In his quest to become the icon of a generation, the bold and awkward college student, Janardhan Jakhar embarks on a journey facing resistance, friendship, dejection and love. Such a metamorphosis takes him from the samosa 'hangout' joint on Delhi's streets to the international stage upon which he passionately performs songs of love, independence, defiance and public outcry for his rights as Jordan.
As a young, reckless rockstar, he makes foolhardy decisions, behaves erratic and immature.
Yet, when he holds the guitar, his music resonates deeper into his heart and this journey through realizing pain is the premise of the movie. Rockstar's length, mostly unnecessary in its numerous songs and scenic escapades is Imtiaz Ali's indulgence in story-telling where he is relentless. Adroitly crafted to capture every aesthetic element, Rockstar has its beautiful face in Nargis Fakhri, soul in Rahman's music and heart in Ranbir Kapoor's mature acting.
Janardhan's early days with a guitar in hand did not start off too well. He needed inspiration and he was advised to find that in love's parting gift of pain. Foolishly, he tried to convince the college sensation Heer (Nargis Fakhri) who wasn't too happy with his approach. However, the two end up being friends as they find a common ground in culture-defying thrills and youthful mischief. After her marriage to a 3rd party in Prague, newly Christened Jordan is left with his goals of becoming a Rockstar. Facing resistance and abandonment from his family, Jordan lives in the confines of the Hazrat Nizammudin Dargah and joins the sufi singers as well as Hindu bhajans till one day, being fed up, he arrives at Khatana bhai's (Kumud Mishra) home. Almost as an agent, Khatana brings Jordan a break-through with Dhingra-owned Platinum Records to sing in an album which launches him to stardom.
With a lot of cajoling, Dhingra lets Jordan join the company's tour of Europe in Prague where he meets Heer and they resume their fun-filled adventures based on her hit-list of things-to-do. An intimate moment between the two spurs the tension in Heer and yet, they continue to meet through Jordan's continuing tour till an awkward moment arises when he breaches her home's security to say his good-bye. For his insolence, Heer rants at him and then he is incarcerated upon his arrival in India.
Dhingra takes advantage of all the negative publicity that arose upon Jordan's return with a new album and series of concerts. Thus, in the wake of restraint, a rebel is born in the form of a Rockstar.
Even though the film's music failed to generate a buzz, it finds listeners when it blends into the story-line to beautifully crafted moments that express the emotions. This impact is best experienced in Jordan's dejected, angry and commanding Saadda Haq. In what turns out to be the most powerful song that translates a character's emotions into music, Saadda Haq is a rebel's theme. AR Rahman, Mohit Chauhan and lyricist Irshad Kamil produce this foot-tapping, fist clenching rock anthem that would resonate with many of the youth.
Naadan Parindey by Rahman has the longing for freedom and sanctuary whereas Aur ho reverberates the pain and helplessness in the end. Jo bhi main brings out Jordan's amateurish sentiments on his path to creativity. While the other songs provide some meaning to each scenario, they add up lengthy minutes to the film's duration, thus subsiding the overall impact.
On top of that, Rockstar is a melancholic movie. After his return to India, Jordan finds out about Heer's terminal illness and while he spends quality time with her, improving her condition, the inevitability is always looming. Add to that, Jordan's reckless endeavors that doesn't find favor with anyone. His carelessness and lack of focus dampen his ambitions. It's when he gets on stage that the magic occurs but that's doesn't happen too often.
In the acting department, Ranbir Kapoor has driven the movie. Portraying Jordan's immaturity, naivety and rebellious nature, Kapoor brings sincerity to his performance that was required by Imtiaz Ali's comprehensive characterization. He also pulls off the Rockstar persona very well and his defining moment would be Saadda Haq (Rakh saala!). Nargis Fakhri reminds us of Katrina's early days. Dialogue delivery is amiss but her sheer beauty is appalling in both delicate and intense scenes. Her angelic smile overcomes every sadness and warms every heart. Piyush Mishra as Dhingra is so seriously funny! He is a gifted theater actor of whom we need to see more of. Kumud Mishra plays a strong supporting role, correcting Jordan's foolhardiness and re-aligning him to his career which proves quite challenging but he portrays that with realism. Always a delight to watch the Late Shammi Kapoor even if it is for a total of 2 minutes. His calmness and charm have always been unique in his latter years and he commands the screen when he is present.
Imtiaz Ali has been among the leading directors of contemporary Indian Cinema and with Rockstar, he showcases his talent in detailed writing, characterization and visualization. The finesse in his work is in the details and he takes you through a lot to notice all of it. The length of the film owing to these details is its major folly.
Rockstar may not live up to expectations if there were big ones. Unlike 'Rock On', it won't guide you to living life to the fullest nor will it show you any dark side to the business. All it does is portray the creation of music through the experience of pain. That very journey is what Jordan undertook and rose to unprecedented levels.
Perhaps, even as a film, Rockstar will remain in the field that is beyond the ideas of right and wrong.
- 7.778 on a scale of 1-10.