10 years of Rockstar Revisiting the uncut gem 1
Akash Kumar Saha
Imtiaz Ali is a versatile creator. In his widely celebrated filmography we have both massive hits like Jab We Met (2007) and underrated pieces like Highway (2014). In 2011 came the much anticipated Rockstar with Ranbir in the lead. By that time, Ranbir cemented himself as the next big thing in the industry. So all eyes were on the magic that the actor-director duo promised to bring on screen. It’s been 10 years and now is a great time to revisit the film.
Story and other technical aspects
Ranbir plays Janardhan Jakhar, a talented youngster dreaming big. One day he got to know from Khatana bhai (played by Kumud Mishra) that heartbreak is essential to become a successful artist (‘’Tute huye dil se hi sangeet nikalta hai, jab dil ki lagti hai, Tukde tukde hote hai, Tab aati hai jhankaar’’). So he goes around looking for that ‘inspirational heartbreak’. He meets Heer Kaul (played by Nargis Fakhri) with this mission in mind and soon they become inseparable. Later he goes on to become a massive rockstar. But that first heartbreak turns out to be the reason for his immense suffering. He has everything that he dreamt of, and yet he is all alone in his world.
Right from the very beginning we are intrigued by the mystery surrounding this violent rockstar. The storytelling is nonlinear. We are told JJ”s story from different perspectives. This provides a grip of reality for the audience. The editing by Aarti Bajaj is efficient. Rockstar is a giant collage filled with beautiful montages and stunning visuals. The color palette is also handled with utmost care. Initially we see the protagonist wearing light colored outfits, showing his innocence and the sense of hope he represents. Later we see his outfits turning towards the deep shades. This reflects the internal struggle and pain that would eventually engulf him. It’s a shocking journey throughout and Imtiaz guides us with care.
One of the best things about Rockstar is it’s music composed by A.R. Rahman. 10 years have passed and we still spend countless hours going over the album. Be it the soulful ‘Kun faya kun’ , the joyous ‘Phir se ud chala’ or the downright rebellious ‘Sadda haq’, Rockstar has songs for all our moods. Having one singer sing all of the songs was an essential yet out of the box idea at that time in Bollywood. Mohit Chauhan did it gracefully. Lyricist Irshad Kamil is excellent with his simple yet powerful words. As a movie that is heavily reliant on it’s music, Rockstar surpassed all the expectations. Even in the current turmoil of bollywood music, Rockstar lives on as the gentle breeze.
One of the key qualities of Ranbir Kapoor is that he doesn’t shy away from choosing different kinds of roles. He analyses each of his characters carefully and his dedication is always visible on screen. In Rockstar, he is doing all the heavy lifting. In the first half he plays a regular guy from a small town with great ambition. Later he is this disturbed rockstar being haunted by his love, spiralling out of control. With such a wide range in hand, Ranbir never seemed out of place. His dialogues are pretty ordinary. Yet the expression and emotion with which he delivers them are priceless. Those were the early days of a budding actor. But even today there are very few actors who can portray such a difficult character. Rockstar remains one of Ranbir’s finest works and a slap to anybody who ever questioned his capabilities as an actor.
By no means Rockstar is perfect. It is a really long movie and though the storytelling is engaging, in some parts it dragged. But surely the biggest issue is the lead actress Nargis Fakhri. She is absolutely terrible as Heer in this movie. Interestingly, in some ways the brilliance of Ranbir really brings the focus on her poor performance. With so many capable actresses around at that time, it is baffling why Imtiaz went with her. A weak lead can mar the brilliance of any movie. Sadly Rockstar is an example of that.
Even after 10 years, the impact of Rockstar remains fresh. It came out at a time when Bollywood hardly appreciated poetic efforts. The audience of ‘quality cinema’ has grown a lot in a decade. Along with so many highs and a few lows, Rockstar remains a movie that was way ahead of its time.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.