Review - Rock On: Friends are forever...

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

Who hasn’t had a row with a friend? Time to make that call and hug the friend you didn’t patch-up with ages ago. That’s the warmth you feel while watching Rock On!!. In the end, you connect and that’s what counts!

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It’s youthful yet elegant. It’s contemporary yet identifiable with, by anyone who’s had a tiff with a close one. Yes, the layers of love for rock music and issues related to urban life need to be peeled off. But at the core it’s a very simple story told with compassion and sophistication.

That doesn’t mean all your questions are answered. The details of the main conflict are left to your imagination. But, the manner in which you are drawn into the story shows that smart people have been involved in its making. So, I submitted myself, albeit grudgingly, to the fact that their heart was in bringing us the resolution and not the clash. I’d suggest you do the same.

Whenever I complain about a cliché or predictability in movies/stories, I question myself, is it such a bad thing? How could they have avoided it in this situation? But, I end up with just one answer - it depends on how it is done. Is it natural, does it flow? Is the nature and flow convincing? The obvious call of events in Rock on!! worked for me because I found myself getting attached to the characters and their relatively ordinary lives. (Even though the characters were being followed by spotlights on half their faces!)

Each character in the foursome is representative of the kind of people any group of friends has. The idealist whose self-respect does not resign to compromise (Arjun Rampal), the slightly self-centered one who can’t see when he falters (Farhan Akhtar), the easy-go-lucky-cum-jackass who doesn’t let anything bother him too much (Purab Kohli) and the one who’s more emotionally attached to the ‘group’ sentiment than the rest (Luke Kenny).

The slight shiver in Farhan’s hands when confronted by his past, made me gape in awe of not just the actor but also the director, Abhishek Kapoor. Unbelievable that the man’s last effort was the appalling Aryan. Same goes for Arjun who looked like he was holding back the dialogues to keep his moustache from falling. Even so, I found myself cheering for him when he came to take his final bow. Purab and Luke too didn’t necessarily have the greatest body language yet, you felt bad for how things were shaping up for them when the going was tough.

With male-bonding as the central theme, it’s refreshing to see women with well thought out characters who influence the direction of the story. Prachi Desai is the strong yet vulnerable Sakshi. You feel like shaking her man to consciousness when he’s ignoring her despite the anxiety her eyes convey. You sympathize with Debbie’s frustration which Shahana Goswami so strongly brings across.

We see ourselves getting pulled into the narrative because the writer, Abhishek Kapoor, has given each of these characters detailed attention. Together, they mature smoothly from adolescent “we can conquer the world” enthusiasm to learning to live life the hard way. And yet, even the two less important roles (Purab and Luke) have defining qualities and are not restricted to being the protagonists’ “inner voice”. Moreover, this is all done in good humor.

Writer, Abhishek has also shown some imaginative strokes. The onscreen performances of the actors mirror the status of their characters in the band throughout the movie. Almost as if the rock band’s chemistry is shared by the four actors. Also, despite parallel narration of two time-spans, very rarely does any event seem out of place.
A plausible complaint could be made against the run-time and pace of the movie. I would argue that any tampering with that would take away from the poise and charm of the experience.

*

Note on music: My exposure to rock music is negligible. I was recently educated by a rock-enthusiast that lyrics are very plain and factual in rock music. The focus is on the music. This conversation obviously came about when I was complaining about the lyrics of Rock On!! while appreciating how different the music was.

I’m still not convinced the lyrics should be highlighted by loud and clear pronunciation, if they are not the focus, especially when they are more or less lame.

“aasmaan kyon neela, paani kyon geela geela” would sound great in a kids’ song like “bum bum bhole“, but didn’t work for me here. (Why’s the sky blue, and water all wet? It’d have been alright if the lines at the very least sounded poetic like “Why’s the sky blue, and the water full of dew?”) Songs from “Zindaggi Rocks” had awesome lyrics; does that not qualify as rock, then?

Anyway, I’m going to buy the CD for the music to grow on me. Oh yeah, do stick around till the last title card shows up.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple fist fights.
  • Sexual content: A couple of tiny make-out scenes.
  • Concept: Friendship, bonding, forgiving and forgetting. While real little ones might not get it, a child above 10 might be able to grasp the concepts.
  • General Look and Feel: It doesn’t have bright color tones. But, the kids might enjoy the songs and the overall feel might be appealing.

Rock On - Movie Details

Rock On - Trailer

Comments (16)

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Rock On Review...

Who hasn't had a row with a friend? Time to make that call and hug the friend you didn’t patch-up with ages ago. That's the warmth you feel while watching Rock On!! In the end, you connect, and that's what counts!...

budkalra:

Rock on completely Rockssssssssssssssssssssssssss
after a long time beauty of direction with SEL Music with nice touch of Farhan Voice

this movie rocks guys
but only njoy at theather not at home with pirated movie

so spends some bucks and go nd get rock

Matanet:

Good luck Dear Arjun

Jahan Bakshi:

Indulgent *** star rating aside, I still think it's so-so... didn't like it that much, too flat in too many places, and then there were those cliches. Ah. Another case of overrated hysteria for a film, a la TZP.

meetu:

Thanks for stopping by Jahan. I usually try to rate it the way I feel while walking out of the theater. The attempt is to give most weightage to time spent in the hall, and this one I was engrossed all through. And same goes for TZP

Gaurav Suryavanshi:

Thats an interesting take. You're definitely a movie lover. Here's my take on the movie. regards.

http://www.gauravs.com/movie-review/rock-on

Jahan Bakshi:

Exactly- that's why I feel I got carried away by other reactions to the film. I was pretty bored through the first half, and though it turned out to be decent by the end, I wasn't exactly elated, which is perhaps the emotion I should have felt. Still, it's a good effort and has some good and subtle detailing, so, well...

meetu:

Oh, is that so, Mayur? I guess people who liked the songs, were okay with lyrics too,

meetu:

Hey cine freak!

Are you saying you liked Farhan's voice or not? If you think technology did wonders then that would mean you liked the voice only you think its been synthetically edited.

"just because you are bad musicians, does not mean you would be bad salesmen of jewellery or would not help your wife in the fish business!"

sure! but whether or not you are bad or good musicians, you could be bad jewellery salesmen and might not be passionate about selling fish.

No cine freak, wives do need more than a husband who's 'doing well'! Many of us do need a husband who connects, who talks, who tells us about his past and passions.

You are the second person who recommended "almost famous" to me. The other guy, though loved "Rock on!!" too. Anyway, surely goes on my 'to watch' list.

meetu:

Hmmm...Cinefreak. To me the movie was certainly more about relationships rather than the music, let alone the rock scene in Bombay 10 years ago. There's hardly any mention of the technicalities. It might as well have been football, a theater group, or any other group passion.

Maybe I'm treading dangerous waters here, but Amadeus didn't get too technical on us either. It was a story that the makers thought we needed to watch. Granted, Rock on worked for some of us and didn't for others, which is true for any thing/person/issue that is judged, right?

meetu:

@cinefreak - I concede on Amadeus. In general, I think two movies cannot be compared, even if they are remakes. Totally, my bad!

About relationships and characters in Rock On!!
Between Aditya and Sakshi - the strain in the relationship is obvious from their first scene together. They are superficially content. The housewife finds something amiss despite all the comforts being provided for. Aditya is not a fool, but he's in denial that the break-up of the band made him vulnerable enough to give up music.
How can someone give up something they are so passionate about? Like I mentioned, its not clarified here, and is dissatisfying. For some reason they denied us the conflict. To that a friend had a simple explanation. He said, to a man's ego, one slap is enough, that too coming from a close friend. I'm still not completely convinced.

The relationship between Aditya and Jo was glorified by actual words between KD and Rob. But, the subtleties were there too. The scene between Aditya and Jo when they reunite. The awkwardness melting with a hug. Good ol' times taking over the bad experiences.

The relationship between Jo and Debbie was the best. Jo's constant reluctance to Debbie's overbearing nagging but resistance to doing anything about it, because he knows she's right. Debbie feels bad for Jo, but has to do the right thing, what she thinks is good for the family.

There are many, many glitches here. But, when I get involved and want good things to happen between Aditya and Jo despite them being super-selfish, making me overlook all the flaws, the makers did something right.

I'm not defending the flaws, I'm saying the overall impact made me ignore them. Not necessarily a good thing, but if a movie sucks me in, I can't deny credit.

I completely understand why it didn't work for you. You are passionate about movies. You want the makers to think more than the rest of us. That can only be good for Hindi cinema. :) Us demanding more sense.

meetu:

Me too, cine freak. I'm sure you've heard this concept of enjoying a movie despite realizing that they are not good. Enjoyment is something that you have no control over, or rather you shouldn't have control over. Acknowledging that what you've enjoyed is good cinema or not, however is something in your hands.

These things are obviously as subjective as it can get. I love the analysis done by David Bordwell on this subject - http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2315

Seriously, there must be one movie that you enjoyed but knew it had its share of flaws...which one was it?

"To me the irony of Rock on is that the message is about not compromising, but the film is exactly the opposite!"

lol! Have you considered writing reviews?

"The audience especially the multiplex audience is the worst in my opinion!"

Now, that's a bit too harsh. If it were not this audience, movies like Mithya, Bheja Fry, Summer 2007, Khuda Ke Liye, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. would not have happened. I hope you liked at least one of these to make sense of that sentence.

Oh come on! I'm sure there are popular movies that these people have seen and you haven't. As much as we would like people to "eat, drink, live cinema" they do have a life to live, right? Who's going to run our groceries, manage our banks, teach our children if we most of us watched all popular movies.

I agree people who tend to watch fewer movies tend to like whatever they see. But, that can hardly be held against them. In fact, its the film-makers burden to have the person who sees most movies like his/her work too.

Btw, I'm loving this interaction!

meetu:

I meant enjoying the film, cinefreak not the environment. Anyway, I still don't feel you can name a particular type of cine-goer. Single screen theaters too, I'm pretty sure would've also had "kaantaa lagaaaaa" blasting from one corner during the most serene/serious cinematic moment. Do you visit single screens anymore?

Would Hazaro Khawaishein Aisi have run for more than that span if there were no multiplexes? In fact it released just after E-square opened and E-square was only the 3rd if not 2nd multiplex in town. So, the audience there might have been the single screen audience a couple of months ago. See, my point is that, the quality of cinema is more the onus of the filmmaker than the larger audience.

Yeah people like you and maybe me can raise our voices against the 'Om Shanti Om's and 'Baghban's

I'm not compromising, I'm saying I liked something despite its flaws. To trash the movie despite enjoying it and having been involved for most of the 150 minutes - that would be compromise.

Didn't understand your Pauline Kael statement. I have read only a few of her articles.

meetu:

:) ok anshuman!

meetu:

Thanks for your observations, Vivek.

u2s the great:

hi strangers
i would like to say you friendly that this movie is realy great and shows how the friends together can fight all the storms and make all the dreams come true.
i mistakely came to watch this movie and still i am found watching it at home again and again...i warn you dont watch this fucking movie as you will be addictedt to watch it atleast once a day like me.............its the choice of all the youth..so is mine and hope that it will be yours

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