12 November 2011 | vikas_rawat
'Rockstar' leaves you with a feel-good hangover of itself, that is hard to digest at first watch.
Love stories have always been Bollywood's thing. A trifle here and there might have changed over the years, but the formulaic love story, the one that we've all grown up on and savored, always takes you by the hand, guides you through the film's ups and downs and leaves you at an ending. But when you have a story as new, as fresh and as free-falling as the one in Imtiaz Ali's 'Rockstar', then these are times that herald a new change in today's Bollywood.
The story goes something like this. Janardhan Jakkad(JJ a.k.a Jordan), a Delhi simpleton, has always wanted to be a rockstar. His friend/mentor and college canteen manager, Khatana, gives him a 'get-your-heart-broken-and-you-will-be-a-rockstar' solution. JJ automatically aims for the prettiest chick on campus, Heer, sure to have his heart broken. But what follows is a story that goes from a simple one of fame-mongering to a love story most unusual. The chapter of Jordan and Heer never seems to end and their complexities take them on a path that would ultimately destroy their lives.
It is very difficult to characterize the movie with a single emotion. It is so beautifully layered that it will take repeated viewings to form a consensus within yourself as to WHY you love the film. Just like its soundtrack, 'Rockstar' is a movie you will have to allow to grow on you. The film can best be described as a heady cocktail of love and fame and how each has an effect on the other. It's the free-falling nature of the story that gives it a feeling never before experienced in Indian cinema. The movie borders on self-indulgence every once in a while but wonderfully balances it out with realism.
The music, composed by A.R. Rahman, is in many ways a character in the film. Every phase of Jordan's life is characterized by a song which magically sets the tone for the next few minutes, till the next song or sequence comes along and changes the mood. The music, in many ways, drives the film. Its very obvious now why Imtiaz Ali replaced usual collaborator Pritam with Rahman. Without the type and scale of the music Rahman has given for this film, 'Rockstar' would have been very handicapped. The music truly forms the soul of the film. Also, from the snow covered mountains of Kashmir and Himachal and the dingy discotheques to the old-architecture of Prague and the various concert venues, the film looks beautiful in almost every shot, thanks to ace cinematographer Anil Mehta. The right variations in angle, color and focus gives the film a biographical feel where the scenes portray an emotion as much as the actors in them do.
Which brings me to the performances. The film has few characters and each of them are well-defined. Aditi Rao plays the journalist Sheena, who tracks Jordan's life and though she has precious little to do, she plays her part. Piyush Mishra as the shrewd record company owner Dhingra, is the quintessential greedy man in the film and does well too. Kumud Mishra as Khatana, Jordan's old friend and manager is perfect and brings in a certain sincerity and authenticity to his part. Shammi Kapoor as the shehnai maestro Ustad Jameel Khan is absolutely charming every time he appears on screen. It is hard to miss the glint in his eye and these being his last shots, will always be what 'Rockstar' will be remembered for. Now for the two lead actors. Nargis Fakri is unfortunately, the weakest link in the film. She obviously has a lot to learn in the acting department. She blatantly disappoints in scenes where she is required to do more than just look pretty, and ends up as the cold dish in 'Rockstar'. Nonetheless, she does look good in every frame and with better acting, could go places. With her current form, she will find it tough to make a mark.
However, 'Rockstar' completely belongs to Ranbir Kapoor, who has clearly gives this film his all. He plays his part with utmost perfection and with a depth that is so rare in Bollywood these days. Through the film, it is Jordan, and not Ranbir Kapoor, that we see on screen. He earnestly brings out the character transition from JJ to Jordan with such ease, that this could very well be his career-defining performance. He's clearly left his contemporaries WAY behind. Ranbir Kapoor, as of now, owns Bollywood.
Having dared to make such an experimental film, director Imtiaz Ali is truly the new-age doyen of Indian Cinema. His refreshing take on love stories, from 'Jab We Met' to 'Love Aaj Kal', continues with 'Rockstar' which will be remembered for a long time as the first movie of its kind. Truly original and truly inspired from all the right sources, Imtiaz Ali is the new age phenomenon of modern love in cinema.
Truly magical and spell-binding, 'Rockstar' leaves you with a feel-good hangover of itself, that is hard to digest at first watch. I'd give it a 4/5.