Rockstar

Actors: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Kumud Mishra, Piyush Mishra
Genre: Drama
Rating: 3.5/5

Sheher mein hoon main tere, aake mujhe mil toh le; Dena na tu kuch magar, aake mera dil toh tu lele jaana”, sings Ranbir somewhere in the movie. These lines explain the protagonist’s mood, his want and also the soul of this film. The plot of this film, written by Imtiaz Ali is about a Jatt lad Janardhan aka JJ aka Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) hailing from Delhi, who makes it big as a Rockstar. The story is not so much about Jordan’s rise to fame as much it is about a Rockstar’s mental turmoil, the ebbs and tides in his life that come with his longing for Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri), his friend from college, who he eventually develops feelings towards, and after she enters into wedlock. This kind of work is innate to Imtiaz Ali, where characters meet, and realizations about their feelings happen at a later time; but the script is fresh in that it uses the backdrop of a public figure’s life and is outside the mundane.

PERFORMANCES:
Jordan’s role had two main facets – agony and felicity, both emotions pretty much sourced off his relationship with Heer. Ranbir Kapoor has been able to pull both emotions off with ease, and also convincingly brings out an artiste’s whimsical nature that comes with the flip of a switch. Theoretically speaking, he could not have done this role any better. If there could be anymore justice, it would require Imtiaz to go off on a tangent to develop Jordan’s role further but it was not necessary. Ranbir’s Hindi accent as a Jatt boy, his initial friendship with Heer, and more importantly as a Rockstar performing on stage are exemplary attributes of his character. Specifics like holding the guitar right, simple basics like knowing when to play tablature versus chords (as and how music transitions progress), and holding chords correctly are some noticeable plusses, that other B-town actors regularly fail to improvise on. Romance comes very easily to Ranbir and he scores big on being able to charm his lady love on screen, and by also being witty. Nargis Fakhri has debuted opposite an actor who has tried out a variety of roles, and it must have been a challenge to grab eyeballs in any shot. Minimal makeup saves her, but her anglicized Hindi, her inability to cry when required most, and more importantly expressing sadness are clearly her shortcomings. What Nargis did best was to lie down on a bed to play a patient suffering from Born Marrow Applasia. While Ranbir leaves an indelible impression, Nargis is not irreplaceable, but surely will win some male fans.

Piyush Mishra as Dhingra, an executive at a record-label company plays a stereotyped character- grouchy, miserly and demanding. His accent is his asset and he uses it convincingly to support his short role. Piyush Mishra as Khatana Bhai provides slight comical detours with his quips. He also plays JJ’s mentor, and to the effect that Jordan really comes to be because of Khatana Bhai’s “Jab tak taqleef nao ho na life mein, tab tak koi bada nai banta!”. Khatana is interjected in the storyline at various junctures to transition Jordan from lover to Rockstar (and thus the screenplay), who would transition back after the act. Piyush is probably remindful of some real life characters (read well-wishers) we may know.

DIRECTION, SCREENPLAY, CINEMATOGRAPHY & EDITING:
Although Imtiaz has written scripts earlier in which the lovers separate, gloom descends, and only for them to meet again, this story has some twists. Director Imtiaz has treaded on a practical path, and nowhere does the direction of the story seem flimsy. The first part of the movie sets a good pace with scenes from the who of Jordan, the present, to the how, leading to his past. Imtiaz has done a great balancing act of strongly etching the private life of a public figure. The second half is considerably slow, with most of the content on the storyboard by intermission. It drags mainly because of the repetitive nature of the screenplayby Imtiaz. More depth in storyline could have possibly helped, but it seemed like Imtiaz wanted the emotional connect between the two characters shoulder the second half altogether and of course, it falls short. If you can ingore that the title is a mashup of 2 logos, AC DC’s and video game Rockband’s, the police chase in Prague that is unresolved, and presence of some native Bollywood love story elements, it’s a brave effort by Imtiaz for stitching together a wonderful range of musical elements and emotions together. 

Cinematography
by Anil Mehta is mostly documentary-ish for scenes shot in India, and very rich with scenes shot abroad (Prague, etc). But the visual appeal of snow capped mountains of Kashmir take the cake. Anil has shown great skill in sensitively capturing the intimacy between Jordan and Heer. The stage show scenes, the crowds are adequately captured to prove on celluloid the magnitude of popularity of an artiste called Jordan, which was critical to the storyline.Editing by Aarti Bajaj is greatly in sync with Director Imtiaz’s vision. From a viewer’s standpoint, every single minute of the experience is entertaining. If anything, the slow screenplay in the second half could be shaken up a bit, but this would not be Aarti’s role. So from a content-parsing standpoint, Aarti has ensured that every reel made sense, and it sure does.

MUSIC: 
This is the heart of the film. Music by A.R.Rahman helps propel the story too. The music is a lot of fusion, with quite a bit of European flavour – primarily German and Russian. Then there’s some amazing guitar solos, and great percussions to certify Jordan as a Rock artiste. Mohit Chauhan has lent his voice for Jordan, and boy, is it a silk route! Lyrics by Irshad Kamil are key too because that’s where Jordan’s emotions really are, and he does a fantastic job of matching mood of the tune to the lyrics (unlike some songs where Eg. the mood of the tune is high-spirited but the singer is crying out). The lyrics could even be a monologue, but Rahman’s tunes add the magical touch. Without a question, his tunes complement the direction of the film, and Jordan’s emotional state. If it has not grown on you, give it more time.  Try it!


WHY 3.5/5:
The good: Ranbir Kapoor’s performance; the music; screenplay in first half; the editing; the cinematography 
The bad: A could-have-been better Nargis Fakhri; a slow second half.

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  • "What is this..movie reviews and all? Chaa!! Do you ever think outside films?" - if this is exactly what you are itching to ask, may I interest you in my other blog Sandeepish?
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