Disclaimer: No, I have NOT been paid by Farhan Akhtar and co to write this review.
Short of panting, dropping to the floor and writhing about in an physical fit of sorts, I'd done absolutely everything I could in anticipation of Rock On!!
I'd gone around diagnosing the film's expected fare at the big B-O; a premortem, if you will. I'd irritated my friends to the extent that the ones who'd been looking forward to the film developed a rather extreme hatred towards it. I'd taken it upon myself to advertise the film wherever I went, hosting protracted discussions on the film and why it'll be the biggest hit in years.
So you can imagine when I finally went to watch the film this Saturday, I was nearly frothing at the mouth. Clutching my popcorn and Pepsi in a death-grip, I entered the hall.....though not my Chakravyuh, I felt my ultimate test had begun.
Rock On's!! about "Magik" (very apt), a successful Indian rock group that, at the height of its popularity, is forced to disband. Years later, Fate deals them another hand and this time they know exactly how to play their cards right. It's a simple, non-convoluted story and you totally know how it's gonna end. But it's in the treatment that Rock On!! scores its biggest victory.
The opening scene of Rock On!! will just leave you begging for more.....that is, if you're a TOTAL music addict (as the Joker would say: "Like me!"). If Rock rocks your world and you count your breaths to the beat of Gods like Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, The Who and (the Lords of 'em all) Pink Floyd, then Rock On!!'ll be the ultimate high; a "trip" that'll last you for a long, long time after the movie.
Back to Rock On!! now.
Socha Hai, that clever, introspective and insanely wittily written piece, kickstarts the movie. To see "Magik" on stage, creating stupendous magic, is one of many, many highlights of the film. What's so endearing and so likeable are the genuine smiles on the four band members: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny. You can tell that they're having the time of their lives jamming on stage, pleasing that crowd, getting them to sway to their tunes. Yes, that's a LIVE performance you see in front of you! (Prior to the film's release, Magik went on an all-India tour, performing in Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and a few other cities....all the songs you see Magik perform on stage are actual versions.....)
The first half of the film, admittedly, is a lil' drab. It's not in keeping with the general pace and mood of the film and will most definitely make you wonder whether Abhishek Kapoor (the director, of "Aryan" in-fame) didn't really know how to begin the film. Even then, however, you get a decent glimpse at how the lives of Aditya (Farhan), Jo (Arjun), Killer Drummer/KD (Purab) and Rob (Luke) have changed, post-Magik. And you relate.
Aditya's become an extremely successful investment banker. He's lost his passion for life and he's forgotten how to smile and he's the most disillusioned and crabby one of 'em all. He's got an immensely loving wife, Saakshi (Prachi Desai--more about her later), who's desperate to make him smile, desperate to become a part of his life.
Jo's started teaching lil' children how to strum the guitar, including his own son, Andrew/Andy. He's constantly being nagged by his wife, Debbie (Shahana Goswami--I'll reserve my comments for now), to get a job.
KD (reluctantly) assists his father who has absolutely no appreciation for his kid.
And Rob? Haha, well Rob's tuning it up for none other than Anu Malik :-D That part's too good.
Miscellaneous flashbacks, a birthday, confrontations, a few cuppas of tea and an interval later, you see Magik reunite, albeit with a twist. And what a wild ride it is, thereon.
This review won't be complete without a quick music review, as well. Bear with me!
I won't give any more than this away: the music simply ROCKS!!! It's some of the best compositions you've heard in a long time. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy tweak it up with some superbly crafted tunes; watch for the killer guitar solos in most of the songs, they'll make your eyes roll inwards and dance. Same goes for the insane, maddening, kickass drumming.
The best tracks? All of 'em! Seriously, the way the music's been used in the film should be a lesson to all of those dance-around-trees maestros we've applauded for so long.
Sinbad the Sailor is possibly the most effective piece of music in years. If you don't know what that means, you will when you watch the movie. It's "effective". Period.
Pichle Saat Dinon Mein's got wonderful, wonderful lyrics. The music's awesome and the words're superb. It's one of the most enjoyable tracks in the film.
I loved the three slow-ish numbers: Tum Toh Ho, Tumhari Meri Baatein and Phir Dekhiye. They're pictured beautifully, specially the latter two and it doesn't hurt that they're very melodious, as well.
Perhaps the BEST Hindi song I've heard has GOT to be the title track: Rock On. I won't go further. Just hear it and live your life in those three and a half minutes. It's perfect.
The acting. My second favourite part.
I'm one of the few who genuinely does not like Arjun Rampal (in other words, I'm a guy and not a swooning girl). However, Rampal, as Joe Mascarenhas, the lead guitarist of Magik, delivers a truly inspired performance. It's without a doubt his BEST role till date and he's gone the whole hog--starting with his rock star look (man, that hair...yep, now I've got no qualms sounding like a swooning chick) and ending with the restrained dialogue delivery, peppered with just the right amount of pain. The only thing I didn't really like, despite the fact that it goes in keeping with the feel of the film, was his Texas Oil-magnate type moustache. It takes away from his character. Still, it was an experiment and I guess it shows that the makers've got some killer guts.
Luke Kenny as Rob, the electro-percussionist/light technician of the band, fits his role to the T. He might not be the perfect actor, but coupled with his fair, sophisticated, good-boy looks, he, too, manages to impress you very, very much. I loved the way he carried off his nearly-bald look.
Oh man, Purab Kohli, Sir, you are outstanding. Please stand up, take a bow and revel in the adulation you're gonna receive. You convince par-excellence of your drumming capabilities, your comic timing is marvellous, your dialogue delivery is nigh-perfect and both your looks in the film suit you so damned well; it's obvious that your look's been worked upon the most. Simply too good.
Farhan Akhtar. I reserved him for the end coz I've got special words for the man. Being an unabashed FA fan (ever since Dil Chahata Hai--it didn't even diminish after how he painfully murdered Don), I naturally will sound as if I'm biased but I couldn't care less--I know for a fact that what I'm gonna say now will be seconded by everybody who watches the film, regardless of the fact that they like the film or not.
His is the most important role and he shoulders the responsibility with such elan that you get a nagging suspicion that he's "been there, done that" many times over. How his character, the perfect personification of a pendulum, swings back and forth and how he realizes his ultimate dream is a treat to watch. This man is to watch out for coz he can give any of the lead actors a very tough run for their money: he's got a lean, mean physique, he's got the looks and he's got a very different voice which really suits him (a "rasp"-berry, if ever there was one :-D).
I'm now going to praise Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami to the skies. Again, bear with me!
Prachi Desai, as Saaskshi, Aditya's loving wife is really, really amazing. She delivers a raw performance which only helps accentuate the porous edges that she lends to her character. She's fragile, wants to be accepted and how she does it is something to see. To begin with, you can see her nervousness displayed on screen, Rock On!! being her first movie, but as the film progresses, she settles into her role. It's nice to see that the eye-candy's finally being used as a major character, not as a showpiece. Hopefully, this film'll set a few trends.
Shahana Goswami is OUTSTANDING, AWESOME, ELECTRIFYING. She's the most underrated actress I've seen. Back off, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and the likes--you don't stand a chance against Shahana. She's arrived and with a MAJOR bang. Watch out for her, she's gonna rule this industry soon.
This might come as a shock, but I'm gonna go with 4/5 for Rock On!! I didn't have that much time (or space) to mention this before, but there're a few cliches in the film that take away from its overall refreshing experience. And there's the issue of the length, as well. Well over two hours long, some crisp editing was required. Still, 4 isn't all that bad, eh?
Rock On!! guys, you deserve it like crazy :-D