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Rocket Singh Cheers Sikhs

Discussion in 'Sikh Youth' started by Admin Singh, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Deconstructing the image of the Sikhs in Bollywood, Rocket Singh Salesman of the year focuses on the quality of honesty which is generally overstepped for aggressiveness to achieve sales goals. After a very long time, a Bollywood movie has shown the Sikhs in proper light, also mentioning the qualities of Sikhs in the dialogues here and there. Will this movie bring about the sea-change the Sikhs are looking for?
    With many more movies with Sikh characters, including a sequel to Singh is King on the cards slated for next year, it is hoped that Bollywood will learn more about Sikhs and Sikhs, as has Ranbir Kapoor, Shimit Amin and Jaydeep Sahni done, before framing Sikh characters.
    This letter by a Mumbai Sikh resident to the producers of the movie exemplifies the sentiments of young Sikhs who yearn to see a good Sikh portrayal. Readers are invited to share their views on the movie and this letter of praise sent by by Charanjit Singh to the writer and director of the movie.

    Dear Shimit Amin and Jaydeep Sahni I hope this letter finds you in a relaxed mood when a year long effort of yours has come to fruition and is seeing the light of the day.
    I write to you, not, as a regular film buff or as a seasoned movie critic as I would be failing on either of those counts but as a Sikh, who off late has been too scared to go to watch a movie on a big screen in the company of 200 people. The fear of being laughed at, the fear of seeing a Sikh as a centre of buffoonery in the movie, has always lurked, in my mind, every now and then.
    Today, your movie has not only energized me as a sales person but has also given me one more reason to feel at home with my Sikh attire.
    I urge you to indulge with me a little back in space and time so I may explain to you the much deserved praise that Rocket Singh is truly worthy of.
    Guru Nanak’s adage of Kirat Karo –work honestly is the benchmark for any Sikh venturing to make a living. Be it a business, job or entrepreneurship, honest work is the first principle, followed by Vandh Chako –share it with those in need, what is nowadays called corporate responsibility. Not to forget that all this begins with dwelling on God’s Name –Naam Japo –remembrance of God Almighty through whose Grace one gets work and progresses in life. When I saw the movie, I thought that like Ranbir Kapoor’s unknown friend, who worked on his image, you two have done your homework well and that was most satisfying because such eye for detail is rare and missing in Bollywood as in life. I am sure that the generational roots of Sikhism, which Ranbir Kapoor has many a time talked about in the media, may have ensured his gait and performance as a Sikh. Relentless struggle in the face of defeat and challenge is another trait which the Sikhs have learnt in their history through hard work and multitude of sacrifices.
    I write to you, not, as a regular film buff or as a seasoned movie critic as I would be failing on either of those counts but as a Sikh, who off late has been too scared to go to watch a movie on a big screen in the company of 200 people. The fear of being laughed at, the fear of seeing a Sikh as a centre of buffoonery in the movie, has always lurked, in my mind, every now and then.
    India as a country or Indians as a people, more than any other medium are influenced by the visual arts. Movies are not only entertainment for an average Indian but they impact his/her life to an extent, which no other medium has been able to affect.
    In this scenario the stereotypical portrayal of a Sikh as a clown in every second Bollywood movie is not only a dampener for the Sikh’s self-esteem but also goes a long way in projecting and perpetuating a Sikh’s clown-like image to the entire world. Much of this portrayal is deliberate and there are ample reasons to believe that there are vested interests behind this.
    In such a background, Harpreet Singh Bedi stands out on his red-coloured scooty and his beautiful, colourful turbans. This Sardar Ji is highly soft spoken, displays leadership qualities, conducts business in an ethical manner, falls in love and is even comfortable in army print shorts. Somewhere you feel that being a ‘Sikh’ and being ‘hep’ can go together.
    What was lacking in the Sikh portrayal till now, or to put it the other way, what Sikhs expected of Bollywood is to show them someone like you and me. There is no doubt that some stereotyping is still there –the improper beard and the oblique reference to Sikhs as jokers. I only hope that successive film makers will make more improvisations and the Sikh image will not take a beating.
    More than anything else, I appreciate the fact that the movie came from a production house which has long been known for its acerbity towards Sikhs. Be it the good old days of Silsila or the young Mohabbatien or the recent Dil Bole Hadippa.
    You may have come across these, but let me reiterate what other Sikhs are saying in various newspapers and forums, “So far, the hero or any character with a turban is the comic element in the plot. He is never depicted as someone with as much panache as the other clean shaven heroes who are macho, fly machines and save the girls from the goons," says Satwinder Singh, a sales person in a pharmaceutical company.

    Preet Arjun Singh, who works in the marketing division of an IT company, says Ranbir's character is etched very close to real life and depicts the strife that a sales job brings. "Sikhs were the original sales persons because of their diligence and capability to think innovatively. A maxim in our culture says - if you want to sell something, give it to a Punjabi," adds Jagdish Singh, another salesman.
    Harpreet Singh, barring Bollywood tradition, doesn’t speak Hindi or English with a Punjabi overtone, doesn’t indulge in frivolity which makes him easy target of jokes.
    More than anything else, I appreciate the fact that the movie came from a production house which has long been known for its acerbity towards Sikhs. Be it the good old days of Silsila or the young Mohabbatien or the recent Dil Bole Hadippa.
    The acclaim goes to both of you in successfully reversing this trend.


    Today I am sure this movie will have influence, amongst others, on two sections in the society. One is the Sikhs because you made them feel great, the other is young guys beginning their stint with the corporate ladder and somewhere cherishing the entrepreneurial dream. Since I happen to be a part of both these groups, for me, this is a movie of the year –the coming New Year. I will usher in the New Year with a good feeling.
    Lastly, with all bouquets and praises for you, for all you did to create the Ranbir magic on screen one can’t ignore the actual Ranbir for one of the most brilliant performances, ever. The impeccable turban, the carrying of Sikh persona with such dignity and respect, has certainly given us a lot of solace and satisfaction. As one of the Bollywood websites put it, “Rocket Singh has deconstructed the Sikh image in Bollywood.” And even more. Rarely does a Bollywood movie make it to the New York Times. In the first few days of its release, NYT has called it, “a smart, focused Bollywood movie.” The movie, it says further, “dispenses with Bollywood’s normal tangle of subplots and mashup of genres. There’s music, but no big production numbers. Even romance is back-burnered.”
    Wishing you all the best for your future endeavors. Hope this movie is a milestone for Sikh portrayal in Bollywood. Like everyone else, we too desire an honest, human and true to life characterization and not in the spirit of Irish jokes.

    With best regards,
    Charanjit Singh
     

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  3. dalbirk

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    The Movie Rocket Singh really shows Sikh character in a very positive light . This must be encouraged so that producers don't resort to Old stereo typing of Sikhs in future . However I feel that Prime Minister Manmohan singh has done Sikhs a proud through his thinking & clean image , most Indians feel that Sikhs are to be relied upon in matters of money & they are generally honest .
     
  4. AusDesi

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    Watching it atm. So far a good film.
     
  5. Admin Singh

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    This is a was really good film catching the imagination of abused, trashed and exploited Indian working middle class... an intelligent film for elite viewers but not a masala film for ordinary Indian masses to make it a smash hit. And, i felt so proud to watch it. I sincerely hope the trend continues... Sikhs are amongst the real life Heroes of shaping present India's destiny (in the last millennium) and if any country's Heros are not revered in their own country then that is most unfortunate and we have already seen the fallout. Much more effort is needed to heal the wounds of Sikhs and earn back their confidence.
     

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