Director: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri
In the film, Ranbir Kapoor is advised that to be a true-blue artist and a real rockstar he has to experience pain, which will come through heartbreak. If we go by this theory, most audiences of this film will walk out of the hall as rockstars, since the movie will largely leave them heartbroken. But for heartbreak, it is imperative to fall in love first and that’s exactly what director Imtiaz Ali does. He starts off the film on a promising note and just when you fall in love with the amazing first half, the narrative nosedives with a stagnant second half.
So you have the naive Janardhan Jakhar (Ranbir Kapoor) who aspires to be a rockstar likeJim Morrison. His yearning for heartbreak gets him close to Heer (Nargis Fakhri), as they bond over soft-porn cinema and country liquor. Soon after, the girl is married off to some NRI, the boy is thrown out of his house, he seeks solace in a dargah and next you know he’s a singing sensation rechristened as Jordan.
A foreign tour reunites him with Heer and their passive passion rekindles until Jordan is obsessed with her. What follows is another tribute to Devdas or rather Dev.D with the neurotic, lovelorn protagonist unable to get over his mixed emotions and confused definition of love. But that’s not all as the plot meanders to culminate into an undesired arena of Erich Segal’s Love Story.
Imtiaz Ali is known for his old-wine-in-new-bottle brand of cinema. Rockstar is very much engaging as far as it is in that familiar territory, where the director adds a refreshing touch to the regular romance drama. The casual chemistry that he induces between the lead pair through their wacky and eventful escapades has its moments of charm. The passion-play between them when they reunite after years is spontaneous, smoldering and yet tastefully achieved. Their reunion is also faintly reminiscent of the Jab We Met reunion, where the character-conduct is reversed with the burbling boy now trying to make the gloomy girl’s life more exciting. And like Love Aaj Kal, Imtiaz Ali kick-starts the film with a montage song highlighting select significant sequences from the entire film.
But beyond that when the director ventures into uncharted zone, the narrative loses track. While one can still overlook the Dev.D influenced intoxicating attitude of the proceedings (which you can somehow attribute to the convoluted rockstar protagonist), the subsequent terminal illness conflict takes the film towards an unwelcome and undefined end. After an interesting graph to the narrative in the first half, the story almost turns stationary in the second half. The screenplay seems stretched and gets monotonous with repetitive media-bashing scenes and flashback shots of what has been already served to you.
Another problem with the plot is that it is neither a standalone story about the rise-of-an-underdog who becomes the biggest rockstar nor is it merely a love story with a rockstar backdrop. The director somewhere attempts to correlate the rockstar’s rise with his romance but isn’t able to achieve that impeccably. In fact the original one-liner plot with which the movie starts (a painful heartbreak gets out the real artist inside you) goes for a complete toss by the end. One can never clearly perceive when Jordan’s heart is broken in the assorted scheme of events and that’s where the film loses objectivity.
The storytelling pattern of the film is needlessly intricate for a simple romance-drama genre. While it is very much linear, the frequent use of multiple montages can have you confused. Initially the montages aid brisk storytelling but subsequently there are so much of them that it gets puzzling. Editing the film would surely have been a difficult task. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is brilliant as he captures the beauty of Kashmir, Italy and Delhi with panache. AR Rahman’s wide range of music has numbers which are instantly infectious (Sadda Haq) and others that take time to grow on you.
If Rockstar keeps you engaged even after you have given up on the story by the end, it is only because of Ranbir Kapoor. From his innocence in the opening reels to his arrogance in the climax, Ranbir breathes life into Jordan and keeps you riveted. Whether he adlibs his songs, gives a dance-tribute to Shammi Kapoor or dictates the concert crowd, Ranbir gives cent percent to his character. How much ever you try to ignore, but Nargis Fakhri fervently reminds of Katrina Kaif through her looks, acting, lip movements (and seemingly also has the same voice dubbing artist). Nevertheless she is likeable and shares good chemistry with Ranbir. Kumud Mishra as Jordan’s advisor-turned-manager is impressive. Aditi Rao Hydari is confident but marred by a short-lived character. Piyush Mishra makes for an animated-yet-interesting negative lead. And it’s pleasing to see Shammi Kapoor is his last decent cameo.
Rockstar rocks you but only partially thanks to the star called Ranbir Kapoor.