15 November, 2011

Movie review "Rock Star": A Wonderful Self Indulgence

What does one expect to see in a movie titled Rock star?  Rock & Roll …possibly, a bio-pic of a Rock musician…most likely but in director Imtiaz Ali’s imagination it’s just that a title for a movie and the movie is a love story. Disappointed are you at this simplistic assessment…don’t be. It is in the style of the telling that this movie works at a sublime level.

Movie making is one of the most collaborative of modern art forms. It is like one large kingdom made up of many fiefdoms, who contribute to the well being of the product. And when there abounds ownership & co-operation amongst each other while executing their parts, the complete set up can jump into a level that is ethereal. Imtiaz Ali achieves this magical fusion with A.R.Rahman, Irshad Kaamil, Ranbir Kapoor and Mohit Chauhan. This is the band that truly rocks the movie and justifies the title.

How does a simple guitar playing Hindu College student Janardan Jakar aka JJ  transform into the complex phenomenon called Jordan?. 
JJ keeps giving lots of eartime to his college canteen manager and resident Obi Wan Kenobi who along with samosas feeds him some desi wisdom of how real rock stars were born out of broken hearts & pain (all this while Jim Morrison is staring at you from posters) Thus he sets out to acquire it. It is here he runs into a Stephens college girl Heer ( Nargis Fakhri, very pretty & charming but stiff and awkward too) . An interesting friendship shapes up between the Hindu College boy and the Stephens college girl and there begins his journey. It is in the portrayal of JJ that Ranbir Kapoor has come of age as an actor of serious merit. His talent was obvious in his earlier works but the sheer range of what makes JJ into Jordan as essayed by Kapoor is what makes this movie. It is the complete package from the look of a young college boy (costumes designed by Aki Nirula, Manish Malhotra ) to the eyes that lose their innocent charm and grow sadder, deeper and display a confused angst, the eyes are vocal. Ranbir as Jordan breathes life and raw energy into the character of JJ & Jordan and never once does he falter.The manner in which he caresses his guitar, the way he strides onto stage for a performance, his awkward hugs & kisses, his erupting violence it is a masterful act. 

It is an awkward character who is inarticulate and the communication is clear only in his music. This musical soul of the whole ride is encapsulated by the poet Kamil in one line “Jo Bhi Main , Keh Na Chahu, Barbaad Karey, Alfaaz Mere”. This movie is neither cerebral nor linear.One actually may have to feel the film rather than merely watch it. It is almost like a collage of sequences put together. These frames sometimes overlap, some times are sequential but wonderfully carry the story ahead. It is a serious film and its soul is musical which draws the viewer in. A.R.Rahman's musical genius needs no telling but it is in this album that he throws at us a wide variety of gems ( Sadda Haq & Jo Bhi Main have a true blue rock flavor of the Rolling Stones genre - Satisfaction, Kun Faya Kun is a sufiyana beauty, Nadaan Parindey and Phir Se Ud Chala are soulfully rendered songs by Mohit) The music created shall make this album a collector’s item for a long time to come irrespective of the fate of the film. It is pure. Do grab the album if unable to see the film and grab it even if you do.

Yet with all the rock music and wonderful locations through which Jordan travels it stays a love story.The language of the storytelling is musical though from the words of Kaamil & compositions of Rahman. The intensity would have heightened had Fakhri been a better performer but she doesn’t make the cut. It is all left to Ranbir and he does a splendid job by himself. It would have been enough had the movie been shorter but Imtiaz Ali like most directors has seriously self indulged in assigning a longer time span to the lead pair thereby losing the plot someplace. He ends up reducing the performance of  Shernaaz Patel and a lot of others ( Heer’s mom ) into cameos. Another is of the late Shammi Kapoor who plays a shehnai master ( Jameel Khan ) who spots the talent of JJ thereby easing his passage into the recorded music world. This is his last movie yet the fire in the elder Kapoors eyes has not dimmed from his hey days in Junglee. Fitting it is that a small semi porn film seen by Heer & JJ has the title "Junglee Jawani". We have the regular humdrum caricatures of the mean parasitic music moghul  ( they just cant be anything else, Rock On gave us a balance of both the good one and bad one) here we are left with a badly wigged loudmouth( Piyush Mishra, hamming away ). Aditi Rao Hydari looks pretty in her part which is slightly bigger than her "Delhi 6" one and with lines and it may just get her noticed for larger parts. Anil Mehta’s camera weaves its magic in capturing the magic of the urban centers of Delhi, Mumbai and Prague to the snow filled beauty of Kashmir and the frames leaves one breathless.The frames are dew fresh.

What doesn’t work for the movie is its length( 18 reels and a full 190 mins ).No fault of the editor though she has done a splendid job, it is Ali letting the reins loose. 


What works is an innate honesty to the central character. It may not be Imtiaz Ali’s finest work to date but when it comes to romance his grip on the sensitivity of portrayals is as good as any one like say a Yash Chopra . Chopra had his romp in the mustard fields of the Punjab, the tulips & daffodils of Switzerland, Well its Ali's turn now to have his motorcycle rides on snow banked roads of Himachal/ Dalhousie/ Kashmir…every maker is allowed his foible which can even become a trademark. 


Finally If a question is asked whether this movie should be seen at all , Yes it must, definitely for one Mr.Ranbir Kapoor  & one Mr. A.R.Rahman. It is a journey for your senses. You too are entitled to indulge yourself :-)

5 comments:

SA said...

Your review like your thoughts is crystal clear. You must be bored with all the compliments already so I'll move on to the movie.

I loved the music and felt that I saw a very talented actor perhaps a matured actor in Ranbir's performance. Had it not been him, the leading lady had the capacity to make the experience very sour for the ears... but he carried her along very nicely. Imtiaz did a very good job... though I felt we couldve known more on the transformation phase of wannabe singer to rockstar stage of ranbir. in the end its the music that drowned my soul and ranbir's acting that I remember most from this film.
Kept thinking if kajol or kareena had played the lead role, how it would have made this experience even better... for that matter even vidya balan or any other leady with depth.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Lol Shazia...No number of compliments can be boring...I personally thought that this review may seem a wee bit garbled.. But whew...somebody could & did make sense of it...for this a thousand thousanddd tannnkkkss...like the Na'vi beings in Jim Camerons Avataar who tune in to the ( home tree) mother earth using their tails, some movies and stories require a similar kind of engagement..This was one such...and writing a review after that can become actually tough

Imtiaz Ali could have spent a little more time on the transformation for sure...he did consume enough reels of cinema otherwise anyways :-)

To dwell a bit more now that u have raised the point on Imtiaz's ladies...Nargis Fakhri is a serious error , she looks the part as required but doesnt deliver the emotional punch as is required .Giselli in 'Kal aaj aur Kal' was used much better by him & she delivered too, a part that didn't have her saying much actually & where she ended up looking more Indian than Deepika there...The others right from Ayesha Takia ( Socha Na Tha ), Kareena ( Jab We Met ) have done splendidly well in the roles etched out for them.It takes a special director who can touch base with Romantic stories & emotional content and Imtiaz Ali has carved his name very surely in this list...

In a romantic film a director has to find a rhythm fast and hold on to it tightly, else nothing can be more "bheja pakauing" than a meandering love story...there are these gaps in Rockstar...

Anand Kumar said...

We must congratulate Rockstar team for excellent handling of press and media. All the reviews which I have seen have given 4 stars for this superlatively mediocre movie.
Some real reasons why Rockstar doesnt work.
1) Too long and predictable
2) Illogical back and forth flashbacks and flashforwards and events
3) Absolutely stale story. Imtiaz needs a break
4) Rockstar as a culture is hard to connect. We, indians have habit to make gods out of celebrities. Wont be comfortable with celebrity showing middle finger to masses
5) No matter how good Ranbir acts, his personality doesnt suit the rockstar image. He tries hard but simply speaking his looks and body language is bit too a 'softy' kind
6) New gal is terrible. Dont knw why bollywood is so obssesed with someone from west. Even Ekta Kapoor TV serial actor would do a better justice to her role. When she speaks on the screen....we all YAWN big time
7) Had high hopes from Imtiaz but now started beliveing that he peaked during 'jab we met' and will survive in the industry for 25 years because of one super sucess.
Some highpoints of the movie:
1) AR Rahman.....Sir, u rock. What a background score. Reminds of Roja when camera takes a long shot of snow ladden trees in kashmir and czec republic. And Faya Kun is so soothing..Dunno how u manage to deliver winners one after other..keep it up sir
2) Mohit Chauhan..got success so late but gems glitter no matter what. For some it takes few more years than the rest.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

:-) Anand , you have said it all and more

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