I’ll try to keep this pretty straight forward. Rockstar is a mess of a plot, about a messed up character, and an equally messed up ensemble which tries to make sense throughout the length of the movie, but fails miserably. It is supposed to be a tale of a Jatt-boy who turns into this creative legend because of the pain and anguish that he’s been through. And his angst, pain, misery, and sheer bad luck in love gets channelled out in form of his lyrical lines and his heavy melodies. How grunge, rock n roll, metal..whatever <insert favourite sub-genre of rock>. The only catch here is that the chronology of the events in which all this happens is all wrong. Either that, or Janardhan Jakhar has access to a time machine, which allows him to suffer all these stuff which I mentioned, and then go back in time, to use that to write his songs. And even after I try to overlook this “minor” flaw that seems to have escaped the eye of most reviewers *cough Rediff cough*, I am hit by the wooden wall of the new Deepika Padukone on the block (as in a no-can-do-acting) – Fakhri, Nargis Fakhri.
Hit the jump, as I discuss The 4 things I did like about Rockstar,
And also the 4 major “baal-nochne waali” (hair-tearing) moments of Rockstar, that made my hair go – Born to be Wild.
*First up: 4 things I liked about Rockstar*
1. Junglee Jawani:
I like it when there is a direct hat-tip to the sleazy youth of North India (or any part of India really). Especially, when its the girl who initiates it. Also, JJ’s confession of faking being sloshed by dapping his face with alcohol like cologne. Clever anecdote that! Credit where credit’s due – Imtiaz Ali does have a way to create a gooey fondness for his characters. And here, we find that in the boyish JJ, who has a naive approach to everything – whether it’s in dealing heartbreak with samosas, or drinking Desi Daru with a “Jai Bajrang Bali”.
2. Shammi Kapoor:
Now, I know there was a very small screen time given to Shammi jee. But considering, this was the last of him that we’d see, it had to be on this list. And one of the film’s finest lines comes from the legend himself, who impersonates a Shehnai maestro – “Ye bada jaanwar hai, Ye chhote pinjre mein nahi samayega” [ Literal translation: He’s a big animal. And he will not fit in a small cage] – a simple and quite straight forward analogy of the “Rock” spirit. Every single time he made a brief appearance, it was a moment of awe.
3. Ye Chaand Sa Roshan Chehra:
Although it all ends up being a contrived plot idea (making Heer a Kashmiri, so that we can get Ranbir’s ass back to the Dal Lake, and have some nudge nudge reference), it is all actually worth it. To see young Ranbir and Nargis recreate the immortal picturisation of Kashmir Ki Kali’s “Ye Chand Sa Roshan Chehra” was one of the very few moments in the movie, when I was glued to the screen. And needless to say, I had the widest grin from ear to ear. I’ll leave you with that image for a while 😛
4. Sadda Haq:
This is the track that does it for me. It sums it all up, more than even the movie can do. If this movie was made as a concert, with 10 of such tracks, and just an intermediate filler of the artistes story (like they do in MTV Behind the Music), Rockstar would have been a much better movie. The lyrics reflect the “rock spirit” of non-cooperation, unwillingness to conform to straitjacketed standards of the society. \m/. Absolutely on the money! And Mohit Chauhan’s vocals paired with Rahman’s crazy arrangement filled with Iron-Maiden-ish guitar solos make it an instant Desi Rock Anthem.
Now for the ugly list:
* 4 Things That I Didn’t Like About Rockstar*
1. The Ensemble:
Ok, agreed that Kumud Mishra’s Khatana Bhai is good. His talcum-layered neck, and greasy combed down hairstyle perfectly portrays every canteen owner who’s hosted a “Mata Ki Chowki” night. But apart from that, every other ensemble member in this tale falls flat. The wig-haired music producer of Platinum Records who has a thing for tel-maalish, JJ’s family members – the domestically violent brother and the tactile *ahem Savita ahem* Bhabhi, Heer’s bipolar parents, and Heer’s most annoying sister. Do you remember an old NES game called Duck Hunt? That’s the sort of game I’d like to play with this cast, where I get to shoot them like ducks, and good ol’ Kumud Mishra picking them up. Especially the sister who decides to yell out loud when she discovers that Heer is preggy, and curse JJ, like she was some kinda Durvasha Muni or somethin’. Calm yo tits girl! And not to forget, the omnipresent journalist (Aditi Rao Hydari), who is there to report the antics of Jordan, as well as fill in as a groupie.
2. Back to the summer of 89:
The core theme around Rockstar gave me a flashback feeling of where I have seen all of this done before. And I could rewind it back to the VHS days of 1989 -y’ know, the good ol’ fun days of making a movie experience fun, by watching it backwards. If only Rockstar was half as fun as those legendary ones. Like the one with Kakaji belting out a guitar solo with one hand, as he does a percussion showdown on his congo in Disco Dancer. Or even Tariq with his hair raising Guitar strumming in Yaadon Ki Baarat. All those movies had one thing in common – for great music talent, all you need is bad hair, I mean pain and anguish..like a tragic heartbreak..or something like that. So please, stop all this pretense of making Rockstar sound and look like a new age “Bollywood rising”. Coz its not.
3. Jordan, the Rocker:
One of the most flawed points in the movie comes under limelight, when we get to see JJ transform into Jordan, the Rocker. What we see is a man, driven by angst and negative energy (whatever that is). Everything works well for me, when JJ was the Jatt dude from Pitampura, who wants to be as great as Jim Morrison. But when he seeks inspiration in the form of a heartbreak, that’s when it turns into guano. I just cannot get my head around as to what causes Jordan to become the way he is. He plays mates with Heer, painting Old Delhi red. And then, goes to Kashmir to her wedding, decorating the lights. And then gets back to Delhi, gets kicked out of his house, and with help from his rehab/refuge experience at Hazrat Nizammudin, gets reformed into a music-extraordinairé. Did I miss something? All’s well till then, or is it – the chronology of the editing just fucked my mind over and over again. He’s acting all weird at times, beating up police men, showing middle fingers to his own concert’s organising authorities. And he gets a chance to go to Prague, and jam with street musicians and also perform to audiences in a fucking Opera House. Ok, still plausible. But then, as soon Heer says “N O”, he goes mental, and acts like a jerk, under seizure. Apparently, all the “enlightening” words he’s been receiving from master Katana, has been around building his infectious stage presence after all, and had nothing to do with his music or lyrics. And for a concert artist, there’s nothing shown of his rehearsals with the band. All we get is that he’s juts so badass that he belts out perfect jams on the fly.
And apparently, even before his first album releases, a national news channel is covering all of this, and the youth of India is totally into his badass attitude. Not only that, they’re buying all his shit, rather than downloading it from piratebay. Nevertheless, if it was the intention of the director to show that Jordan is a mental sociopath, and that’s what makes him so close to the likes of rock legends like Jim Morrison, then this is what Anthony Gonsalves has to say about Jordan.
4. Nargis Fakhri:
And this is the mother of all my complaints with this movie. Nargis is supposed to play the focal point of Jordan’s life. She’s Heer to JJ’s Ranjha, the force of love and the reason of his pain. Instead, what we get is a “thanda thanda cool cool” girl, with the range of just two expressions – “hilarious smile”, and “dead pan look sans makeup”. The chemistry between the lead pair shines a little in the initial Delhi University scenes, but when it switches over to Prague, the characters evaporate into the beauty of the backdrop, where it should’ve been the other way around. Not even sex, drugs and rock n roll could help erase the torture of watching Nargis Fakhri attempt at delivering a line. No wonder Jordan went mental.
OKS Rating: 2 Middle Fingers out of 5.
Footnote: Watch Rockstar if –
A) You’re a Ranbir fan, to see how far he has come from his anti-towel days.
B) For A.R. Rahman’s wicked soundtrack which has a ballad, a qawwali, and this generation’s Rock Anthem.
C) Shammi Kapoor.