Jaideep Sahni – The Rocket Singh I know

Posted: December 13, 2009 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, life, Thoughts
Tags: , ,

In an industry where every director wants the writing credit and every writer wants to turn director, they are a perfect pair. Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni. And they are confident about each other’s talent. When they picked up all the possible awards for Chak De India, the first name that Shimit would mention in his ‘thank you’ speech was Jaideep Sahni. Not Yashraj, Shah Rukh, Aditya Chopra or anyone else, like other suckers of bollywood would happily do. Because he knows that the lanky lad who still looks like a fresh graduate just out of an engineering college, knows some rocket science for sure.

In our filmy friends circle, we all have one common cinema taste. We HATE Yashraj Films and their brand of cinema. And we have one common curiosity. Why is Jaideep Sahni still there ? Right man at the wrong place ? Now we know why.

Slowly and steadily, the man is pushing for his kind of cinema. Otherwise who can ever imagine a film like Rocket Singh to come out of the same factory. No Manish Malhotra heroines, no song and dance routine (no music = big revenue loss), no glamour quotient, no foreign locales and almost no love story! So many unknown faces who look like you and me. Ok, punjabi factor is there but never before has a punjabi character looked so normal. No bhangra-shangra, balle-balle or hadippa! This cant be an easy task from the big bullies of bollywood who are known for their money minting phillum formula. This needs conviction, a very strong one.

The duo proved it with Chak De India (CDI), the film which even Shah Rukh Khan wasnt confident about. Who would come to see him in scruffy beard, check shirts and without overcoat! Nobody came for Swades. And to top that, he is not even romancing anyone, but teaching hockey to some unknown group of girls and none of them were “hot and sexy” according to either YRF or bollywood’s dictionary. But then, its showbiz and as Goldman said, nobody knows anything! Shah Rukh Khan got the intial crowd but as we left the theatre we knew Bindiya Naik, Komal Chautala, Vidya Sharma, Aliya Bose, Preety Sabharwal and even Krishnaji! Jaideep’s pen made those unknown faces mightier than SRK! The numbers at the box office re-confirmed it.

Like all other sports film, CDI was full of cliches but still it worked. To make cliches work is one of the most difficult things and with a sports like Hockey, which may be our national game but is least popular, it was more daunting task. For better answer, ask the makers of Goal. They had Football, Johnny-Bipasha baby and still messed up the most successful formula.

But what was that “sattar minute” ? Too much lecturebaazi, I remember telling Jaideep after its release. Unlike others, he always has an ear for criticism. He said, “we have become too cynical, too corrupt. But in sports, its still the same. The ideals, the morals, the sportsmanship. You know, for us, when they play the national anthem in the theatre, we feel least interested but the sports guys they still get goosebumps. Its life and death for them. When they get into the field, they still feel like going to the battlefield.” I smiled and noded. His honesty and the way he said those words disarmed me. He said he didnt know this world. So, he went into hiding, stayed in the hostels of Sports Authority Of India (SAI), met people and put them on paper. They look and feel so real because they are from real life. Its lot of hardwork of last few years.

You may hate the company he works for but you cant hate the man. Because he is among those rare few who is still like Rocket Singh. He doesnt fake it. Ask Anurag Kashyap, the man who is most vociferous about the YRF brand of cinema. Say Jaideep Sahni and he will nod his head. Because its all for good cinema. He also knows that Sahni knows some rocket science for sure.

Khosla Ka Ghosla, Chakh De India and Rocket Singh – Salesman Of the Year, these three are Jaideep’s baby, from idea to script, casting to its release, he was involved with almost everything. He was commisioned to work on others like Jungle, Company, Bunty Aur Babli and Aaja Nachale. And Jaideep credits all to his good luck, “From the beginning, I always got a chance to work with such directors who were willing to give me a free hand. More than I asked for. From recee to casting to design, I would get involved and nobody would feel insecure about it.” No, I dont remember reading any so called struggle of Jaideep Sahni ever. As a friend said it was too simple for Harpreet Singh. But then sometimes good things do happen to good people. Moral Education ? Thats paase! Do they still have it in school syllabus ?

2006. They were busy shooting the music video of Khosla Ka Ghosla, just before its release. The film was lying in the cans for long time. Met him on the shooting location and still remember his words “Its like my polio inflicted child. Needs more care. Others have big supporters, big selling points. They know how to run. Its easy for them to win but if this one even gets to run a little somehow, I will be very happy. Its different kind of happiness.” Who would have ever imagined that polio had such magic.

2007. I was dying to watch Aaja Nachale because of Madhuri Dixit but didnt like it much. What was it ? Got too messy ? And you got bad reviews too. “Yaar, I agree with every review. I know what they are saying and why they are saying. You know, people say they have hidden agendas and all. I dont know them, they dont know me, what hidden agenda ? Everyone loves good cinema. All we can do is to keep trying for our best.” I was LOL. Still havent met anyone who is so receptive to criticism. Ask those with million dollar duds. They blame it all on the stars, the critics’ stars.

So what went wrong ? “The story was already there. The main story. Madhuri’s comeback and all that. I could not do much there. I was told to set up the village/small town, the characters there and I did my best with that.” And talking of the town, I still remember the story of Vinay Pathak and Sushmita Mukherjee. The most beautiful track in the film. Its this world that Sahni knows best. The Khoslas and The Khurans. Middle class aims, aspirations, dreams, dilemmas, morals, ideals.  And so in all three of his films (KKG, CDI, RS-SOTY), his characters move in similar domain.

In KKG, the middle class Khosla family is forced to take the wrong turn to fix the wrong guy. Anupam Kher doesnt agree. Navin Nischol is shit scared. But the fun is on the run. Its a similar world in Rocket Singh. After Rocket sells the first computer by cheating the company, he comes back home and wants to order pizza. But when his Grandfather gets him to matha-tek Guru Nanak Dev, the pizza dream vanishes. Middle class morality may seem old-fashioned now but those who know it and have ever experienced it, know that its still there, somewhere in one corner. We just dont have any time for it. And if in doubt, ask your dad. Like my Grandma still keeps on reminding me “sukh ke picche mat bhaag, shaanti zaroori hai, mann ki shanti.” If only Grandma knew how good burgers and pizza taste and how expensive they are!

Jaideep started his career in bollywood after dabbling in computer engineering, advertising, image building, ad filmmaking and writing songs for some pop bands. Some great songs happend then. Remember Euphoria’s maaeri ? Or Shubha Mudgal’s pop number. A musician who knows him since his delhi days told me once, “they played smart and ditched him many times. If it was an album, they would put four songs of theirs and two of his. But see where is he now. He doesnt need them.” And “them” are also in bollywood. 

No, not trying to give him demi-god status or make him holier-than-thou but thats the man I know. Thats what I have heard, read and experienced. The man is as good as his cinema, much like Raj Kumar Hirani. They are the two Rocket Singhs of the industry. Ask any sane man in the industry and I guess they will agree. Because its not difficult to spot the tinkle in the eyes of an honest artist.

And why does a story interests a writer ? From where does a writer gets his stories ? From his life, his world, unless you are born and bought up in the lanes of Lokhandwala where there is no life and there is no world. Cinema is your only reference. Otherwise no apple falls from a tree for any eureka moment. There is little Italy in Martin Scorsese’s cinema and spain in Pedro Almodovar’s work. Closer home, there is Meerut’s kill thrill in Bhardwaj’s cinema, politics in Sudhir Mishra’s cinematic genes and Delhi in Dibakar’s filmy DNA. Otherwise such honesty would never come on screen. What comes from inside is easy to spot. Rest all is derivative. 

In this cynical world of cut-throat competition, its difficult to believe that Rocket Singh can exist and survive. Because character certificate is not cool anymore. But till the middle class believes in celebrating the values and ethics, lets celebrate Rocket Singh. Spiderman is impossible but Rocket Singh is not that difficult. Lets try.

(PS – Dont remember the quotes word by word but its more or less the same)

Comments
  1. Kumar Gautam says:

    I even know some playwrights who have no respect for filmi writing and writer, talking highly about Jaideep…that’s really a great compliment.

  2. mogambo says:

    Who, pray, are you though? You always describe yourself as ‘someone from the industry’, ‘pals with some big names’ and such…

  3. Kenny says:

    Thanks a lot for this write-up. Watched Rocket Singh today and really felt like having a talk with Jaideep Sahni himself. This will do for now 🙂

  4. dazedandconfused says:

    Nice one man…

  5. moifightclub says:

    @Gautam – yes, easily one of the best.
    @mogambo – aao guess karein!
    @kenny @dazedandconfused – thnx guys!

  6. mogambo says:

    You Bikas Mishra eh?

  7. Rahul Sharma says:

    Hi
    I am big Fan of Jaideep Sahni. The way he connects with middle class , probably the Delhi feel . There is this strong connection one gets. And I am highly impresses with his mahire song. I mean he is typical born and brought up in DElhi (south delhi) middle class punjabi kid and he knows waaris shah heer , and gave it focus . I am impressed . You rock Jaideep Sahni . I have heard you are St Columbo and DCE graduate . You got be on wikipedia , would like to know more about you . I even enjoyed the flavouring you gave to bunty and babli and trust Anushka looked perfect in RNBDJ. I am also a delhite and ya of punjabi origin (amritsar too be specific) , but a North DElhi kid not south Delhi.

  8. rajasen says:

    He the man. Nice piece, dude. The appreciation was required.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think even Ranbir kapoor deserves some praise for being brave enough to choose this script.

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