Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Rockstar: Ranbir, Rahman are the stars
If you want to watch the rockstars in action in Imtiaz Ali’s “Rockstar“, look out for the “Kun Faya Kun” number in the first half — both A. R. Rahman and Ranbir Kapoor are at their best here — the lilting melody of the song and Ranbir’s range of expressions remind you of how good the two are at what they do.
They are the stars of “Rockstar” — the reason why you leave the movie with a somewhat positive feeling. Everything else, including the script, the direction and other performances are found wanting, much to your disappointment.
Director Ali attempts to chart the tumult that tears apart an aspiring musician, Janardan Jakhar, aka Jordan played by Ranbir Kapoor. Janardan belongs to a regular middle-class family and, as he himself says, has lived a remarkably ordinary life, except for his love for music and his desire to make it big. On the advice of his college canteen manager, who tells him that all great art comes out of pain, Janardan decides to propose to the beautiful Heer, the most popular girl on campus, and then feigns heartbreak when she rejects him.
When that plan backfires, the two become friends, and Heer, who is soon to be married, makes a list of “crazy things” she wants to do before she “settles down”. Of course, as in most Imtiaz Ali films, both characters realise they have fallen in love with each other — after one of them is married. Janardan becomes Jordan, gets thrown out of his house, develops angst and grows a beard.
There really is no story after this point and it becomes a chronicle of Heer and Jordan’s doomed love story. There are some lovely moments and the songs are shot beautifully, but there are two major problems with this movie. And I do mean major. One is that Ali cannot seem to decide whether he wants to make a love story or a story about a rockstar. As a result, it becomes neither — both aspects get diluted and do not help the film.
Also, the reasons for Jordan’s angst aren’t built up well enough, so his dishevelled, bitter, angry avatar is a bit unbelievable. The incidents that lead to Ranbir’s anger and bitterness are hardly valid and most of them seem blown out of proportion, and a little too forced.
Ali tries to go a level up and likens love and music to a spiritual experience and the montage at the end is evidence of that, but the pace of the film and its many loopholes in the plot don’t.
The second major problem is Nargis Fakhri — the lady is pretty, but she cannot act. Her stunted, awkward performance pulls down what is Ranbir Kapoor’s best and yet, in some places, you realise how good the latter is at what he does, because Fakhri is totally not good at the same thing. Where Ranbir is effortless, Fakhri is laboured, and this affects the chemistry on screen and the way the love story unfolds. She fails to put some spunk into her character, coming across as so insipid, you wonder why Jordan loves her so obsessively.
“Rockstar” works on so many levels, but it fails miserably on so many more — I recommend you watch it for Ranbir Kapoor. He’s put his heart and soul into this one, and if you didn’t know it already, he proves why he’s got the chops.