Friday, March 16, 2012

Notes on ‘Rockstar’

I guess it’s too late already to review ‘Rockstar’ (2011), the Imtiaz Ali-Ranbir Kapoor venture; let me also add two more names, A R Rehman and Mohit Chauhan, without whom the film could not have been possible. I finally saw the film in DVD, and I have mixed feelings about it. I avoided seeing the film after hearing contradictory reviews; some loved it, and some absolutely hated it. But, the soundtrack is absolutely a masterpiece. Rehman gets his grooves back, and how. For a long time, I was in love with the ‘Jo bhi main’ track. It’s an extraordinary number, immaculately written and inspiringly performed. Chauhan received the Filmfare award for best playback singer for this song, and he deserves it.

So, here’s what I think of ‘Rockstar’. It’s a good film, well written and bravely edited and Ranbir Kapoor gives the performance of a lifetime. The film had the potential to be a grand epic of love, a la classic Yash Chopra films. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Blame it on a wrong casting decision: Nargis Fakhri as Heer. She becomes the proverbial cog in the wheel of this epic musical saga. Very sad indeed.

A love story to the proportion of Romeo and Juliet or Heer-Ranjha needs actors whom you can trust and invest in them emotionally. In this context, Ranbir does justice to his role. Though I found his early simpleton avatar little hard to believe, his transformation from JJ to Jordan is more or less believable; the music which also transforms along with him, helps. When he’s alone, or on stage, we believe in his pain, anguish, and his unrequited love.

Problem begins when Jordan meets the object of his affection. Fakhri is so lackluster that you doubt her love for Jordar, and you wander how anyone wildly romantic can fall in love with such a dull thing. Fakhri cannot act, and it shows, despite the fact that her dialogues were dubbed by someone else. Lack of acting skill is one thing, screen presence and chemistry is another. Even Katrina Kaif cannot act. But, she has a personality that makes up for it. This is something Fakhri lacks. Personally, for me, I couldn’t find any chemistry between the two. And, when she would say that she did not love him, I believed that she really did not. Talk about being one-note.

As I regarded this contrived love story, I was struck by how the director, Imtiaz Ali, is fixated on married heroines. I haven’t seen his first film, but his last three films are stories of women who get married or nearly do and then realise that he’s not the right one. In ‘Jab We Met’, the girl is all set to marry until her lover ditches her. In ‘Love Aaj Kal’ and also here, they actually get married, and then leave their husbands. Very progressive indeed.

What I admired most about ‘Rockstar’ was it narrative technique. It could have been a simple straightforward story, but Ali decides to puncture the narrative a crucial junctures, and you are surprised how brilliantly it works. There are so many beginnings to Jordan’s story, and each beginning is accompanied by a musical note. I wander if it was a decision made at the time of writing the script, or it just happened at the editing table. The editing is almost flawless.

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