Rock On Hindi Movie
I confess I am not a rock music aficionado. And I guess I am too young and with too little experience to completely identify with the theme of dreams and aspirations crushed by the cruelty of fate and life. I am perhaps still building my dreams, and maybe that's why I didn't respond as emotionally to Rock On as many others have.
For Rock On is really not so much about music, as it is about following your passion and living your dreams. It is about the regret, disappointment and frustration that inevitably haunt a life fueled by compromise, but as rocker-turned-investment-banker Aditya Shroff (Farhan Akhtar) says in the film- 'Compromise kaun nahi karta?'
The first half of Rock On is too glum for its own good, and having established Aditya and Co. as tortured, unhappy souls, one wishes that the screenplay writers Abhishek Kapoor and Pubali Choudhary spent more time and energy establishing the friendship and camaraderie among the band, and their past journey till when they fall apart. The fun, madness and humour are almost completely missing, and that's where Rock On fails to do a Dil Chahta Hai.
The male bonding just doesn't come across strongly enough, and the film turns soggy, even boring- I mean come on, the rock band in this movie is so unbelievably scrubbed clean, it is not funny- and in that context it is only perhaps fitting that they sing songs with embarrassingly nursery rhyme lyrics that go- 'Aasmaan hai neela kyon, Paani geela geela kyon, Gol kyon hai zameen' and have a name like Magik.
So while there are two instances of some cool great tongue-in-cheek humour- including that hilarious scene where the band is forced to do a dandiya gig to raise money, and another one that takes a dig at the corny and poisonous-sounding lyrics that feature in songs by young rock bands- the film struggles to find its feet and rhythm, uncomfortably shuttling between past and present.
That said, the second half, while equally predictable works way better than the first, and it's really a pity because provided a more solid foundation earlier, it could have worked wonders. The feeling of reminiscence and nostalgia doesn't quite reach our nostrils in the latter part of the film simply because the film doesn't give us enough to reminisce about in the former. Still, some cliches (and-spoiler alert- an unforgivably soppy and unnecessary brain tumour angle) apart, the nicely understated humour, emotional moments and most importantly, the performances keep you hooked on till the neatly drawn and fairly rousing end.
Farhan Akhtar may not exactly be a great singer (and while he doesn't sound awful, I do hope he restricts any future singing to the shower), he impresses with a confident and mature debut performance. Prachi Desai also scores in her big-screen debut, and she is delicate and vulnerable without turning into saccharine. Arjun Rampal (looking every inch a rock star) and Luke Kenny are nicely restrained, while Purab Kohli is his usual endearing and affable self, adding that dose of cheer when the film needs it the most. But the standout here is clearly Shahana Goswami, who despite having a brief role manages to more than make her presence felt, every glance of hers effectively portraying the pain and angst of a woman who sacrifices her own dreams for her family's sake, forced to be harshly pragmatic, take charge and wear the pants in the house as her husband (Rampal) struggles with his failed idealism.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music while decent could have been way better, and the love ballads work way better than the other tracks which lack that quality to lift us off our feet. What really deserves applause is Jason West's superb photography that is as stylish and textured as it is beautifully evocative.
Rock On is a lovely, almost fable-like story that uses music as a metaphor for life and all we hold dear in it, and would probably be loved by many viewers for various personal reasons- and I can completely understand why- because when a film's story touches that chord deep within, the heart takes over the head and the film transcends its cinematic artifice.
For someone like me, however- Rock On is, after all, another movie and there is no denying that the cinematic potential contained within the story is far from exploited to its fullest. Rock On takes way too long to take off, and when it finally does, the sheer adrenalin rush we deserved from this film is missing, and hence, while Abhishek Kapoor's second film is a laudable effort which often surprises you with its subtle layering, it does fall short, and that makes me feel sad- for this could truly have been Magik.