Sunday, 13 November 2011

No Pain, No Gain

“Rockstar” is the tale of the birth of a rock star, his inspiration, need, nemesis and saviour being love. It’s about his transformation to Jordan a superstar, from Janardhan, a gullible wannabe singer-musician who is made to believe he can attain his potential only if he falls in love, feels its pangs and has his heart broken. It’s this pain that will lead him to the depth of his inner self and bring out the true music, he is told. What starts out as a comical effort to woo the most coveted Eve in college to ensure she will break his heart by her refusal slowly develops into a friendship, music his priority no more. So how does he become a “Rockstar” and what price does he pay for it? Director Imtiaz Ali`s body of work is a string of love stories woven around diverse themes in different milieus .He chooses to helm a musical this time. A strikingly common thread in all his films is that the protagonists at the outset are friends in denial, not reading too much into their attraction for each other but unbeknownst to them are actually in love, the film culminating with their acceptance.
Imtiaz Ali`s choice of a musical had to be backed up with outstanding music and that he ensures with the maestro A.R.Rehman. Call him the Mozart of Madras or the Bach of Bharat. Call him what you will and it would still be short of a befitting description. The music of Rockstar is quite simply avante garde and of a quality and depth not heard in some time, with no less support from Irshad Kamil`s words. The rock ballad, the anthem, the ode to Kashmir, A.R.Rehman`s customary Sufiana ode to the Almighty, Selvamani`s percussion in the climax concert and the piece de resistance, the instrumental jugalbandi of the shehenai and the guitar. Pick any .The sheer variety and class is sure to benumb you. The songs and music pieces are seamlessly woven into the narrative augmenting more than hampering the flow of the film. One approached Mohit Chauhan`s choice as playback singer for Ranbir Kapoor with trepidation but the film puts to rest any lingering doubts. On the flip side, the overdose of songs in the attempt to move the film forward, especially post interval does rankle a bit.

The supporting cast has a slew of hitherto unknown faces that do an admirable job of bringing alive the milieu and Delhiite-Jat persona. Kumud Mishra as Kathna, the catalyst to Janardhan`s love story, in particular is a superb find.

Shammi Kapoor`s last cinematic appearance is not the huge bonus it could have been, but is still memorable enough as a posthumous release.

Nargis Fakhri, well, like the old catchline goes, ‘she’s just too good a looker but not too good an actor’ (…so I guess she’s just right for …chocolate!). For a film that rested so on its` protagonists shoulders, it’s her looks and chemistry with Ranbir that sails her ashore. She performs very model like with a stiffness reminiscent of them.

At the end “Rockstar” is Ranbir Kapoor`s film all the way, be it as the gullible wannabe, the unpredictable star or the brash lover. This is a performance where he’s let himself go, with no restraints but yet a well measured consistency, being in character throughout the film. This is such a  strongperformance where even a special mention of Akki Narula`s eccentric wardrobe for him seems too minuscule.

Rockstar is crackling in the first half and a little tedious in the second. Imtiaz Ali narrowly misses out on that fourth ace from his sleeve to complete his quartet after his earlier three. But what the hell, a king’s no less a winner, and we now wait with bated breadth for that fourth ace.

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