Business rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Star cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Piyush Mishra, Shernaz Patel, Shammi Kapoor.
What’s Good: The performances; the music; the look of the film; the photography and locations.
What’s Bad: A couple of questions unanswered in the film; the class appeal of the film; the dark and depressing portions of the second half.
Verdict: Rockstar will meet with a mixed response: one section of the audience (mainly youngsters in the cities) will love it while another section (mainly the single-screen audience and public of smaller cities) will find it ordinary.
Loo break: Not really.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for the great performance of Ranbir Kapoor.
Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd. and Eros International’s Rockstar (UA) is the story of a simple guy who dreams of becoming a famous musician.
Janardhan Jakhar (Ranbir Kapoor) is a simple boy from Delhi whose idol is rockstar Jim Morrison. His friends poke fun at his dreams of becoming a rockstar. Khatana (Kumud Mishra), who is, in a way, his sympathiser, tells him that all great musicians in the world have one thing in common – they have had a big tragedy in their lives, they’ve had heartbreaks. Janardhan, whose life is almost a bed of roses, is perplexed. How can he have a heartbreak? He makes advances towards Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri), a rich and arrogant girl who studies in his college. Heer’s initial irritation and arrogance give way to fondness and friendship when she realises, he is harmless. The friendship grows when Heer invites him to Kashmir for her marriage. Like a loyal friend, Janardhan goes with Heer and helps with the wedding preparations. Just before marriage, Heer realises, she loves Janardhan but doesn’t have the courage to tell this to her parents or even openly to Janardhan. After marriage, Heer goes off to Prague with her husband.
Here, Janardhan is thrown out of his home by his brother for a robbery he hasn’t committed. He tides over the difficult times by staying in a dargah and singing hymns in praise of Allah. A classical singer, Ustad Jameel Khan (Shammi Kapoor), hears him singing one day and prompts Dhingra (Piyush Mishra), the owner of a music company, to sign him as he foresees a great future for him. Janardhan’s work is now being looked after by his sympathiser, Khatana.
Suddenly, one day, Janardhan gets an opportunity to go to Prague with a few other singers. Once there, he meets Heer who is battling depression. Sparks fly between them and Janardhan and Heer have a wild and lustful time together. Heer’s good-natured husband and in-laws are unaware of Heer’s passionate encounters with Janardhan as they only see him as a friend who has taken Heer out of depression.
Then, one day, Heer’s husband and in-laws learn of the affair. Janardhan, who has, by now, mesmerised the people of Prague with his songs, is arrested for trespassing on Heer’s property. Heer’s mental condition once again deteriorates and she is hospitalised. Back in India, Janardhan is a rockstar known by the name of Jordan.
What happens thereafter? Does Heer return to India? Or does Jordan go back to Prague? Or do the two never meet? What about Jordan’s rise to fame? What about Heer’s illness?
Rockstar Movie Review: Script Analysis
Imtiaz Ali and Muazzam Beg’s story about a young man’s rise to superstardom is quite different from the usual commercial fare because it deals with the love story of a married woman and her college friend, both of who have no qualms or regrets about the extra-marital affair. However, the screenplay, penned by Imtiaz Ali, is of the kind which would appeal to the classes mainly. The writer has not even attempted to give a reason for the extra-marital affair, which would be difficult for the orthodox and non-elitist audience to accept. It is not as if Heer’s husband is bad or that he ill-treats her. Also, the fact that Janardhan literally forcibly kisses Heer on her lips in Prague is a bit too much for the orthodox Indian audience to accept because she is a married woman and he is the hero of the drama. Since the entire second half is about and around the extra-marital affair, it keeps nagging the audience which wants things explained in clear and logical terms. Even the extra-marital affair may have been overlooked by some of the orthodox audience if that affair would’ve had a magical effect on Heer’s illness in the end but when that doesn’t happen, the audience is unable to stop itself from seeking reasons for the affair – and not finding any.
The narrative style is also a bit confusing for the audience as overlapping scenes have been used to further the drama.
On the plus side, the making is fresh and the canvas, big and wonderful. Dialogues, penned by Imtiaz Ali, are very natural. The film is extremely colourful and youthful and for that section of the youth, which won’t question the morals of Janardhan and Heer, the film becomes a veritably enjoyable fare.
Again, a minus point of the drama is that comic and light moments are few and far between. The second half, especially, becomes dark and even depressing. Emotions don’t draw tears.
Rockstar Review: Star Performances
Ranbir Kapoor does an extraordinary job. His acting is excellent and it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that he has lived the role of Janardhan/Jordan. He has played the simpleton, the passionate lover, and the rockstar with aplomb. His is indeed an award-winning performance and one which takes him to the next level. Nargis Fakhri makes a very promising debut. She looks pretty and does an extremely confident job. She would qualify for awards for the best debut. Kumud Mishra is lovely. Piyush Mishra is first-rate. Aditi Rao Hydari is very natural as the reporter. Shernaz Patel is dignified. Shammi Kapoor lends star value and delivers a mature performance in a short role. Moufid Aziz, Shikha Jain and Avantika Akrekar are alright as Heer’s husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law respectively. Shreya Narayanan leaves a mark as Janardhan’s sister-in-law. Devinder Madan and baby Zoya make their presence felt in tiny roles as Janardhan’s mother and niece. Sharad Sharma is okay as Heer’s father. Akash Dahiya, Ram Menon, Vamsi Krishna and Parul Vaid lend ordinary support as Janardhan’s college friends.
Rockstar Review: Direction & Music
Imtiaz Ali’s direction is first-rate. He has made the film like a painting on celluloid. But his narrative style is of a kind which will be loved by the youth, liked by the elite and not appreciated too much by the audience of the single-screen cinemas and small centres.
A.R. Rahman’s music comprises some hit numbers and some which are not too easy on the lips. Sadda haq, Hawaa hawaa, Katiya Karoon and Kun faya are very appealing songs. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are rich and wonderful. Song picturisations (Ashley Lobo and Bosco Caesar) are refreshing. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is extraordinary. Editing, by Aarti Bajaj, is very different in style from what one is used to seeing. Production values are grand.
Rockstar Review: Komal Nahta’s Verdict
On the whole, Rockstar will be loved by one section of the audience – mainly the youth in the multiplexes of the big cities. But there will also be a section – mainly the single-screen audience, masses and small-centre audience – which will find the drama dark and depressing. Given the film’s high cost on the one hand (around Rs. 60-62 crore) and its lovely start on the other, crossing the average mark shouldn’t be a problem.