What we are reviewing this week is powerhouse triumvirate of 4 film old director Imtiaz Ali- music composer AR Rahman- and most recent scion of the Kapoor Kingdom Ranbir Kapoor coming together to give us the fictional biopic of Steve Urkel look-a-like Janardhan Jakhar rise to trendy bohemian bourgeois and stadium rocker Jordan Negative. The movie is told in a nonlinear timeline starting with the final concert in Rome, flashing back to a young Jordan. This is quite refreshing although not unique for a Hindi film, it did however create quite a bit of confusion for the samosa auntie collective around me in the theater. But the movie weaves such a magic that it sticks so close to your heart that you yearn to revisit it as soon as you step out of the darkness of the cinema.
Rockstar is many things, but first and foremost it’s a musical epic composed around the soundtrack of the Mozart of Madras (I DO really hate that nickname), AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire and Couple’s Retreat of all movies) Rockstar would not be possible without the sounds that have been on repeat on my iPod since the soundtrack was released a couple of months ago. From the chant-along anthem Saada Haq, the sufi inspired Kun Faaya Kun to the fun loving Katiya Karoon, there hasn’t been an album like this all year and truly only someone like AR Rahman’s midas touch could craft something that accompanied with the beautiful cinematography of Anil Mehta takes us to the soaring highs that we see Jordan gaze upon many times throughout the movie.
Rockstar is a powerhouse performance by Ranbir Kapoor; although the young actor has been known to have the luxury to experiment unlike his contemporaries, he has an innate and effortless talent that can’t be denied. We have seen him as a slacker in Wake Up Sid, a college graduate transformed into a political strategist in Raajneeti but the performance here is just something different. Although Jordan is pretty much a petulant man child (isn’t that what Rockstar are supposed to be?) Ranbir makes you feel his anger, his frustration, his ambition and his love for Heer.
Played by newcomer and former American Top Model contestant Nargis Fakhri, the character of Heer teeters on the manic pixie dream girl, a character template coined by film Critic Nathan Rabin. Man-children protagonists usually fall in love with MPDG but Heer is a driver of their relationship more than the label usually offers us. And maybe she is a MPDG in the way Paro was in Devdas or Kiran was in Darr but Nargis’ fresh appearance is so charming that you just want to chill out with her and have fun like Janardhan does before he becomes Jordan. Her backstory is treated with nuance and hints which are very subtle but makes us understand why we as audience members fall in love with her. The decision to dub (her voice as she isn’t fluent in hindi) creates a disconnect doesn’t help either, a decision I never understand and something that even Rani Mukherjee and Katrina Kaif struggled with at the start of their careers.
Rockstar is a passionate love story of the kind we haven’t seen in a while and earlier this year Mausam probably tried to deliver. Director Imtiaz Ali has steadily worked throughout his previous movies trying to understand the foibles of young love within the conventions of Bollywood. But he manages to do so by giving us a new perspective on stories we know and some of us love. This is the case with Rockstar too, we know where the story will take us and where it will end but the ride is just so fresh that you forgive most of the faults.
There are some issues with the movie though, the second half of the movie starts dragging and the writing of the characters becomes a bit unbelievable especially in the female characters, like Heer’s sister, her sister in law and mother. ? Maybe writer Imtiaz Ali is only able to handle one female character to flesh out? Also is Shehnaz Patel getting typecast taking care of bed ridden characters after Guzaarish?
I want to get into a few more details and spoilers but I will go into that over at Upodcast. So watch that space for a slightly more in depth review.
In summary, I wasn’t expecting too much from Rockstar but I know I will be talking about it in our Best of the Year Podcast in December-January. Go and watch it, or at least try the soundtrack if you aren’t sure.
Not a trailer but my favorite track from the movie.