Reviewing the Reviews: Rockstar

14 Nov,2011


Key Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri

Written and Directed By: Imtiaz Ali

Produced By: Ronnie Screwvala, Dhillin Mehta


Imtiaz Ali whose Jab We Met got him a great fan following, had Love Aaj Kal in between and now Rockstar, which has united critics and the general public in their adoration for Ranbir Kapoor, who is a star actor and superstar material; poor Nargis Fakhri came in for an equal amount of battering.

The film itself got madly mixed reviews with rating from one to four stars that must have confused the reading public.

Aniruddha Guha of DNA loved it. “For about 15 minutes in Rockstar, the narrative tends to resort to ‘Bollywoodism’; true love having the power to cure a terminal illness (almost), for example, doesn’t exactly fit with what the rest of the film has to say. Yet, Imtiaz makes it work somehow, interweaving the fantastical romantic part of the film with the more gritty, dark bits deftly.”

Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama, is left cold, “Alas! Rockstar is a sumptuously shot movie that is disjointed on script level. The problem with Rockstar is that it starts off most impressively, has some terrific moments in between, but the writing gets so erratic and incoherent as it heads towards the conclusion that you wonder, am I really watching an Imtiaz Ali film?” Strange coming from one who is otherwise generous with praise.

Saibal Chatterjee, observes, “The film, nearly three hours long, traverses long physical distances – from Delhi to Kashmir and from there to Prague and then back again to Delhi as JJ follows his lady love (who gets married quickly enough and settles down to drab matrimony in faraway Czech Republic to make matters difficult) halfway around the world, singing and dancing his woes away. But despite all the frenetic movement in space that Rockstar offers, the film really goes nowehere. It feels strangely static.” Which is one of its major problems.

Shubha Shetty Saha of Mid-day pins down another problem area, “The film that is supposed to be following the journey of a nobody later turning into an insanely famous musician, leaves you uninvolved as many milestones in that journey have been left out. One day, Jordan is in Pitampura trying to regale a few bystanders on the street, a few months later, he is this huge phenomenon running away from the paparazzi.”

Sumit Bhattacharya of found it in the Devdas mould. “Don’t let the title fool you. This movie is more an old-school Bollywood love story than the advent of heavy metal in Hindi cinema. Jordan is more like Devdas than his idol Jim Morrison….On the surface, the film is about a guitar-toting dimwit transforming into an angry ‘rock star’, an expression that can perhaps give ‘awesome’ a run for being the most misused term in the English language …But this film is devoid of any insight into an artiste’s anguish, try as it might by quoting Jalaluddin Rumi.”

Mayank Shekhar gives it three stars but a tepid review. “From its start, to the way it progresses, you can tell, the film’s been through various stages of editing and several second thoughts. Sometimes the patchiness shows. It’s a stretch. Anything that’s 18 reels long (close to three hours) in a flickering world of low attention spans would be. Something fizzles out towards the end. You still don’t begrudge a movie that’s been this engaging, entertaining thus far.”

Komal Nahata is critical of the extra-marital affair of the heroine which is without justification, and says, “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.”

Anuj Kumar of The Hindu is also unimpressed. “A film works when the pain experienced by the characters on screen permeates into the darkness of the theatre. No such luck here. After an explosive opening, you become restless for lack of ingenuity on the part of the writer-director even when he has got the ingredients to turn it into a never-before experience. A. R. Rahman’s soulful tunes, Anil Mehta’s breathtaking camerawork and a malleable lead actor, but still it remains a glazed canvas. It has a lot to do with inappropriate casting and an overtly indulgent director, who seem to have started with the idea of making a global blockbuster with Ranbir Kapoor and then started work on the content.”

Rajeev Masand of IBNlive also slams the script. “The film’s chief lapses are its meandering script and its less than impressive leading lady both of which cost the film dearly… “

Sanjukta Sharma of Livemint notes, “The second half is a mess, as it travels picturesquely but cluelessly from Kashmir to Prague in search of ideas. And it goes on for much too long, as we wait for something better to happen. Nothing of the sort does. Whatever happened to Imtiaz’s sure-footedness which made ‘Jab We Met’ such a breeze ? Shakiness was evident in his next ‘Love Aaj Kal’. Here, he seems to have very little idea of how to get his lovers to smoulder despite the liplocks : most of the romance feels constructed, and contrived.

Kunal Guha one of the first to review it on Yahoo with a brutal one star, writes, “Watching ‘Rockstar’ once is like watching it many times over, thanks to the repeated montages that sporadically recap the film. If you thought being stabbed once was bad, here’s what a knife set can do. The film drives home an unscientific hypothesis that people who’ve endured sufferings/ heart break/ loose motions etc will reach their creative best. By this logic, each person in the audience will be blessed with superhuman creativity as they step out after watching ‘Rockstar’.”

Nikhat Kazmi, of the Times of India is predictably soft. “The fact that this romance unfolds on screen in the form of an explosive musical, capturing JJ’s transmutation into Jordan, the edgy artist, makes the film an absolutely engaging affair.”

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