Rockstar - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

Rockstar...underwhelming. Ranbir Kapoor portrays the pathos suffered in an epic, romantic tragedy. Unfortunately, that and of course Rahman's music are the only things that are epic about Rockstar. Other than that, it is an abrupt collage of images of awesomely shot rock shows and an attempt of a man and woman trying to find a place for their morals which the rest of the world finds misplaced. Underwhelming - is the word that keeps coming back to me ever since I left the theater.

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"Pursuit of happiness" and "right vs. wrong" are the difficult existential themes Rockstar grapples with. It entails defining happiness, defining right and wrong. Rockstar's ambition is to talk about one of the loveliest paradoxes - in order to pursue happiness, you have to be unhappy. Rockstar also wants to be an epic, romantic tragedy - Greek / Shakespearean / Devdas to Laila-Majnu to the protagonist's namesake - take your pick. Rockstar is that, but it leaves too many gaping holes for comfort.

I'm not asking for a water-tight thriller type answers, but I cannot suppress simple questions like - there are an awfully large number of talented people out there, why is Janardhan aka JJ aka Jordan or as we like to call him Ranbir Kapoor given so much leeway despite his obnoxious self. I understand him getting away with it once he is popular, but when he is a nobody? Just because he is willing to sign some agreements? This in a world full of talented soul-sellers - I mean both in their skill/art and selling their soul. I need to understand why his lady love hasn't heard of this concept called divorce - the involved families seemed open-minded enough.

In a film that is trying to transcend into another world, these questions might seem only mechanical. Having to answer them might be mere hindrances in the larger purpose of going beyond...to that field where right and wrong have no meaning. But then, the writer, Imtiaz Ali should've gone all the way and made it a film in which these questions didn't come to me - a film in which I'd absorb abstractism without any qualm.

Don't put in a silly and out-of-place bhabhi (sister-in-law). Don't put in a forced reason for the protagonist to be thrown out of his house. And please don't suddenly put in a rebellious song with a social commentary just because you had an awesome lyricist and the world's greatest music composer at your disposal. Your character, Jordan is least bothered with the environment and such. Maybe all films about rockstars have to show the star's angst against "society", symbolically and literally, which they dole out with brilliantly choreographed cinematography. But then all rockstars dope it up and you did avoid that, didn't you? Because there was no room for that in the story, just like there was no room for the said song in the film. Thankfully, the rest of the songs weave in and out of the film making it a beautiful musical.

And a beautiful musical it is. Given the Himalayas and Prague are its locations, I doubt there is anything a cinematographer or a director could have done wrong. And I doubt it'd bother too many of us for too long if the songs weren't picturized too well. We'd rant about it, and pop in a CD and listen to the music anyways, over and over again. The good thing is the film doesn't become all about the beauty of these places or only about the music. The not-so-good thing is that it doesn't become much about anything else either.

While you do feel for Jordan, it is solely because Ranbir Kapoor is desperately injecting life into the scattered screenplay with Jordan's plain and simple pain and unabashed self-destruction. I usually refrain from giving my suggestions on the changes that I'd have liked in the film, because that means I'm talking about a different film altogether. But, here, I can't resist wondering what Rockstar would've been like if it was neat and clean, linear. It'd have to be shorter for sure. The non-linearity didn't bother me per se, I just found it unnecessary and taking away from the plot. It didn't let the protagonists' suffering build up.

Especially that of the lead lady, Heer. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the gorgeous looking, hot (even in loose, traditional Kashmiri wear) Nargis Fakhri is a mistake. The 'new in films' discomfort is visible. Her comic timing is way off and she manages to mess the few good lines and situations in the first half. (then the writer give up on coming up with any original lines). Anyway, maybe we just have to wait for her to open up like Kareena Kapoor or Katrina Kaif. But the damage is done to the film at hand. Her inability to emote either her suppressed wild-side, her dilemma, or her physical frailty are the main weak link of Rockstar. The back-and-forth screenplay I would have been able to handle, if I felt my heroine's agony.

I didn't connect to her and therefore his love and lust for her. The scarier thing is I got a feeling that the director was treating his film with a one-arm distance too, almost wary that he might get too attached to his baby. I know many of you are keen, but I really don't see as many of us enjoying this one for what it is. Yes, yes, this recommendation is after discounting for high expectations.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Generic fist fights between police and Ranbir Kapoor
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A porn theater, a couple of strip clubs, a few kisses, and a couple of scenes with making out.
  • Concept: A romantic tragedy
  • General Look and Feel: Starts out bright, goes on to become grim and dark.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 3.5
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 2
  • Screenplay: 0.5
  • Music Director: 4
  • Lyrics: 5

Rockstar - Movie Details

Rockstar - Trailer

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Comments (15)

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Nikhil:

Movie will be great....

Rahul:

Watch "Socha Na Tha". And I think Rockstar will be great. Another reason to believe so is Taran Adarsh's review - it seems he could not understand the movie. :)

Rahul:

:(. I was expecting a lot from this.

meetu:

@Nikhil I thought so too,

@Rahul yeah, me too! :( Well, anyway as promised, I watched "Socha Na Tha" and it had some brilliant moments. And as far as understanding the movie, there wasn't anything very mystic about it.

meetu:

@Anand Glad to be of service :P Though I must say it is not as bad as Mausam. But, yeah you could wait for it to be on TV/cable.

sunny:

good yar!!!ranbir rockkkkkssssss

amit:

Totally disagree, movie was amongst the best films to come out in recent times. Yes, it had many unanswered questions as pointed out by you, but instead of answering those questions, the director decided to focus on the journey of Janardhan to Jordan, which was far more interesting and hear touching. A brilliantly directed movie, with the same script, most film makers would have made a mess of the films, but Imtiaz managed to pull it out well. And well Nargis is a talent to watch out for.

Sumith:

Hey meetu . I loved the movie ! I'm a hardcore movie maniac and keep posting my opinions on movies on fb but this is my first attempt at a proper review and i've started with Rockstar. Please check out my blog link and let me know what you think. Your precious advice will be of great help to me.

meetu:

@Amit I'm fascinated by the reactions of people who have loved the movie. They loved it so much that they don't mind the flaws. Exactly, the thing that happens with me, when I love a film. I'm actually sad, that the flaws in the story were overpowering for me. Oh well...

@Sumith aawww! Thank you so much... keep writing.

@Rachit I'm so glad that you enjoyed the film.

@Anuj here's the explanation - http://wogma.com/to-each-his-own/#external_reviews Let me know if you need any further qualification.

@Shilpa true...

@Rashmi well, it's their creative choice and i guess he envisioned it in a certain way and there are people who loved it. Sad that it didn't work for us :(

meetu:

@Sumith sent an e-mail :D

@Anuj for me a film is over and above my love/dislike of its main "star" I liked Hrithik in ZNMD, I liked SRK in Chak De - and yet i'm not at all a "fan" of either of their acting skills, far from it.

@Datta ho jaaye! shoot an e-mail [email protected] :D

@Mudit I thought all my reviews were blatant :D Anyway, we agree on this one. I have yet to buy the audio CD so still haven't given the songs a repeated listen, which they so do deserve.

@Divya true, very true. And actually it's true of every film or i'd take a step further and say every piece of art. It is indeed a relationship between the audience and the author.

Perx:

I respectfully disagree.. I'll point out the most obvious thing here though.. Sadda Haq is not about Tibet, the environment or worldly issues.. it's about him asking for his right to live the way he wants to live.. it's very internal.. If you want to read my entire interpretation of the film, perx.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/imtiaz-rockstar/

or Sudish Kamath's review..which i personally recommend you should read if you want to understand what the movie is about: sudhishkamath.com/2011/11/18/rockstar-in-search-of-the-free-bird/

meetu:

@Perx Yes, it is obvious 'sadda haq' is not about any of these things, but the way JJ's character has been built, i don't see him using any of these to comment either, it comes across as the director's angst, not the character's and "for effect". I will read Sudhish Kamath's review in a bit but even before I do so, I must point out, that I completely respect his opinion as do yours. It's a matter of what you like and what you are willing to forgive because of how much you have liked what you liked. A movie-watching experience is always about this, isn't it?

@Pariksht Sorry to disappoint, boss. But this review is an accumulation of thoughts just after watching the film and for the few hours after that - underwhelming

@Siddhartha Unfortunately, it comes across as I rated Ranbir Kapoor as 3.5. I actually rate him as 5 and the other person that makes the "lead cast" a 0, so the average should've actually been 2.5, but I felt that was too harsh on Ranbir, thus bumped him up to more than 5/5. Actually, in the same vein I should have bumped it down again to give Nargis negative points, but...let it go.

TimELiebe:

@Meetu - Boy Howdy, we didn't get more than a half hour into ROCKSTAR before we ejected the DVD and re-watched ALADIN (a favorite of my wife, Tammy's) instead! Between the stocky guy with the mustache dispensing "pearls of wisdom" about Suffering For Your Art (which sounded suspiciously like the BS one of Tammy's ex-boyfriends, a mostly self-published fantasy writer, likes to spew!), the "unstuck in time" editing and Janardhan's pushy stalker-dude behavior towards Heer (yes, we understand it's to show he's Truly Madly Deeply in love with her, but it just comes off as really creepy), it was a Must To Miss for all of us American Indian Movie fans.

In this case, I don't think you can chalk our discomfort off to "cultural differences". Certainly The Annoying But Deep-Down Great Guy Who Hangs Around The Girl Until She Falls In Love With Him is a popular trope of both Indian Movies and American Television Shows - but when Shah Rukh Khan or Askhay Kumar (or Nathan Fillion over here!) does it, there's something under the Annoying that makes you want to succeed. None of us got this in this movie....

meetu:

@TimELiebe this is one in which I was swimming against the tide. It was a difficult one. :D

Tom:

I too had great expectation from this movie but it was kind of against the usual story line of a Bollywood movie. Loved the songs though. :)

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