Rockstar – A Review With a Difference!

Jan 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Movie Review

Warning- Contains spoilers, and recommended for those who have seen the film (at least once).

The intellectual is always showing off,
the lover is always getting lost.
The intellectual runs away.
afraid of drowning;
the whole business of love
is to drown in the sea.
Intellectuals plan their repose;
lovers are ashamed to rest.
The lover is always alone.
even surrounded by people;
like water and oil, he remains apart.
The man who goes to the trouble
of giving advice to a lover
get nothing. He’s mocked by passion.
Love is like musk. It attracts attention.
Love is a tree, and the lovers are its shade.


Khatara bhai, mujhe ye sab kuch nahin chahiye..mujhe nahin banna hai bada..mere paas kuch nahin hai iske ilava..mera dil nahin tutna chahiye..’


After weeks and weeks of postponing, controlling, and denying, finally, I write on “Rockstar”, my favorite film of the year 2011. I do it with a simple hope, that maybe, hopefully, with this little, pointless, insignificant post, the movie will leave me, and somehow, settle, somewhere deep, very deep, inside me, as a part of me, for a long, long time to come. I was afraid that somehow my words will in some strange way, put a measurable emotion or an expressible meaning to what I feel and want to say about Rockstar, which is exactly opposite to what the film succeeded in doing with me.

In a scene in the end credits of the film, after the credits are almost over, the poem of Rumi which was narrated in the beginning of the film is repeated again-

Yahaan se bohot dur, galat aur sahi ke paar, ek maidaan hai, main wahaan milunga tujhe.’

While the poem is repeated, a shot from the scene right before the interval is repeated, of Jordan and Heer in an open field holding hands, just before they kiss. This kiss, the moment of intimacy, of a silent never ending infinitium, which drew the lines of right and wrong based on not what they were or wanted, but what those things rigidly are meant to be, in the man-made society we live in, that neither they, nor their world, nor their past neither their future, would ever remain the same. It’s not hard to figure out the parallel, which consciously or subconsciously comes out from the poem and the scene and what is ultimately the soul of the film. After that moment they shared, they were never meant to be together, what they had was too powerful to break, but too divine to last. What remained at the end was the open field, and the memory of that moment, when there was no right and wrong, only Heer and Jordan. From there on, it was always too late, as Jordan says.

For me, it’s interesting, I have written more drafts of this post, then I did of my last short film. That is till I realized, that a film like this, does not deserve a post, like any other, which is an impersonal spoon feeding talking majorly about the story from a distance. So I decided not to do that, I just will scream what I felt, and continue to feel, hoping that whoever reads this, would have seen the movie atleast once, and if not, will in the most minutest way, just feel my love for the film, if nothing else.

The film is about Jordan, and his life journey, but after watching the film half a dozen times, I ask myself, who is Jordan? Maybe he is someone who right from his friends in college, to his family, to his agent, to the music company head, was very often a spectator to these people using him, telling him what to do, making a scapegoat of him, when all he knew was that he loved music and wanted to be a ‘Shhtar’. What he did not know is that this love, along with the love for Heer will ignite a passion in him which will consume him up and chew him out. Ironically, in a film so musical, there is almost no music in the beginning of the film. As Jordan mumbles and fumbles in college competitions and faces rejections, there is silence. That’s maybe because then the guitar was only part of his body, not his soul. That he may have words but did not understand their meaning. Maybe a kid, who just wants to go home, a home that does not exist anymore.

As he meets Heer, he begins to discovers himself and life. They have this inexplicable connection with almost nothing in common except a zest for living, and ‘living’ through Heer, music starts taking over his emotions and feelings. Whether its drinking ‘desi daru’ and getting drunk, or passing the snow clad mountains on that bike just before Heer gets married, they share something which is not talked about, cannot be talked about, because even after she is married, no matter where they are and what happens to them, the warmth they shared in the coldness of those mountains always remains their own, something nobody can take away from them. Just before she gets married there is a scene where nothing is said, but everything is felt. When Heer, dressed as a bride, about to marry someone else, looks in his eyes, but says nothing  – the mysteries of life are not that are spoken, but those that are felt.

After she is married and gone, his life goes on, but a vacuum always remains. He is banished by the family which was bound to happen as he was always a ‘misfit’, and as he lives in a durgah for months he discovers music in his veins. Heer is somewhere in those veins too, and this is seen in the sparkle in his eyes when he gets a chance to go to Prague where she is. By now, they have lived life a bit more, grown up a bit, but also realized that what they had felt in those mountains has only got stronger, and it’s too special to let go, but there is a difference between realizing and accepting.

When they meet in prague, they pick up from where they had left, and find that what they have is ‘something else’. But no matter what they feel, they are what they are, and he can never express what he wants. She is bound in a soulless marriage, and they part ways again, only to meet years later to never part again. Their confusion and conflicts, which are never really thrown in the face or spoken of, are just referred to subtly under that white sheet, which is and always will be their world. A world where the lines of realizing and accepting merge, and they can be one.

Why, in that beautiful scene in prague, when Jordan and heer suddenly wake up early morning, in the song “AUR HO”, and start running towards her home as she is late, when she stops, midway suddenly, and turns to look back at him, and he runs towards her, in that beautiful long shot, does Imtiaz ali, cut it before they hug, and instead just shows him running towards her? Why do they never propose each other, which is common in most of his film characters? What does she mean, when she says ‘HAAN’, in that bridal dress, just before she is about to get married, looking straight into Jordan’s eyes? Why does he go to Kashmir, when they don’t even know what they have? Who are those ‘PARINDEY’, which Jordan talks about on stage? Why, when he has everything he ever wanted, does he stand on stage, and blankly remembers the time when he was nothing and was sitting outside a temple? Why when he meets her after 2 years, in as she lies half dead and slowly opens her eyes, does Imtiaz choose to show the light and breeze coming from the window, through her? It’s these choices, which Imtiaz ali, and his characters make, these confusions, these flaws, which are more real to life, then any amount of logic and clarity.

Yes, Ranbir has great screen presence and more so, seems to have great trust in his director and has an understanding of cinema, which gives him the confidence to have a blank face in so many scenes (for example, with his college friends in the start, where he is often just a viewer, or at the end in the climax bed scene, where he trusts that he does not need to do anything more then be in the moment, silently, just feel, and the movie will do the rest). Yes, also AR Rehman is brilliant and no words will come close to unearthing his brilliance. Nargis did grow on me over repeated screenings of the film and has a vulnerability and honesty which shines. Special mention for lyrics by Irshad Kamil, who turns up with his best work yet quite easily.

But there is only 1 rockstar, in the film, and maybe in the film industry today, which is obviously Mr. Imtiaz ali. Music from a musician may not come out of how he may have lived his life, but maybe how he perceives it, how he remembers it. The non linear structure besides keeping up the mystery element, in subtle ways highlights how his music was in that sense structured. And that is what he does so brilliantly.

If someday, I get to meet Imtiaz, I would like to ask him, ‘Why after establishing the fact that we are looking at her death from his point of view and feeling his pain in the last stage show, when she comes on stage did he use a woman’s voice, and in a way, her view with the line ‘Tum ko paa hi liya’?

There are many questions like these, and everyone whom I ask this question , including me, has a take on it, and I would like to thank you sir, if you ever read this, to give us a chance to use our heart and minds for a Hindi film after long.

For years and years, in a conventional hindi film, when a couple break off, the characters go right in the dump, and it comes out as lamely as it sounds. Where Imtiaz defies convention, like in Jab we met when Geet goes off to Anshuman at the end of first half, and Aditya comes back to Mumbai, inspite of knowing that the love of his life is with someone else, Aditya uses the memories of her, to inspire himself, and uses it positively.

Memories seem to be a common factor in almost all of Imtiaz Ali’s films. Memory of those few moments, spent by characters, which stays deep inside them, and becomes a part of them forever. It’s these moments and what he brings out through them, which bring out the beauty in his films, whether its Manali (JWM), or Delhi, London(LAK), or Kashmir(Rockstar). Thank you Mr Ali, for bringing love back to Indian screens again, bringing beauty again, and through Rockstar, passion again(the scene when he goes to kiss her from the stage, has to be the most passionate moment on Indian screens in the longest time).

For me, the soul of the movie is the song ‘Jo bhi main kehna chahun, barbaad kare, alfaaz mere’ which highlights so many of Jordan’s life situations, arising out of choice or otherwise. And that is what Ali does so magnificently to tell the story. For him songs are a means of expressing, not relieving. He has always done that.

In a scene, when Heer goes into coma, and he comes out of the hospital, and the whole crowd/media are standing and pounce on him, there is a shot when a police guy slaps Jordan, and he attacks him back, the people surrounding them, the viewers, the media, are all getting entertained, either laughing or staring, as this one man dares to feel, to express -that one shot tells more then entire films in India manage to do. Jordan always wanted to be a ROCKSTAR, and he does get everything what he wanted, but loses everything else. Maybe Jordan will go on living, will keep on breathing, his life will go on, what will remain is that void, that guilt, forever, and after.

Today, after many days of controlling, I will go and watch ROCKSTAR again, for the 7th time, and probably the last time on the big screen, in the final remaining show on the city. One of the things I had heard, when I left my job, and jumped to filmmaking was that one of the reasons a movie can score over other ‘Art’ forms is because it may affect your senses with the greatest impact. I very rarely felt that. Very few movies succeed in touching you. Rockstar did not touch me. It put a hand inside me, grabbed my inside, ripped me apart and splashed it on my face. The interesting thing is, I found beauty in that pain. How many movies can claim to do that? And so, I go to ‘FEEL’, again, and watch ROCKSTAR again.

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  1. Who are the Rockstars in our world?

    On some level, if I’m correct, this film is also about letting an individual just breath the life that he wants to breathe. Jordan, following a scene where he is pulled out from the company of prostitutes, admits himself that often he doesn’t understand why he do things the way he does. Jordan doesn’t understand his own inner mechanisms, let alone the workings, system, rules and constraints of the society.

    But that’s what the film is urging. Why can’t we respect an individual for his individuality? Why must we impose our man-made laws to destroy what is unique of that individual? As long as no one is hurt emotionally or physically, we can’t we offer choice to an individual to opt for their own freedom and peace, rather than engulfing them in traditions of society? It is for this reason that at a point in the story, Heer too screams at Jordan to let her go and back off from her life. The burden of the society weighs heavily upon her too and she knows her individual choice will not be fulfilled in the face of this sane society; after all collective madness is sanity in this world!

    So, a few individuals, sometimes, let that steam inside them burst out without a care for the world. And the world, as always, gets jittery to find a name to categorize them: Rockstars.

    And yeah, your observations and love for the film are evident through this post, buddy!

  2. Wouldnt agree that Imtiaz ali is a rockstar just yet. But kept smiling throughout the review. Ranbir definitely displays the fantastic choice of movies and we cannot imagine Rockstar without Ar Rahman.

    I know you have been controlling yourself for long but next time, if a movie touches you the way this one has, I won”t accept a late review

    Cheers to cinema!

  3. Pratik- Thank u for the comment sir, what u wrote will be discussed more when we meet (rolling up sleeves while saying that) 🙂 though agree with most of what u said..

  4. Rohit- Thank you so much Rohit for commenting.. ya will be more consistent now, surely 🙂

  5. Wouldnt agree that Imtiaz ali is a rockstar just yet. But kept smiling throughout the review. Ranbir definitely displays the fantastic choice of movies and we cannot imagine Rockstar without Ar Rahman.

  6. Love to see one more who felt the same for Rockstar. surprised you didn’t mention the ironical scene where Kathana tells Jordan about the decreasing popularity of him because of his attitude: ‘teri popularity girtie ja rahi hai’ over the bridge and crowd gather around. and the music ‘The Dichotomy of Fame’ sinks in. and suddenly he realize his on life as a Rockstar. beautiful film!

  7. Me too! Im totally engulfed by this review. I, after having watched the film twice, felt It would be sin to event attempt to write a review for this film. What it made me feel was and is too sacred to be put into words. I too can only scream in expression of what this film made me feel. This is the most spiritually invigorating Bollywood film I have seen. How I wish Preity Zinta was the Heer! She would have looked so good with Ranbir and acted well too!

    Im going to save this post forever.. This is the best film-review written!!! Not a review in that sense, but still!

    Thanks a lot lot lot for this wonderful post!

    My favourite scenes in the film are:
    1. when heer says HAAN in that bridal dress. they don’t express what’s going in their minds in words. BUt the viewers can understand!
    2. When Jordan looses himself and dances freely in that DJ Party sequence in the song Firse Udd Chala…

    I got soangry with my parents for not liking the film.

    and i was so angry when the public was all leaving the screen and I was the only one staring at the screen until the last moment of the end-credits..that end-song was tooooooo divine..It was divinity expressed on screen! With this I finally lovveee Ranbir the actor!

  8. THIS IS THE BEST REVIEW OF ROCKSTAR! I too felt the same about the film. It was “Larger than life film”. I just saw it twice in the theater but I saw every minute details which Mr. Ali has portrayed through his characters. From the clothes which Ranbir wears throughout the film speaks a lot about his current situation and the hairstyle too is the same, speaks about his mood. He cut his hair when he met Heer once again when she got divorced and came back to India and so cleaned himself up as he was happy. The guitar strap was adding up things after every concert. The lyrics of every song was something which added up to the character.
    BRILLIANT MOVIE. This movie is always going to remain the one close to my heart.

    @Perez – I too wanted PZ to cast opposite to RK in Rockstar. She would be the *PERFECT* Heer. My parents too did not like the film which made me angry too.
    This film deserves much more than it got. Someday when people realize they have seen is nothing more than a magic and they’ll stop criticizing and just adore the beauty of the film.

  9. @ Sanjana Yea, I wish Preity was cast opposite Ranir. She would look definitely better than Priyanka did in Anjana Anjani. I am wondering which was the movie Preity was offered opposite Ranbir. Was it Ek Main Hu Aur Ek tu, Barfee, Rockstar or Wake Up Sid. Because Preity was indeed offered a film opposite him.

    By the way Rockstar is not a Larger than Life film. It is very much a slice of the life we people do in extraordinary passing of events. In the whole movie I din’t understand the Parindey Ka Jhund parable Ranbir gave.. Do u??

  10. Hey Chintan..awesome analysis on a purely emotional basis man..loved it…a lot of the emotions I felt while watching the movie…the movie didn’t leave me too…always came around in my class, while having food, which jogging in the gym, while sleeping, while doing nothing. Just didn’t leave me…wanted to see the movie many more times, but was worried my classes would get affected if I got any more attached….it is an absolute brilliant movie..kudos to Imtiaz Ali..became an even bigger fan after watching this one..

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