I have just finished watching “Rock Star” , the Ranbir starrer, on TV. A not-so-recent movie (released in 2011) which got Ranbir ample critical acclaim for his performance as the protagonist in the movie. Then why talk about it now ? Because Rock Star put me on a quandary and unsettled me to no end. So, what’s so disturbing about this high strung emotional drama?
The Plot : Janardan Jakhar (JJ), a rustic Haryanvi Jat and a student of Hindu College (surprised?) , aspires to become a Rock Star. Khatana, the college canteen owner, tells JJ to seek pain and heartbreak in order to notch up his singing to the ultimate level. JJ is infatuated by Heer (Nargis Fakhri), a Stephanite, whom he chases mindlessly at the expense of being humiliated and royally ignored, till one day Heer changes her mind and the pair becomes partners-in-crime watching raunchy movies, visiting sleazy joints, downing cheap liquor and having a gala time together.
In due course, Heer is married off to Jai (Moufid Aziz) and leaves for Prague and JJ gets thrown out of his home for allegedly stealing money. Thereafter, begins JJ’s nomadic journey through life and his meteoric ascendance to controversy-ridden stardom. Somewhere, up the chequered path to elevation, Janardan is transformed into Jordan – an impulsive, volatile, violent offspring of misguided passion – and lands up in Prague.
He, coincidentally enough, accosts a depressive and melancholic Heer, in the quiet streets of Prague, and its like a wet match-stick bursting into flames! Ensues a whirlwind affair translating the hitherto platonic relationship into a torrid tangle.
The consequences of the fatal attraction is predictable. Heer is not entirely bereft of guilt sharing bed with JJ. She tries to separate ways but to no avail. A love-sick JJ lands up at her doorstep, in the dead of the night, raising the house alarm and life is never the same again for Heer or JJ.
My Take : Conventions, blatantly scorned, make for attractive love stories. JJ and Heer are birds of the same feather. Both have a nomadic streak in their genes. Both have a congenital disregard for societal norms. Both wish to scale limitless heights driven by passion and amour! Hence, destined to be doomed.
Introspection : The questions that torment me while watching this stormy saga are many.
What do characters like Heer and JJ want from life?
In the lap of understated opulence, Heer is unhappy. Her clandestine rendezvous with JJ and ultimate adultery border on the licentious. Bawdy strip tease, nocturnal sprees to red-light districts and posing as a titivating prostitute define that quirk in her born out of boredom and monotony of an easy life.
JJ, on the other hand, is not exactly after celebrityhood, is he? He suffers from an almost suicidal disconnect from his ardent fans , vents ire on stage with his inflammatory “sadda haque aistthey rakh…” arousing an already crazed audience and is not bothered two bit whether his stardom is set forth or ready to fall back upon its haunches. Hounded by Police and Paparazzi with equal fervor, JJ is hell bent on swimming against the currents of life.
Is it love or lust that compel JJ and Heer to orbit around each other ?
Well, tempestuous it is, bringing them that close and pulling them further apart as well. Rather a satire of fate, how the two seek each other in vain throughout life knowingly or unknowingly. Miserable one without the other, yet, courting disaster, when together.
Would this unconventional bond have sublimated to a higher plateau had they got an opportunity to be together ever after?
The dangerous liaison crosses the fine line between license and liberty more than once and necessitates an urgent rethought on what is right or wrong. Again, it is this disenchant for the established scheme of things that distinguishes the alliance between Heer and JJ from the usual. Also, it is this absolute unminding of social bindings that is suggestive of something greater, something larger.
That brings me to the next question.
Are we limited by our obedience to laws, rules and norms?
We are indoctrinated to believe that rights entail duties. Personal liberty does not allow trespass in other’s territory. True enjoyment requires exercise of a certain amount of self-control and responsibility. If the entire society is given to disobedience the fabric may burst at seams. Yet, there are those who cannot care less. Is it pure selfishness then that provokes Heer to cross the lakshmanrekha ? What does JJ seek? Pursuit of pleasure? Or something which is beyond earthly longing that makes him unstoppable even if it is hurtful to others?
Performance : Superlative is the word for Ranbir. Nargis Fakhri is as wooden as my kitchen sideboard. But somehow she depicts exactly what JJ is not – the finer things of life.
The Other Things : A.R. Rahman again succeeds in composing some milestone music for this movie vocalizing JJ’s inner turbulence and the impatience of youth in general . Therefore, it was no surprise when the youth of India pounced upon the cult phrase “Sadda haque, Aitthey rakh….” as the figurative statement of freedom and birthright.
The Camera recounts the saga as violently pacing at rakish angles and quick silver movements justifying, and at the same time, adequately visualizing the plot. There is a strong undercurrent of sexism which narrows down the perspective of love and freedom. Imtiaz Ali, as the writer, needs to concentrate on how he would like to redefine both.
Conclusion : I always wanted to watch this film not because it is directed by someone whose debut venture (“Jab We Met”) was so enamouring that I have not stopped watching it as yet but because I was curious to follow the protagonist’s graph. I have met quite a few of them in my life who have left me wondering whether shackled to our limited bounds of family and society we have clipped our wings and consequently achieved less or nothing.
JJs always fascinate because they are different. They instigate and make us ponder on our limits. Perhaps subconsciously, we desire to be what we are not and emulate a Heer or a JJ. Perhaps some of us do float against the tide sometime or the other. But most of the times, we are cowered by what the society has to say or whether the consent of the family will be forthcoming.
Those who don’t, either spearhead revolutions or are destined to be doomed.