Directed by Imtiaz Ali. Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Piyush Mishra, Kumud Mishra, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shernaz Patel, Shammi Kapoor.
Rockstar succeeds as a musical but fails to convince as a film despite a superlative performance by Ranbir Kapoor.
Imtiaz is among the finest Indian filmmakers. With films like Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal, he has given the jaded genre of Bollywood romances a fresh, contemporary twist, wowing both the critics and the audiences. As a result, his latest release Rockstar carries a huge burden of expectations. Not just because of the director’s past successes but also because of the brilliant job done by music director AR Rahman and lyricist Irshad Kamil while creating the soundtrack of the film. Unfortunately, Imtiaz seems to have lost that brief he must have given Irshad and Rahman, when he shot the film.
The film starts out with a promise. The bumbling desperation of a middle-class Delhi boy Janaradhan Jakhar (Ranbir Kapoor) to seek out and experience pain, so that he can become ‘Rockstar Jordan’, is captured in a heartfelt and refreshingly honest manner. The film then moves into trademark Imtiaz Ali territory and that’s where it runs into conflict with itself. Imtiaz Ali’s films are characterised by a platonic relationship between a good-hearted, protective boy and a strong-headed, sharp-tongued (and of course, drop-dead gorgeous) girl, Nargis Fakhri’s Heer in this case. The girl (already spoken for) wants to follow her heart, breaking a few social taboos. The guy joins the girl on the journey, falling in love with her along the way. While these elements make for a good contemporary romance drama, they end up making Rockstar just another Imtiaz Ali signature romance rather than a film about a musician’s journey through darkness. While Ranbir Kapoor’s Jordan has all the affectations of a bad-boy rockstar, his character has very little reason to be all angst and rage.
The non-linear structure, the seamless weave of songs and music into the fabric of the film, spectacular cinematography and some impressive performances by the supporting cast add to the film’s appeal. The film is laced with moments both poignant and funny but they fail to give credence to the character of Jordan as an edgy rockstar. Nargis Fakhri looks pretty but has problems delivering lines convincingly.
The film can be watched for Ranbir Kapoor’s performance or as an extended music video for Rockstar, the soundtrack. In a way, the film’s biggest undoing is its superlative music. In the context of the lyrics of the songs, the film is a huge let down. When Jordan sings Sadda Haq, the film shows none of the character’s rights being curtailed? When he laments Jo Bhi Main, there is very little Jordan has to say in the first place. In effect, Rockstar emerges more as a mere pretender than the real deal.
<Tushar A Amin is the author of Bollywood Themes and former editor of FHM India. Follow Tushar on twitter: @tusharaamin>