it seems more Hollywood than Bollywood in many respects, Rocket Singh is more like a mango that was grown somewhere in southern Texas. But don’t worry, if you are looking for something refreshingly different, Rocket Singh still has it’s out-of-towner charm. I recommend surrendering to it. And if it leaves you wanting more movies like mangoes, don’t worry, I’ll have another recommendation next week.