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ROCKSTAR A Rebel Sings

© Hindi Cinema Blog

When Imtiaz Ali's film Rockstar released its first visuals and music, I was taken by expectation. Jab We Met is one of the Indian movies I always end up recommending to friends who are not Bollywood viewers, in the hopes of engaging them to watch more. I was therefore wishing that this new film would bring back the Imtiaz Ali I had appreciated, soon recommending Rockstar to friends I gathered could get bitten by the Bollywood bug.

First and foremost... and beyond any thoughts on the film itself, Rockstar is showcases how Ranbir Kapoor's acting keeps stepping a notch up with every film of his. I have seldom found an actor in India whom I like to watch if only to observe how his/her acting is evolving with each new character. And if there was still any doubt, the camera in this particular film truly says "Ranbir is the guy"!

But let's get on with Rockstar's plot: Janardhan or Jordan - also called JJ -  (Ranbir Kapoor) is a young man in college who dreams of becoming a rockstar, looking up to Jim Morrison. As he comes to understand that all artists have pain and heartbreak in common, Janardhan resolves to risk being interested in Heer (Nargis Fakhri), a beautiful girl who is known to have broken more than one heart and is number one in every college guy's chicklist. As time goes by however, Heer and Janardhan actually become friends. Later on, while Heer gets married to a man who takes her to live to Europe, Janardhan's musical journey takes off when he starts earning his bread singing bhajans. Classical singer, Ustad Jameel Khan, portrayed by the legendary Shammi Kapoor, is impressed, thus deciding to help the soon-to-become star get a record contract. Follows JJ's journey to become a true rebel rock musician moved by his love and involvement with Heer, whom he meets once again when he travels to Prague to record for his album...

Ranbir Kapoor, as we said before, along with a sincere attempt from Imtiaz Ali to capture a rise to fame, carry the film the entire time. Ranbir's comic timing is brilliant and the lively dialogues between him and his co-star, Nargis, swoosh the audience through the first part of the film with lots of fun and rhythm.

This said, as much as the original idea of Rockstar's story seems quite engaging, while watching the film, the love story element during the second half seems to be strangely warped and convoluted. Nargis Fakhri is pretty enough and makes an honest attempt to step up to Ranbir's talent. Unfortunately, the role she has been given seems way too complex and... to be honest... not very well written out. This results in it being difficult for her as a beginner to pull off Heer with the necessary brio and sadly so. Additionally, her acting often seems reminiscent to me of Jab We Met's Geet (?!). One can feel the director's hand at moulding the girl's character in a similar way and this distracted me more than once from the story at hand. I do hope Fakhri can be given a good role in line with her experience to showcase her budding talent someday. Sadly, Rockstar to me was not such a role, particularly because she is paired with an actor with whom the difference in terms of experience is absolutely palpable on screen and this affects the entire film.

The depiction of how Ranbir moves from a simple dreamer to a star during the movie's second half is also not quite logical but the actor manages to keep the viewer's attention through a great amount of intense and solid acting.  I would have liked it if the love story took a backseat more in order to make JJ's rise to fame a bit meatier and more focused on him and his coming of age through his art.

Definite brownie points go to A.R. Rahman's soundtrack and Mohit Chauhan's voice. Bravo, bravo and three times bravo! I feel one can count in the fingers of one hand the Indian rock soundtracks that are truly rock-music-based and soulful enough to last a long while in the musical subconscious of movie goers. A. R Rahman's album definitely makes the cut. The way he mixes Western influences with Indian musical codes proves once again how much Rahman is in command when he has to deliver a clear understanding of Western and folkloric music. I have seldom seen someone blend different musical universes more successfully in the Indian music industry.

Last but not least, the controversy over Indian censorship bowing down to maintaining good relations with China by omitting any sign of sympathy for Tibet during the picturization of song Sadda Haq, made lots of ink flow this last week in the newspapers. In this scene, JJ sings at a concert for Tibetan refugees and the audience carries a banner with a slogan in support of Tibetan independence. The censor board requested that the slogan be pixelized so that it would not appear on the screen. Though I understand that the censor board wanted to keep the support for a Tibetan cause in the film from making headlines, it seems as if all this talk about the censorship incident in the press gave the Tibetan cause more publicity than if they had just let the picturization be... I salute Ali for having filmed the scene and personally find it questionable that it had to be censored.

The trailer for Sadda Haq, released before the film however, still features the banner and a sign in favor of Tibet. The trailer ends with the words "This season claim what's yours". Because we still think the entire Sadda Haq scene lots its strength and rebellious purpose with the omission of the banners in cinema screens, we are therefore posting the video hereunder, hoping the T-Series trailer remains available to viewers to convey what the original and key scene actually should have instead of leaving it to be a rebellion of sorts.

Watch Rockstar for Ranbir and Shammi Kapoor, for fresh boy-girl dialogues and to get a feel of an Indian rebel. I would however not recommend the entire film to my non-Bollywoody friends... Maybe only the soundtrack and music videos? This blogger will have to wait for Imtiaz Ali's next. Someone who can cast Ranbir Kapoor in a good rebel role has to have more to him than meets the eye. Hence, no Sir, I have not given up hope.

Visit the Rockstar official website
Join Rockstar on Facebook
Purchase the Rockstar soundtrack online


Directed by Imtiaz Ali
Produced by Dhilin Mehta
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Moufid Aziz, Aditi Rao Hydari, Piyush Mishra, Kumud Mishra, Shernaz Patel
Music by A.R. Rahman


The Bolly Hood said...

Although the film doesn't have many rock songs as such, my favourite song is 'Haawa Haawa' - I absolutely love it! (was it inspired by the song from Mr. India?)

Aline HindiCinemaBlog said...

I agree Bolly Hood, Haawa Haawa is a great song! Good point on mentioning Hawa Hawaii ;-) Both picturizations are exotic indeed! :-)

Anand Kumar said...

most of the movies are prdctble....
this is an epic love story. the way the story unfolds was awsum.but ppl dnt say its a waste of money and time.this is a very good movie.miss it at ur own risk

Bhaskar said...

When I saw Jab We Met, I started to respect Imtiaz Ali. I thought he is an original thinker. However, the plot of Rockstar has been taken from classics " WUTHERING HEIGHTS"

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