Ever since, I came across the trailers of ‘Rock On’ a month or so back, I was eagerly awaiting for the movie to hit the screens. In fact, the movie had compelled me to reach out to a couple of old college friends and I convinced them to join me on what I assumed would be a journey of nostalgia. The songs from the movie, especially Socha Hain and Picchle Saat Din, only added to the anticipation.
And when the day of reckoning came, I with my friends was completely dumbstruck by what confronted us. 15 minutes into the movie, I had started squirming in the seat; 25 minutes and had stopped counting the flaws, and after another 10-15 minutes was waiting for the agony to end. The movie in fact turned out to be so bad, that my old friends pronounced that they were happier when I was out of touch. My biggest surprise was and still is how everyone got conned by the freak show? The few reviews that I read, if didn’t glorify the movie, didn’t pan it either (which it much deserved).
Rock On is to be honest the most contrived story that I have come across after a long time, precisely after Tashan. There is so little in the movie that the one minute trailers that are being shown have the best scenes in the film. The story has some of the worst possible clichés that even a doped screenwriter would have thought ten times before jotting down. The whole premise of the story is based on how a group of rockers, having a band that has the corniest of all the names – Magik, first breaks up and then bonds again and how each member of the band discovers life in the process.
The director for some very inane reason decides to interplay the break-up and bond-again simultaneously. Without much thought given to storytelling, the story keeps moving back and forth. While it may seem to be a great idea on paper (and authoress Arundhati Roy made a fabulous novel using the technique), it just doesn’t work on screen for this particular film.
Through the film, we are being told times and again how this wonderful band broke up due to a ‘big tussle’ and everything went haywire. The lead singer of the band, Farhan Akhtar left music and became a successful investment banker, albeit all the time he seems to be suffering from a bad bout of indigestion. The lead guitarist, a hot-headed Arjun Rampal, transforms into a henpecked desolate person who performs at some third rate functions. The drummer Purab is now working for his dad and the keyboard Luke Kenny is working for ad films, when he is not holding his head, as if in a tizzy.
To add to the agony, much screen time is wasted on unwanted characterization like that of Farhan’s wife, Prachi Desai, who is given much footage in the film and does justice to not even a centimetre of it. To be just to Ms. Desai, Rock On is a one big non-act in itself, everyone (including the director) seems to be sleep walking through the movie, with the possible exception of Purab possibly. In fact Farhan is a big let-down, because he somehow seems to be almost earnest in his performance and yet not enough. The only part he seems to suit is when he is lip-synching his songs. And the rest of the time, he struts along in a nervous daze.
The little said about Wooden Rampal, the better. In fact, he was so wood-like in his performance that the sofa on which he sits seems to emote better. It was really surprising, how he seem to be taking his role for granted, in fact in the songs where there he is supposed to be creating magic out of the guitar, he barely moves his hands. It was as if, he had little faith in his abilities to portray the role. He now firmly and finally joins the Kishen Kumar Acting club, and has Tusshar Kapoor to keep him company. The trouble with the casting of these rockers is that they seem to be too old when they should look young college-going rockers and seem a bit too young when they should look like middle aged losers. The only one who could manage to bring some amount of sincerity in his performance was Purab.
The worse thing (of the so many other worse things, a few of them has been listed above) is the deliberate attempt to make this an emotional saga than a story of 4 friends. Numerous attempts are made to somehow make your tear glands shed a drop or two. But somehow all these ‘heart-touching’ scenes, fail to touch anything including the heart. I really can’t understand, what was the real need to show the marital issues of Farhan, and his joy of becoming a father, etc. in what was supposed to be a guy movie. As said earlier, so much attention is heaped on the ladies in the film, that it seems that probably Balaji Telefilms was funding this movie. The whole story runs at such a superficial level that not once are you able to relate to the movie, probably except for the stinking rich pop’s lads and other wannabes.
The only thing good, in fact the two things that were good in the film, is the music and cinematography. There is much attention given to lighting in the story and the hard work of the person behind the camera shows. And undoubtedly, the music by Shankar Ehsan-Loy really works; Farhan’s singing capabilities are a revelation. Even the makers of the movie seem to be well aware of the strong point of the film, as in the before the final run of title, there is a message requesting the patrons to buy original music rather than downloading them. Indeed, buying the CD of the film is infinitely better than wasting money on viewing it. I do hope that my friends are able to get over the trauma and do not think that it was nasty trick played by me. At the end, I was equally conned by Rock (c)on. In the song Pichle Saat Din, there is this specific line that was reveberating in my head as I left the theatre that best expresses how I felt; Kabhi khud pe hasa main aur kabhi khud pe roya…(at times I laughed at myself and cried as well)
(The review has been done in the interest of public good, and viewers are advised to take the advice as seriously as their mind would permit them)