Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rockstar - A Review

"Jim Morrison showed the middle finger to the crowd, and they loved it, and here i am trying to entertain people, by singing at the bus stand, and i get beaten by the cops", says Janardhan Jakhar. The scene defines the tone of the movie. Fun times in the present situation and deep suffering ahead. For J.J must face the trials and tribulations in his ascent to the top of stardom. Pain brings out the best in artists. This is the defined truth. So the young man chooses the easy way out by asking out a stephenian in desi style and then trying to experience false pain, little knowing that this will actually turn into unavoidable an skeleton in his closet for life. There is eventual friendship and Heer has J.J as a friend helping her out in her lowly ordeals, as she tries to break out of her high society lifestyle. From watching semi porn in theatres, to gulping desi daaru and till her kashmiri wedding, J.J turned Jordan stays true to her and the friendship, even though we find traces of helpless attraction and love while this part of the act approaches the curtains.

The movie complements it's non linear narrative, with coherent links in the story, thereby giving the audience short spans of time to ponder over the current state of things and then quickly solving their inquisitiveness. This was somewhat a technique shown in Ali's last venture "Love Aaj Kal", although it had two protagonists and hence different stories trying to draw metaphors. This is a different ball game, and it works beautifully. The main catalyst being the wonderful music of A.R.Rahman woven into the story. So that's how we see Jordan crooning to "Jo Bhi Main....." possibly the soul song of the protagonist, at different stages in his auditions, amongst a yuppy crowd in Prague, in the Dargah etc..

So the heartbreak is real, and we see the rise of Jordan. Brilliant singer, unruly by nature, broken heart, harmed innocence ready to strike back at every given oppurtunity and crooning wide-eyed with guitar in hand. "Sangeetkar geetkar kuch nahin hota...bas ek Image hota hai" says the music company owner. Well, our man gets it right !! With new found stardom, Jordan makes it to Prague, to be with his lost soulmate and the two hit it off right where they left. So the junglee jawani days are back, the fun they had as two carefree souls. The longing and desire give way to passion and the eventual separation happens yet again....

The bad boy gets worse from hereon. Further success brings further self destruction. The simple Jat boy is hounded by fans wherever he goes and the fame monster has the better of him, when he visits his friends and becomes a victim of an incessant photo shoot rather than heartfelt camaraderie. So contracts are broken and honest attempts are made to create timeless music collaborating with a legendary musician, which IMO is a fine piece of musical jugalbandi (The dichotomy of fame) and the restlessness continues until fate brings the soul mates together finally trying to spend life together coping with one tragedy and another. It is when Heer comes to Jordan's life, that he sheds the feathers of arrogance and indifference and transforms into the same innocent boy he was when they first met. This happens everytime, baring the phase where Jordan gets into his demanding self and falls prey to his desires for Heer and is thus termed selfish.  Selfish he is not, as we all know, dedicating his life to the woman he loved, lost, won and then finally..........

There is a scene where Jordan confesses his craze for Heer, and gives his reasons of why they should get together. Here too he is restrained and we do not see a hint of pathos or angst, neither a blatant account of his sacrifices. There's another scene, when he is picked out of a brothel and then tries explaining his condition to his manager. He does use terms to describe what he is feeling, why there is no sense of accomplishment...but you get the feel that there is a lot more he wants to say but is not able to. Thus the lyrics say - "Jo bhi main kehna chaahoon ...barbaad karein alfaaz mere" (Words destroy the meaning of what i really want to convey). This phenomena, gives rise to confusion internally. And when the guy is a simpleton, pure of heart and feels wronged as such..his defense mechanisms come into the foray and he gets violent. There are no pangs of drug abuse or self imposed hallucinations. It's all real, and it's all painfully beautiful.

Ranbir Kapoor in one word "excels". Quite frankly, after watching his performance, i cannot believe if any other thespian in the present hindi film industry can portray this role as honestly and execute a flawless performance as sincerely. Watching him wide eyed, tears shining, while he goes into a high pitch during the rendition of Kun faya Kun at the dargah, or Naadan Parindey at the live performance. Feel his angst during Saada Haq or laugh at his lovable mannerisms when he plays the bumpkin in the beginning, the man is tailor made for the role. We also get to see the beautiful and much talked about Nargis Fakhri making her debut. She plays her role with great flair and control. Sheer beauty on screen and decent diction and dialogue delivery make her as one of the actresses to watch out for in the coming times. Good support cast by Kumud Mishra (Khatara Bhai) and Aditi Rao Hyder, whose role from a reporter to a star manager is a little contrived and gets confused in the moving narrative and surely has seen the editing scissors. The music is the parallel lead of the film and Rahman can be praised only as much possible, to give us another complete album after Delhi 6. This one too, has variety, depth and popular songs. Mohit Chauhan is the voice of Rockstar and does full justice to the vocals. Finally, the man Imtiaz Ali, earns another feather in his cap. It takes a director of his stature to give the kind of ending the movie deserved. This one is right on top as his earlier works.

I wish, there aren't any comparisons with Rock-On. I wish people stop demanding more "Rock" out of the music and enjoy the melody. I hope people understand that the title of the movie isn't to be taken very literally. It is about a "Rockstar" indeed, but it is more about the artist behind the image, his life, his love and his story. These are a few things that came to my mind as the audience was leaving hurriedly chatting, towards the exits while the movie had ended and the best romantic number was playing on screen. This movie has enough heart and hope the audiences fathom and reciprocate the same.


  1. Brilliantly written . It does bring out the best parts of Rockstar as a movie. But certain parts I disagree with.

    Nargis Fakhri is beautiful i agree , but her Eyebrows-raised-for-every-emotion act does not impress me as much.
    I would have felt much more angst if they had not blurred the Tiber part in the Free Tibet banner during the Sadaa Haq song. Ironic considering the song is about Freedom of Expression .

    I loved the experiment with the non-linear time line, true , but as with all experiment i felt this required much more perfection. This is no Tarantino work. At times you feel the story is jumping ahead at paces the audience can keep up with and at times it moved too slowly.

    Having said that, movies like Rockstar need to be made and thus need to be appreciated. For the simple selfish reason , we get to see better made movies with clinical execution which broach on themes which we never get in a Hindi movie. We have had one too many dance around the trees and one too many "inspired" movies.
    Ranbir Kapoor "excels" as you say. I haven't seen many a better performance in recent years which compare to his "Jordan".
    The soul of the movie remains intact and two guys Rahman and Mohit Chauhan make sure of that.

    I had hoped for a much better movie. And that is why i was dissapointed in the end. But all in all one of the better made movies of this year.

  2. hey Sanket, nice explanation from you and respect the points. Even i had a feeling of the movie being much darker and deeper into self destruction, as promised by the bath-tub scene with guitar burning. But some how the failed love story made up for the deficiencies for me. Will give Nargis that discount of excitement in dialogue delivery a bit as this is her first outing, but u'd agree this is a far better job by any new comer standards, although mebbe not in the league of Abhay Deol - Ayesha Takia in Socha na tha.
    Some scenes did require stretching and hence carried on to get the feel. I was still disappointed by the time chosen as the interval. It broke the momentum of Ranbir showing his deep passion and once the movie resumed after the break, it did look a little forced and unromantic.