Rajeev Masand

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Music of the heart



Rating: 3

November 11, 2011

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Kumud Mishra, Piyush Mishra, Shammi Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar is a far-from-perfect film, but it has honesty and depth, which is mostly missing in Hindi movies today.

Ranbir Kapoor is Janardan Jakhar, a middle-class kid from Delhi’s Pitampura, who sets himself up to get his heart broken when he’s told he can’t be a great musician until he’s suffered great pain. Janardhan goes from a desperate struggler strumming his guitar at campus hangout spots, to an angsty star, now rechristened Jordan, who’s prone to violent outbursts. Indeed it’s love and pain itself that inspires this journey. His heart beats for the unattainable Heer (Nargis Fakhri), the gorgeous Kashmiri girl he befriended while in college, who is now married in Prague.

Despite several hiccups, especially in the film’s post-intermission portions, Rockstar is an admirable effort if only for how unconventionally director Imtiaz Ali tells this tale of great passion. The romance at the core of this film is a complex one, and the film offers no easy answers. Watch how Heer comes alive each time she’s in Jordan’s presence, whereas when he’s without her his longing prompts his best music out of him.

From the very moment in, it’s evident Imtiaz understands his characters intimately and gives us lovely little moments to know them better. Like that scene in which Janardhan’s sitting in a canteen and complaining that he’s shattered over being shot down by the campus hottie. “If your heart was really broken, you wouldn’t be sitting here eating samosas and arguing over chutney,” his friend tells him, calling his bluff. In a later scene where a bhabhi protects him from his irate brothers, he screams at her for being too touchy-feely. There’s sharp wit on display here, including a scene in which Jordan sits poker faced for the most part, while a music baron chats with him about a contract in the midst of getting a massage.

The film’s chief lapses are its meandering script, and its less-than-impressive leading lady, both of which cost the film dearly. Nargis Fakhri is lovely to look at, but offers very little in terms of acting, reducing her character ultimately to a simpering-whimpering victim. Of the supporting cast, only Kumud Mishra makes a big impression as Jordan’s mentor and manager Khatana, who watches helplessly as his friend sinks into a quicksand of despair.

Rockstar is never as surefooted as Imtiaz’s breakout hit Jab We Met, but it’s a braver, riskier film than any he’s previously made. AR Rahman’s score serves as the spine of this enterprise, emerging expectedly as one the film’s biggest strengths. A word also for Anil Mehta’s dramatic camerawork; not merely for the lush Kashmiri landscapes but also for the edgily-shot concert scenes.

But Rockstar belongs to Ranbir Kapoor over everyone else. It’s a riveting performance – from Janardan’s rough edges to Jordan’s wildly unpredictable ways – and Ranbir roots it in the real. Watch how he seizes the stage in the Sadda haq number and virtually makes the track his own. For Ranbir alone, this film deserves a watch.

I’m going with three out of five for director Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar. In these times of instant gratification, here’s a film that makes you think. Not a perfect film, but one that stays with you long after the lights have come back on.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

75 Responses to “Music of the heart”

  1. gaurav says:

    completely agree with your opinions

  2. vara prasad says:

    thanx for the review sir 🙂

  3. Vikram Mehta says:

    Rockstar is an awesome movie. Loved every bit of the 2.45 hours. Hardcore romantic and a must watch for ppl who like romantic movies. Ranbir Kapoor ROCKS thru out the movie…

  4. smiley says:

    I have to disgree with your review this time, though u r my fav critic. I was speechless after seeing Rockstar – its that huge a disappointment. Its hard to believe Imtiaz Ali made this film. Flawed script, inconsistent screenplay, no common thread binding the flow of the film ( like Mausam ), zero chemistry btwn lead actors, love story lacks fizz… Only silver lining is Ranbir’s superlative portrayal of the various shades of his character … such a brilliant actor .. lives his role like Aamir Khan … another big lifeline of the film are Mohit Chauhan’s soul-stirring songs along with Rahman’s music… Rockstar is this epic bubble which has burst. I was so looking forward to seeing this film.. booked tickets for 1st day, evening show at Metro ( which had quite a few empty seats) and in the end when the line came ” written and directed by Imtiaz Ali “.. audience started laughing. That says a lot.

  5. mithun says:

    i totally agree with u sir.. But it deserves atleast a 3.5. . . No other film in recent times could make us understand the intensity of love,just with its songs instead of cheesy dialogues.this one’s a treat 4 those who’d experienced true love.and ranbir – the best performance 4m him so far.. This film wil surely stay in my heart for a long time.. Music is the most understanding way 2 express love n pain

  6. Anup Pandey says:

    True. Also highlighting part of the screenplay was the underlying love story. Imitiaz’s idea of love is same for each of hismovies but unique. read my full review here: http://thepuccacritic.blogspot.com/2011/11/rockstar.html

  7. yasir says:

    Were u blind folded while watchng ths movie..the worst movie of imtiaz ali…

  8. amit says:

    watch it if u like music….rahman and ranbir deadly combination…

  9. chaitanya says:

    ranbir looks a completely different soul, wat a performance…., editing is to da mark.., camera work great.., ranbir steals all da applause…. Loved it….

  10. Saim says:

    Didn’t like it at all. Its just they r trying to prove it good just so RA ONE shouldn’t get the marks, though that one was absolutely different & brilliant film. But no song is very catchy or nothing was likable stories were same as well. Nothing different. 1/5

  11. Rahul says:

    Thanks for the review! I heard Ranbir’s guitar picking is not in sync with the music that comes out? How could they allow that for a movie called “Rockstar”?

  12. Praveen Menon says:

    Ranbir, with Rockstar, has proved that he is one of the best things to have happened to our industry in last six years, He is the next “SUPERSTAR”

  13. Srinath says:

    Another huge flaw in the film is Ranbir’s guitar playing… it is neither convincing nor does it it sync with the music at many instances… being a movie about a musician, this is critical…

  14. Anand says:

    I totally agree with smiley. What imtiaz has done here is to try and emulate ‘jab we met’ but fails miserably in the process. he has tried to make nargis a bubbly person like kareena, which to an extent works, but fails miserably in the acting dept, . the storyline is flawed, without no common thread binding the flow of the film. The element of coincidence in ‘jab we met’ where shahid bumps into kareean s missing in rocksar. ranbir somehw reaches prague and meet his luv in a jiffy! Imtiaz tries to work out the magic of the czech republic, presumably inspired by the zindgai na milegi dobara and spain! which to an extent works!

    But overall a bad movie..stellar performance by ranbir! no-show by nargis..poor cinematography…thrs a hazy look to the entire film..wasnt there enough light during the shoot?

  15. kapil says:

    I have been watching movies since last two years after reading your reviews..
    Watched Rockstar yesterday before your review as it was a company sponsored movie..
    What all everyone enjoyed is only free popcorn and coke..First time in a company, people had same feeling on any topic with not a single exception….
    Biggest flaw in the film is editing..Acting for Ranbir is only about looking confused and shouting on every possible chance..
    have no words for acting skills of Nargis..
    Sorry to say..first time its an exception for me with a difference in your rating review and actual movie experience..

  16. Farhan says:

    I agree with the review almost completely. Movie is interesting in the first half but second one is boring and flawed. Ranbir is AWESOME throughout the movie. But, Imtiaz Ali’s direction is where the movie lacks. And thats why the second part sucks!! Second half is full of confusingly arranged scenes which spin the head and made me almost giddy, lol. And KunFayaKun song is well below expectations. That song was supposed to give us goosebumps, exactly which it failed to give. Singing was quite ordinary in it. Rest of the songs are good. Honestly, Ranbir is the only good thing about the film! His screen presence, charm and dedication is all thats worth-watching. He has yet again proved that his place is quite firmly reserved in the industry for years to come. Besdies, Nargis was all about good-looks and nothing beyond that. Her acting skills are quite bad and its funny why they chose someone who cant even speak hindi and her part has to recorded by someone else. Its a shame that a foriegner was prefered over an Indian.
    All in all, movie is quite balanced in terms of pros and cons. Again, Ranbir Kapoor is a treat to watch. 🙂

  17. Gautam says:

    I completely agree with u.it’s a very good movie and we do not see such movies in Bollywood

  18. maddy says:

    Are you kidding me?? this is the most disappointing movie of this year..no script, terrible acting(if at all) by the leading lady and not one of the best rehman works too..i agree that ranbir was okaish..but the movie surely doesn’t even deserve a 1* let alone 3..terrible waste of time and money..

  19. vishal mishra says:

    Sir u rock like always!Grt review but i have only one problem that ‘Rockstar’ tries to do so many thngs in in those 150 minutes-from extra martial affair to pain of love to portryal of fun loving girl a la Geet of Jab we Met to philosophy that all honesty goes out of the window and it seems like overconfidence without modesty.
    Dont know but i found it quite childish & formula driven and formula taken from Anurag Kashyap brand of cinema who heavily borrows it from Hollywood classics (i.e.Sorcesse).

  20. Sagar Balani says:

    I am amazed at ur rating for Rockstar …. other than Ranbir the movie wasnt tht gr8 at all … the Screenplay was sluggish and confusing for the audience. Looked as if the Director was confused whether to make a love story or a journey of a Rockstars life!!

    very very amazed as u hv given much better movies much lower stars!!

  21. Nisarg says:

    thanks for the review sir.. definitely watch for Rahman sir’s music , and Ranbir Performance..

  22. durgesh sirwani says:

    Generally the third movie of a director is the closest to his.heart. where he is tryin to cater to his own senses more than anyone else’s . I think this was that from imtiaz. He dived deep into his creative senses and tried to create a movie that was different and a bit more intellectual than the general crop of bollywood movies.

    But then it got to moments several times where it was a bit too intellectual for itself. There were moments when the audience failed to keep up with the plot jumping and both Jordan’s stories ( rockstar life n love life with heer) remained undercooked. Yet the film felt a bit sluggish in the final quarter…

    But agree with rajeev still refreshing to watch a movie which was not trying too hard to provide wholesome entertainment in one package. A watchable movie.

  23. Sujay says:

    I think Rockstar is a movie with a heart. The first scene in movie is the Best Scene of this movie. With a better Screen play & tighter script the movie would have been benefitted immensely.

  24. jitendra says:

    i was so looking forward to watching ths movie. But it’s failed to live up to my expectation. story is so cliched, even 90s audiences could easily interpret it. Imtiaz was so lost into his direction, that sometimes or rather most of time, he compromised abt story line and songs. Only redeeming feature is ranbir’s acting and music ofcourse but only in cd.

  25. BenJodh says:

    Those who didn’t liked it, don’t have a heart. U always hit the bull’s eye Mr.Masand.

  26. Sateesh Kumar says:

    Incomparision with rest of the Rajeev Masand’s, that also after a long long time, he has given 3 points out of 5. Lets see this movie.

  27. Sateesh Kumar says:

    I mean after a very long time, I saw a good rating from this guy. Even he has given a low rating to many movies, even they went well with the script. Lets see this movie.

  28. Nitin says:

    couldnt agree more with your review.

  29. wasim says:

    GO for ROCKSTAR for Ranbir and Rehman……..must watch movie for ranbir’s performance.

  30. nelson says:

    that was a generou 3/5 just watch it for the sake of ranbeer and rahman

  31. KD007 says:

    thanx for your reviews sir that was one time watch movie nothing else i would say . . .

  32. Jo says:

    Rockstar belongs to Ranbir Kapoor, his performance was really good. The cinematography was a treat. Nargis looked good but lacked in skills (Katrina was not that talented either in few of her first films). For me the biggest disappoint is the script. It could have been much better. The first half was good, i enjoyed it but the second half is where it tests my patients. Although the film tries to be honest, there are many unrealistic stuffs out there in the film. As of Imtiaz Ali I thought he was trying something different with Rockstar, thought that the film was going to be a totally rock n roll sort of movie but it turned out to be a romantic film after all. Imtiaz did a decent job when it comes to direction but he needs to improve his writing. AR Rahman’s song will grow on the audiences. All in all I rate this movie 2.5 stars out of 5.

  33. Abhinav Acharya says:

    Great music and a lovely performance by ranbir are the two best things about the movie. The concerts have been shot in a very nice way.

  34. ATINAMOON says:

    just been to watch rockstar in England..and im so impressed with rabirs acting..i thought he could really play the guitar and sang those songs!..he was truly acting…the story was a bit removed from the typical bollywood romance but still riveting..i was shocked with the amount of kissing!..good golly times have moved on..nargis is so visual..you just want to look at her she is so beautiful,but and theres a big but..she did better acting at being near deaths ally!..i hope she improves as me thinks she will be katrinas rival..the bloody film did make me cry but it doesnt take much to do that..music was amazing so befitting the story..defo go and see this film .

  35. hemanth says:

    i am going with two out of five music rocks…

  36. Dhaval says:

    only watch for ar rahman’s music n ranbir..n nargis for her lips 😛
    but then too sir 3 is a bit more…2 stars were enough…story is ok bt screenplay is complicated…

  37. tarun says:

    Hi Rajeev,
    U r one critic i really tally with and hv sincere regard for.. But this time i beg to differ with ur review! Rockstar was so below average.. Besides Ranbir’s talent & Nargis’ gorgeous face, i actually went for Imtiaaz Ali… and what i get to see is an absolutely unconvincing loose script, executed even more amateurishly! So many times Imtiaaz’s helplessness was getting reflected on to the scenes, where-in he’s tried his level best but the girl cudn’t do more.. Even the dialogues were so weak, i cudn’t help biting myself.. Ranbir 2 stars, Rahman saab 2 stars, Nargis -1, Imtiaaz -1, Kumud and Locales 0.5… so 2.5/5! I really wana take back anothr 0.5 for disappointing me…

  38. Have to mention, that the entire audience in the hall laughed at it. The second half was filled with sentences like ‘arre abhi tho jaane de yaar use’ and collective groans for everyone of Ranbir Kapoor+Nargis Fakhri scenes. The disappointment is multifold because Rockstar was supposed to come in as a refreshing change from the Ready, Bodyguard, Ra.One headaches. Sad.

  39. Asmita says:

    I completely agree with you over Nargis’ acting. But the way the scenes have been shot, the dialogues, the direction and Ranbir’s fabulous acting are some of the factors that make Rockstar work. All in all, I loved this film. This will definitely take Ranbir to new heights

  40. ayush maheshwari says:


  41. Ankesh says:

    Anks Review – Rockstar (3/5) – First of all, this movie is not about Music or Rock concept. This movie is a Love Story of a person Janardhan Jakhad “Jordan” played by Ranbir Kapoor who passionately wanted to be Rockstar and trying hard to find it’s way through and get entangled in unique love story. Likewise his previous movies, Imtiyaz Ali brought love angle in it’s unique way. The movie is fast paced in first half and build the ground very well but failed to connect it with Rockstar Persona of second half. The story is good, cinematography is excellent but it has a weak screen play. The movie could have been much better if Imtiyaz focused on build-up of “ROCKSTAR” image as in promos movie positioned as image of Rockstar not a run of the mill Love Story. However the performance of Ranbir Kapoor is commendable and he is really convincing at all stages that character of Janardhan Jakhad been through… and yes the best part of this movie was A.R.Rahman music throughout.. Overall it is a good watch… especially when we are bombarded with movies like Ready, Bodyguard, Singham, Ra.One etc….

  42. Sumit says:

    I will rate this movie 4 Stars for many reasons.

    1. Ranbir’s thriller acting, his innocence, his anger, his passion in song “Nadaan Parindey” and Sadda Haq.

    2. Rahman’s true rockstar music, I buy every ACD of Rahman, and would say this was his best music. Actually most people do not understand music they need some masala music or catchy music like Chummak Chhallo which is the cheapest song of the year. Even Jim Morrison’s album “The Doors” doesnt have such music.

    3. Intelligent and unconventional movie, you dont see such kind of movies in india. I would suggest people who like SRK’s type movies should stay away from cinema hall.

    4. People in India don’t know how to watch movie and what to watch in the movie. The movie was about music and passion, and both were fully stuffed in the movie.

  43. Pavan says:

    Rockstar fails to provide wholesome entertainment but it has its moments.
    may be we can say its true move , sensible and potrayed emotions and moments.
    need to watch one more , what actually Imtiaz Ali trying to convey in film..,

    Rocking performance from ranbir, awesome music from AR Rahman were treat to watch..
    go for it if you want to experince a differnt movie , not the regular boolywood stuff..

  44. seema says:

    Great direction,great acting but the story sucks!! “Rockstar”.

  45. anonymous says:

    not a good movie….i did not understand the lyrics in the songs…may be thats why i didn’t like it…but ranbir was very good……SADDA HAQ was superb…ultimately….a musical film….

  46. amit shah says:

    heartbreaking movie imtial ali is father of yash chopra in specially in make love story.

  47. Ramesh Kumble says:

    Generally Indian audiences are not fond of complicated screenplay, they just want nonsense movies like Ready or Ra.One which is having more glamour and cheap jokes. Ready was dead boring, Ra.One was utterly nonsense childish movies. So they prefer such kind of movies. The people abroad prefer watching these kind of movies. Indian audiences especially mass audience are nit mature enough to absorb these kind of movies that’s why the movie flop. Aamir Khan is the only guy who succeeded in doing it he made sure that his best offbeat movies were hit like Taare Zameen Par and Peepli Live.

  48. BATRA says:

    FIRST half is pretty good the movie lost it in the later half damn slow 🙁

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