Friday, December 02, 2011

Rockstar – Anna Karenina in the time of Jim Morrison

Director Imtiaz Ali probably understands romance the best amongst the current crop of Bollywood directors. Socha Na Tha was a conventional romantic genre movie, on the other hand Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal explored a very different strain of romance. In the former a spunky lady gets rejected by the guy she loves while in the latter the guy and girl break up only to realize after much time and heart break that they are meant for each other. All these movies though end with the lead pair at the altar of marriage and the proverbial walk off into the sunset living happily ever after. Rockstar [a most inappropriate title] on the other hand explores unrequited love, an epic romance fuelled by a love outside of the socially accepted convention of marriage fuelling rage and destruction for the persons involved.

While Deepika Padukone finds the conviction to tell her husband on the night of her marriage that she does not love him, Heer [Nargis Fakhri] is a much more conventional woman. As sparks fly when she meets her partner in crime post marriage [a right-out-of-college-marriage] she can only say “Yeh sahi nahin hai” when they kiss. In real life Heer is the rule while Deepika is the exception. Unlike Imtiaz’s other heroes Jordan here is very sure of his love for Heer. Being a musician inspired by Jim Morrison it draws the predictable response-rage when his love is not requited.

The rage that thanks to AR Rahman’s excellent soundtrack is expressed beautifully in his music makes him a darling of the masses and he can finally show the middle finger like his idol in public. A singer who would just dab alcohol on his face and clothes to act drunk is now spurred on by an inner fire, and just when he has a second chance at Heer’s love reality intrudes in the form of the paparazzi leading to one of the most tragic ends we have ever seen. No wonder then that about his success all he can say is “Mujhe lagta hai ki mujhe keedey kaat rahe hain har dam”

Imtiaz Ali choses to shoot the movie in bits and fragments with a “non-linear” narrative. We are not a big fan of non-linear narratives for the sake of it but in this case it accentuates the way a person as de-ranged as Jordan would remember his life pass by if he ever did, maybe while setting a guitar on fire next to him under the shower. And the way some shots are composed -- Watch the way Ranbir Kapoors eyes blaze with an uncontrollable hate, when post dinner Heer’s husband puts his hand on her shoulder, or a lingering sequence when Heer is leaving Jordan “Apna Kaam Jaldi Khatam Karo aur waapas aao”, little knowing what the circumstances of their next and final meeting will be. Such is the conversation that real life couples have and remember. Aah and of all of Shammi’s songs to shoot “Tareef Karoon Kya Uski”* really made our day.

AR Rehman’s sound track is as much an integral part of Rockstar as Imtiaz Ali, for a movie about Rock I went in with mixed feelings expecting to be disappointed [Rock On anyone]. We were in for a pleasant surprise, the sound track not only lived up to the title but is one of the most effective, easily his best after Delhi-6.

There has been a lot of criticism on the choice of the heroine, but surely the role required a slightly vain, beautiful girl. Like quite a few beautiful people I know who are also slightly blank especially when confronted with the tragedy, we personally did not feel that it spoilt the movie for us or would have enhanced the experience for us with a better emoting actress. Ranbir Kapoor goes slightly over enthusiastic with his wide eyed realization at the Dargah but otherwise plays the part spontaneously rather than spoil it with “method acting” that would have stuck a false note in a movie driven by a singer whose demons are all internal.

* -- Made our day since Kashmir Ki Kali is a very special song for a person we absolutely adore and now miss a lot.