Sunday, November 20, 2011
Writer-director Imtiaz Ali's story about a talented musician begins with protagonist Jordan's fascination and pursuit of his dream of being a rockstar. Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor), is introduced to us as a starry-eyed fledgling college guitarist who has his wall covered with posters of Jim Morrison and Led Zep. Studying in Delhi, he is carefree enough to sing to people waiting in a bus stand. Such is his passion that when his canteen owner tells him that Jordan must get his heart broken to create outstanding music, he attempts to woo the prettiest college Heer (Nargis Fakhri) in the campus. Except he doesn't fall in love with her but becomes good friends. That is first cinematic liberty that Imtiaz takes in the film. It is a funny scene when it happens but it is a weak moment indeed when Heer who is this prim and proper girl from Kashmir decides to take Jordan for a B-grade Hindi movie. We buy it in the flow of the movie but Imtiaz keeps stretching these liberties from time to time and what we eventually end up with is a half-baked cake with all the flavors in place but just not completely done.
From a story of Jordan's dream, Rockstar by the second half becomes a story of unrequited love. There's pain and pathos thereafter and hope that somewhere in between we will arrive at a fulfilling conclusion. The bridge that Imtiaz covers with his co-writer Muazzam Beg, to make this a story of Jordan and Heer from a story of Jordan is remarkable. It happens over a period of three years and it is a journey that has Jordan's character transformation at it's core. The narrative is peppered with flashbacks and cuts back and forth that work seamlessly in taking the story forward. But Rockstar is all about Ranbir Kapoor. If ever with his past choices of movies, there was any doubt about the man's talent, he shatters them all. His Jordan is passionate, quirky, uninhibited, sensitive and flagrant and Ranbir owns the character as much as he owns the film. The other element which works equally well for the movie is the music. These are not songs simply based around context of the movie but they're also laced around concepts and character motivations. Mohit Chauhan as the lead singer for Jordan provides a soul to the songs that make them come alive. Some stunning lyrics by Irshad round up the music wonderfully well. A supporting act by Kumud Mishra, as Jordan's manager is nothing short of a gem as is a cameo by Shammi Kapoor. To see the grandfather-grandson duo in one frame is a privilege for any one of us who grew up on Shammi Ji's films and songs. On the technical front, editor Aarti Bajaj seems to have had an open canvas to experiment and she delivers.
And now about the lacunae - films which weave around the personal journey of a character need to conclude with an impact towards the end. Imtiaz employs a finale concert as his cinematic device and it works at a certain level but doesn't really touch you. If it had, Rockstar would've been the 'wow' movie that it eventually didn't turn out to be. Nargis Fakhri, unfortunately inspite of a meaty role, doesn't connect with her stony acting skills. She's pretty and that's all there's to it. A Priyanka or a Kareena in a role like this would've enhanced Imtiaz's offering considerably.
Rockstar is surely one the year's better movies and its enigma pulls you towards a film that is Imtiaz's and Rahman's labour of love and music. The movie thrives on the individual strengths of both coupled with a virtuoso by Ranbir Kapoor. However, it lacks a punch because by the end of it, you go back thinking of the songs and Ranbir Kapoor and not about any moment that moves you. If Imtiaz had nailed that, we would've had a classic.