ROCKSTAR (2011) Hindi Movie Review: Flawed Genius

Rockstar Hindi Movie at INOX Theater Kolkata

Calcutta, Nov 11, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) The wait is finally over. Director Imtiaz Ali is back with his fourth film, ‘Rockstar’, after a gap of nearly two years. Going by the standards he had already set for himself with the delightful yet underrated ‘Socha Na Tha’, the practically flawless ‘Jab We Met’ and the mature ‘Love Aaj Kal’, nothing short of a cinematic genius was expected out of this Ranbir Kapoor starrer. So, is the film actually as good as the enormous pre-release hype and buzz it had generated? Well, almost.

Ranbir Kapoor - Nargis Fakhri in ROCKSTAR Hindi Movie
Ranbir Kapoor - Nargis Fakhri in ROCKSTAR Hindi Movie

‘Rockstar’ tells the story of the naive yet ambitious Janardhan Jakhar, who idolizes Jim Morrison and hopes to become a rock icon like the great man himself someday. While the musical talent of Janardhan is never in doubt, all his early efforts towards stardom meet with failure. In a desperate fit of introspection, Janardhan realizes that, the music of all successful rock musicians reflect the pain and pathos the artists have experienced in their own lives. Holding his own peaceful life as the sole reason behind his musical failure thus far, our protagonist sets out to...hold your breath...get his heart broken, so that he can create music that would find acceptance among rock-loving audience. How to do that? Simple again: our hero woos the gorgeous and snooty campus babe (Nargis Fakhri) with the sole expectation that his love would remain unrequited, and his heart would be broken. Well, Janardhan does suffer heartbreak and his angst and suffering are duly reflected in his now-popular music, but success comes at a price far greater than he had bargained for.

The plot of ‘Rockstar’ is interesting indeed and the director deserves a round of applause for choosing rock music as the backdrop for his film – particularly because the genre is yet to find firm ground among Indian audiences. The difficulties of a Delhi boy to pursue his dreams and the sheer unwillingness of people to hear Janardhan strumming his guitar is entirely believable too. Naivety leads him to pursue an unconventional method to attain glory, and we are still hooked to the film. The problem starts when the movie stops being what it was meant to be – the journey of a rock singer – and tries to become an epic saga. Selecting a novel idea is all very fine, but developing the narrative for the entire length of the movie is quite another matter – and this is where ‘Rockstar’ disappoints.

Ranbir Kapoor delivers a sincere performance in ‘Rockstar’. The way he portrays the transformation of the simple and peace-loving ‘Janardhan’ into the angst-ridden, egoistic ‘Jordan’ is indeed praiseworthy. Nargis Fakhri’s performance comes as a pleasant surprise, as she plays the aloof yet restless young girl, looking for an outlet to let go of her emotions, realizing at the same time that, she does not have much time as a carefree person. The original rockstar of the Hindi film industry, Shammi Kapoor, plays Ustad Jameel Khan, the person who first realizes that all Janardhan needs for success is freedom. This is the last time viewers would see the ‘Yahoo Man’ onscreen and he would surely be missed by all cine-goers. Kumud Mishra, as Ranbir’s only friend and ally in the big, bad world, delivers a great performance. Piyush Mishra and Aditi Rao Hydari do justice to their roles. Shernaz Patel is wasted.

A.R. Rahman returns to full-scale bollywood music direction with ‘Rockstar’, and this is where another surprise (not a pleasant one this time!) lies. Imtiaz Ali’s movies have always boasted of tremendous music, with the ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’-s and the ‘Yeh Dooriyan’-s achieving cult status. Nothing even remotely close comes from any of the tracks of ‘Rockstar’, except for the probable exception of ‘Sadda Haq’. Songs like ‘Katiyan Karun’ and ‘Nadaan Parinday’ are more situation-oriented and are unlikely to stay with the viewers, once the movie is over. The energetic ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ starts promisingly enough, but fails to really stir up the audience. The best one can say about Rahman’s work in the film is ‘interesting’, but hey, ‘interesting’ is hardly enough in a film that is based on music. This is another area where ‘Rockstar’ takes a hit. A special word of praise for Mohit Chauhan would be in order though, as he brings to life the voice of ‘Rockstar’. Only if the music had a little more appeal!

‘Rockstar’ is a brave attempt to blend the story of an aspiring rock artist into the mainstream patterns of Hindi cinema. However, this is hardly the finest performance of Ranbir till date (that has got to be ‘Rajneeti’), nor is it the best work of Imtiaz Ali. The movie is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but, with the promising storyline and the acting talent onboard, it could have been much, much better.

Rating: 2.5/5

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