As I was stepping out of the theatre after watching Rockstar, two Ws were strongly recurring in my head – Wow and Why? The former overpowers the latter to a great extent. Hence, more on the why later, first let me analyze the wow factor for you.
It comes from three major things. One, being the way the story is told. Director Imtiaz Ali and the editor (Aarti Bajaj) deserve full praise for the innovative zip zap, one shot glimpse of past and future scenes, style of narration. This keeps the viewer completely hooked in the initial scenes going to the extent of even making one rewind the scenes mentally to keep pace.
Rockstar, begins with the goofy rustic Janardhan Jakhar (RanbirKapoor) strumming his guitar around college campuses and canteens, wanting to make it big in music. On being counseled that great musicians in the past have all suffered great pain, he wants his heartbreak moment to come from the St. Stephen’s hottie Heer Kaul (NargisFakhri). After a series of hilarious meet ups, Ranbir gives up his idea and they become friends. She is about to get married and wants to do all the wild things in life before she becomes ‘the lady in Prague’. The bonding grows further; unexpressed love eventually happens and like the last Imtiaz Ali movie the heroine here too does not marry the hero. Ranbir (Jordan now)meanwhile, goes through enough pain in his life to still create good music and get signed on by a music company. But his heart clearly longs for her and the very married lady too gets her happiness only from him. But there are society norms to be followed, marriages are to be kept intact, thus leading to the angst that Ranbir so naively desired in the beginning.
Throughout his journey Ranbir (and the viewer) is accompanied by the second and possibly the movie’s biggest wow factor, the god-awesome-mind-boggling-will-leave-you-in-a-trance soundtrack that the great A.R. Rahman creates for this film. Each of the songs is super special and makes one feel plain lucky to be born in the same generation as him. Though a novice when it comes to understanding music, if ever there is a song that touches the soul, I feel it has to be Javed Ali, Mohit Chauhan (through Jordan) and Rahman himself, crooning Kun Faaya Kun.
The movie owes the last of the wow factors to the Rockstar himself, Ranbir Kapoor. His transition from the simpleton Janardhan to the rash raging Jordan is seamless and in the best role of his career so far, Ranbir delivers his best performance yet. Anyone else with lesser acting prowess would have created a caricature out of the character and thank heavens Imtiaz chose Ranbir over John Abraham (his initial choice according to HT). This act should also settle the debate, if there was one in the first place, for the best star-actor among those to have debuted after Hrithik Roshan in 2001.
Description of Ranbir’s acting leads me to the antonym of the word acting itself-Nargis Fakhri. This, incidentally, is also the second of the Ws that hit me post the movie; a question which I am sure Imtiaz would face a lot in the near future, WHY? WHY HER?!
The 24 year old in me, feels terrible to criticize someone as beautiful as Nargis. Make no mistake, she is stunningly gorgeous and has sizzling chemistry with Ranbir. But sadly, she cannot mouth a single dialogue without making you squirm. The standards of acting in the movie make her stand out easily and she becomes the weakest link here. Another superior actress in her place would have surely raised the movie a few more notches. Sad, especially for someone so pretty.
However, the Director can be overlooked for this; for he has a made a movie that will stand out from the ones released this year. The script has some loop holes yes, especially in the second half. Why a modern day girl would not leave her husband for her love being one and some odd melodrama towards the end, being the other.
But overall, Imtiaz Ali tells an unfamiliar story with aplomb and deserves full credit for the manner in which he takes it forward through songs. Growing up in the nineties, one is used to songs mostly breaking the flow of the story. Over the last decade though, Bollywood (led by Farhan Akhtar and co) has started using songs more effectively and with Rockstar, Imtiaz tells an entire story through songs (or vice versa, your pick). From his Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met days, Imtiaz is maturing as a director and narrating stories more complex and competent. Retained and risen in my list of directors whose movies have to be watched.
I have not seen a Broadway musical yet, something which western audiences often compare Bollywood films to. My guess is that Rockstar is the closest a Bollywood film has gotten to a musical.
Go watch and discover another version of love!
Dessert Note (DN, as desserts are served after main course, a dessert note is served after the main article):
ARR for Bharat Ratna, surely!