At the beginning of this year, I had made up my mind to watch at least two films in theater – Rockstar and Don 2. Not that I didnt watch any other films in theater this year, in fact ended up watching lot more than I usually do. But when this film got released last week, I had to see it somehow and that too before somebody else could tell me the story. And I had more than one reason for watching this film – it’s Shammi Kapoor’s last film, has Ranbir Kapoor(though I almost committed suicide watching Anjaana Anjaani, I still love this guy) and is directed by Imtiaz Ali. So, I went hunting for a theater playing this film and watched it.
Movie begins with Jordan’s concert, and as the song begins, we are taken to the flashback –
Janardhan Jakhar aka JJ (Ranbir Kapoor) hails from a middle class joint family and studies in The Hindu college. He’s obsessed with music and he dreams of becoming a rockstar someday.
He plays guitar and sings songs in an attempt to entertain people at the bus stop but is dragged away by police. He complains to his friends that life’s not fair – There’s Jim Morrison who gets applauded for showing his middle finger to the crowd and there’s him, who almost gets caught just for playing music in public.
Mr. Khatana (Kumud Mishra), owner of their college canteen, one day tells him that all great people – be it singers, musicians, writers, painters, poets have one thing in common – pain and tragedy! According to him – “toote hue dil se hi sangeet nikalta hai”, one has to endure great pain and loss in life. Only tragedy has the power of igniting that kind of dedication, passion and intensity towards something which sets them apart from the rest of the people and makes them famous and successful.
JJ has neither fallen in love, nor got his heart broken, nor been kicked out of his house, has never been to prison either. He’s the biological son of his parents and both of them are still alive. In short, he has never encountered tragedy in life till now. So, according to Mr. Khatana he doesnt stand a chance of becoming famous and successful.
He attends few musical auditions in college but never gets selected. His friends feel he doesn’t have the style and attitude to get listeners hooked to him and that’s a very important trait for any performer. He tries to learn to be little stylish on stage but fails miserably.
One day he sees Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri) at a dance competition in college. His friends have an entire biography of hers and surprisingly he’s still ignorant of her. Heer – from Stephen’s college, who’s been winning all dance competitions so far and is now performing for one last time. She’s basically from Kashmir, is engaged to some guy, Jai (Moufid Aziz) who’s settled abroad and is getting married to him and going away. All this information about her is passed across to JJ when she’s dancing on stage. But the only thing that draws his attention is the fact that she’s a serial heart-breaker. She’s popularly known as “dil todne wali machine”. Janardhan who’s desparate to get his heart broken, so that he can become famous, sees a ray of hope and decides to try his luck with her. He walks up to her and proposes to her in a very funny style – the famous scene that’s been doing rounds in trailers : “Aye, Hi, I louve you. Girlfriend ban jaa meri. Tu aur main rrrrock karenge, bata raha hoon. Soch ke dekh.”
When she insults him infront of all her friends and sends him away he acts heartbroken and goes to Khatana’s canteen and orders for samosas to drown, rather swallow his sorrow. He tries a couple of times to woo her but she just doesnt give him a damn.
And when he realizes it’s not working, he gives up the hope of getting his heart broken and starts ignoring her. And this makes her curious as to what he’s upto. One fine day, she calls him to ask him what this is all about. He tells her the truth that he’s not really interested in her. He was pursuing her only because of her reputation. He says she’s pretty and “neat and clean” but he doesnt find her all that great. And when he walks away, she calls him from behind and says she’s going to watch a porn film named “Junglee Jawani” in one of the shabby local theaters. So much for her neat and clean and elegant image! He doesnt take her seriously in the beginning, thinks she’s kidding but when he realizes that she’s really going for the movie, he’s amazed at her and he goes along with her. In fact, he takes her for the movie. Once the ice is broken, they bond very well.
She tells him that she’s going to get married and go away. She’ll have to behave like a sophisticated lady then, so she has lots of things to do in a very short span of time, ie, before she gets married – like trying desi daaru, going to a cheap pub and dancing etc. Seeing her zeal for life, he promises her that he’ll help her fulfill all these wild dreams of hers. She makes a list of to-do things and he takes her to all these places. In the mean while music takes a back seat in his life.
He lies at home and goes to Kashmir for her wedding. He’s everywhere – helping people put up the lights, decorate the house, take her out for shopping. Almost reminded me of SRK in DDLJ. And when her friends come for the wedding, she introduces him as Jordan to them.
In between all these wedding preparations, she falls for JJ. However, she gets married to Jai and off she goes to Prague. But before leaving, she invites JJ saying – pehle main jaati hoon, baad mein tu aa jaana. And poor thing he cant even pronounce Prague. He says Parag.
He goes back to Delhi and his family finds out about his Kashmir trip. They create a drama about it. But life goes on. He graduates and joins his family business. But there’s a robbery and he’s accused of it and thrown out of the house. He carries his guitar and sets off. He goes to Nizamuddin and lives there singing songs at the dargah for sometime.
That’s where Ustad Zameel Khan (Shammi Kapoor) first spots him and sees a great talent in him. After two months he lands up at Khatana’s door seeking shelter. With Khatana’s help, he attends few auditions but nothing seems to be working. Finally when Ustaad Zameel Khan puts in a word to Mr. Dhingra (Piyush Mehra), the owner of a music company saying he feels JJ is very talented and he foresees a very bright and successful future for him, that Dhingra offers JJ a singing contract.
JJ, now Jordan, clicks with Indian public and his first musical album becomes a hit. He then goes on a Europe tour, which also includes a concert in Prague. He meets Heer in Prague, who now seems to have changed completly – the wild and full of life Heer has now turned into ‘living-just-for-the-heck-of-it’ Heer. She’s pale and has lost interest in everything in life and has developed some psychiatric problem as well. But once Jordan comes back into her life, and they start going around doing silly things like before, she gets back to normal.
This time around Jordan falls in love with her and they have a brief affair. Heer is torn between her husband who she’s guilty of cheating and Jordan who she finds totally irresistible. After Jordan’s concert in Prague, they sort of break up, as she finally makes up her mind to go back to her husband against Jordan’s will and they have a very bitter farewell. But Jordan cannot bring himself to leave the city on such a bitter note, so he sneaks into Jai’s house to meet Heer in the middle of the night, triggering the alarms and waking up everybody, unaware of the security system. He’s arrested for trespassing and unable to handle the stress and emotional turbulence Heer collapses. She’s later diagonised with a form of bone marrow cancer and is sent back to her parents in Kashmir.
Jordan’s brought back to India and put in prison. Amidst all this negative publicity, which Dhingra himself encourages, he decides to release Jordan’s next album which becomes an instant hit.
He’s released from prison. Inspite of all the negative publicity and the bad-guy image, he still manages to become very famous and is highly sought after. He continues doing concerts but he’s a changed man now, not the same old JJ who used to live for music and could die for music. He has terrible mood swings, throws tantrums and gets into fights at the drop of a hat, is forever angry and frustrated. He has all that he has ever dreamt of – he’s a rockstar now and is famous and popular but he’s not happy. It’s Sheena (Aditi Rao Hydari), a reporter whose major assignment has been to cover the journey of JJ to Jordan, who finally spells it out for him that he has everything he’s ever wanted in life but he doesnt have Heer with him. And it’s her absence in his life that’s left him hurt, burning with jealousy and feeling incomplete.
During one of his concerts, he meets Mandy (Heer’s sister) who informs him that Heer is suffering from terminal disease and is dying. He leaves all his assignments and rushes to Kashmir. Her parents are furious when they see him after all that happened in Prague but when they realize that Heer’s condition has started improving after his arrival, they kind of accept him. His contracts, assignments, concerts again become secondary in his life. He is fully focussed on Heer once again. That’s when Khatana arrives and tells him there
are serious charges against him for breaking contracts. Khatana and Heer finally convince him to complete his scheduled concerts. Heer even accompanies him for one of them where journalists and reporters accuse him of breaking Heer’s marriage, for stealing away somebody else’s wife and he loses his temper again and ends up creating a scene.
Heer’s condition begins deteriorating again and she goes into coma. He’s accused of almost killing Heer and he turns even more bitter. The movie abruptly ends when he sees Heer walk up to him during one of his concerts where he’s singing Nadaan parinde.
First half was very entertaining and enjoyable but somehow I failed to fathom the complexity of the second half. I ended up asking myself -‘was that really necessary’, in quite a lot of places. The way this movie was promoted, I guess I had too much of expectations from it. The tagline of the movie that said one person has the capability of making you and of destructing you didnt really fit in. The script didnt have that intensity to live up to the tagline, at least for me.
If you go and put your hand in the fire, knowing that you’ll get burnt, you cannot possibly blame and hate the world because you knowingly burnt yourself. I found all that anger and hatred in the second half kind of funny. The only reason JJ proposes to Heer initially is because he wants to get his heart broken so that he could become famous not because he actually was in love with her. Even later, when they subsequently becomes friends, she starts nurturing feelings for him but he’s not even sad or hurt when she gets married and goes (May be he’s in love with her but doesn’t realize it then. But she’s already married and gone, so what even if he realizes it now?).
And then after a year or more perhaps (because in the meantime, he finishes his studies, joins family business, gets thrown out of the house, spends time in dargah and finally comes back to Khatana, with whose help he becomes a singer) suddenly when he realizes that he’s not going to be the part of that Europe Tour, which includes a concert in Prague he goes hyper and becomes ready to go to any extent, to sign any contract, any bond just to be able to be a part of it. He has a desperate urge to see her, out of nowhere, just like that all of a sudden. He falls in love and has an affair with her in Prague, both of them fully aware of the fact that she’s already married to somebody else. And then when he realizes that he cannot have her forever, he condemns the whole world, starts neglecting his career, and turns into a rebel. It’s not even the case of her betraying him. All this didnt make much sense to me. May be if you look at it from a guy’s perspective it would make more sense, might have something to do with male ego. But for me, half of the hatred and anger in the second half looked forced.
Inspite of all this, I thought Ranbir was flawless in his performance. He was perfect as simpleton and silly Janardhan and rebellious Jordan. It was his movie all through, he was totally terrific!
Nargis was an eye candy, looked pretty and shared a good chemistry with Ranbir but her dialogue delivery could have been better. And if she really wants to make a place in bollywood, then I think she should start working on her Hindi.
All the supporting actors were really great –
Kumud Mishra as Mr. Khatana was superb as JJ’s support system, who stood by his side till the end – during good times and bad times. Though he failed to comprehend JJ’s bheaviour half the time, he was always there when needed.
Aditi Rao Hydari makes her presence felt with her powerpacked performance as Sheena, in the small role that she has got.
Piyush Mehra was awesome in the role of an arrogant and cunning owner of a music company.
Moufid Aziz as Jai hardly had anything much to do but was pleasant to look at and portrayed his role very well. One of those few onscreen husbands who dont get hyper on learning that his wife’s been cheating on him.
Shernaz Patel and Mandy (dont know what her real name is) were great too as Heer’s mother and sister.
And coming to Shammi Kapoor…he lit up the screen with his presence. Wish he had a little longer presence. He had a very short role, though an important one. It’s because of him that the music company takes up JJ and turns him into a rockstar. The only time my eyes turned moist while watching this movie was when he appeared on the screen for the first time, at dargah. I was filled with mixed emotions – sad that he’s no longer with us and happy at the same time that we at least get to see him on screen even now. May his soul rest in peace.
It’s a very well directed and beautifully shot film. Imtiaz Ali is a a wonderful director. Though I wouldnt call this his best film ( I still like Socha Na Tha and Jab We Met more), it’s still worth a watch. I didnt find the music very appealing though, not my interpretation of music for a movie named Rockstar. Musically speaking, it has great songs, with deep lyrics and fabulous music, but I wish there was at least one or two lively and peppy numbers. May be it’s also because I had not heard the songs before, they were not at all familar to me. Over all, I would say it’s a well made movie and I did enjoy watching it. It’s for the first time in my life that I went to a theater all alone and watched a movie, and that too in a totally new place. So it was a different experience altogether.
(Since, I had watched the movie in theater, all the screencaps have been taken from youtube.)