Saturday, November 19, 2011

Imtiaz Ali's 'Rockstar' an indulgence after 'Love Aaj Kal

The double-helix narrative of 'Love Aaj Kal' (2009) with credible performances by Rishi Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, with some fine cinematography had something fresh and intelligent about it was a directorial triumph for Imtiaz Ali. 'Rockstar' is an excess which always comes after a good effort which is the case with Ali. In 'Rockstar' he tries to portray romantic love in the Laila-Majnu mode, which goes beyond the social norms. There is something obsessive about it. Ali tells this part of the story well enough with some verve as well.

What goes wrong with the film is the part showing 'Jordan' played by Ranbir Kapoor. The music of the great A.R.Rahman is simply forgettable. The lovely qawwali of the Nizamuddin dargah group is spoiled by the lyrics of one Kamil and the music of Rahman. Compare this with Rahman's lovely qawwali at the Moinuddin Chishti dargah in 'Jodha Akbar'which was so captivating. 'Rockstar' music is the film's Achilles Heel. It kills the film more than the weak story concerning the hero as the great pop singer modelled on Jim Morrison, the counter-culture icon. Ranbir Kapoor tries to hold this part of the role as well as he could but it does not work. The hurt lover, the mourning lover turned protestor on behalf of human rights and environment is both inane and pretentious. It is almost laughable. Both director Ali and actor Kapoor try to keep it on an even keel but it does not work.

Nargis Fakhri has the kind of face that suits a tragic heroine though critics are sure to fault her for her apparently bad acting. What the critics mean is that she is still raw in this department. Her voice has been dubbed. But she infuses the role with a certain conviction that is born of her brittle personality and vulnerable beauty. These things make her lovable in spite of her histrionic imperfections.

The role of 'Jordan'the hero is in many ways a fake one, especially the Rockstar bit.

There is a strange ambiguity about the romance. It is purely physical and there is a certain purity to it. Nargis Fakhry is able to lend purity to the relationship because of her crystalline physical features. Ranbir Kapoor just fails to take it to the level of physical purity that Nargis Fakhri manages to do.

This film can be compared to Leela Bansali's 'Sanwariya' but 'Rockstar' lacks the poetry of 'Sanwariya' (2007). The other film that comes to mind is Franco Zeffirelli's √Čndless Love'starring Brooke Shields

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