This One Truly Rocks!
By MovieTalkies.com, 29 August 2008
Director Abhishek Kapoor has made a film that he can be proud of. Rock On truly rocks. It is not a great film but a very well crafted movie, with good production values. Everything in the movie falls into place beginning with the story, the screenplay, the music, and the acting. Farhan Akhtar and his band of Magik makers win your heart. The theme of the film is such that it is bound to have universal appeal. It is all about giving your dreams a go and grabbing the second chance that life gives everyone. The setting may be a rock band, but the appeal definitely cuts across all boundaries and tugs at one's heart, in all the right places. The most amazing thing about the film is its screenplay and story, which stays consistent with its theme, from the beginning to the end. And for all those rock fans, the movie will definitely touch a chord somewhere.
The film, briefly, is about a band of regular guys, Aditya (Farhan Akhtar), the lead singer, Joe (Arjun Rampal), the lead guitarist, KD (Purab Kohli), the drummer and Rob (Luke Kenny), on the keyboards. They are young and full of dreams and create magic with their music. They get their big chance of making it big, which is wrecked by their inner conflicts and complexes. They disband and all the members go their separate ways. When the film begins, many years have passed, the members are all in their late thirties or early forties, each caught up in their life, with memories of Magik buried in some dark corner for most of them. Aditya, the lead protagonist, is a successful investment banker, minting money by the millions. He is married, has a wonderful wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai) and a beautiful home. Everything is hunk dory on the surface, but nothing is as it seems. Aditya is unfulfilled, holds himself aloof, and is somewhere living life with a grudge. His wife can sense his unhappiness but does not know how to help him and their marriage. A chance meeting with a KD at a jewellery store and some old pictures in the attic, give her the key that she needed. She plans a surprise birthday party for Aditya and invites his old friends. It does not go off well but it induces Aditya to think about his past and the painful and happy memories associated with Magik. He bonds back with KD, Joe and Rob. And these four men dare to dream again, make music and enter a competition. All falls into place but not before the past is dealt with. For each of them, rock music is magic, something which makes life worth living for. KD, is the son of a Gujarati businessman; Rob is making his living, arranging and playing instruments for film music directors like Anu Malik (plays himself in the movie), while Joe has the toughest story of all. He makes his loving by teaching a few children how to play the guitar, while his wife, Debbie (Sahana Goswami), struggles to make ends meet with the family's fish business. Debbie holds an even bigger grudge against the band and Aditya in particular as he is everything that Joe is not. The big day arrives when Magik will rock again and it is Joe who has to make a tough choice. He choses Magik over a well paying job as a musician in a cruise liner. Of course, he lands up in the nick of time and the band rocks again. As a postscript, we are told that life sorts itself out for all the band members. Rob, who was suffering from a brain tumor dies, two months after the rock concert, but the rest have managed to get a share of the pie. They still meet and jam and life has come full circle for them.
It's a simple enough theme, which has been dealt with a few times by Bollywood but what makes it stand out is the manner in which it is handled and narrated by the young director. He establishes his characters very well, with the minimum of fuss. He manages to straddle the past and the present very adeptly in his narrative structure, building a film, which is peopled with real human beings, with real feelings and dreams. The break up that takes place is so very natural, in that sense. Joe's feeling of insecurity as all the limelight is on Aditya, since he is the lead singer. And then, to top it, his song has been dropped, his fiancée does not get a chance to do the styling, it all comes out in a manner that he would have never dreamt of, but it sounds the death knell for their band. The characters that Kapoor has created are flawed and hence so natural. Rob, compromising on his music as he makes a living out of Hindi films, KD, working with his father in the business, Joe, living everyday with his failure and the super successful Aditya, who has everything but lives in a vaccum.
The most touching story is that of Joe's and Debbie, two individuals who have lost the knack to dream, at least Debbie surely has. Joe still has the capacity to dream but Debbie is caught up with bitterness and a sense of duty, surely the worst of all combinations. When the band comes together for the second time, it is like life again for all of them. For those 20 minutes on stage, is like oxygen for them, their reason to be alive. It is brought out most poignantly by the character of Rob, who knows that he is going to die but wants one chance to feel truly alive.
The script, the screenplay, the dialogues and the characters have been so well etched that one is sure that it has made the job of the actors much easier. The chemistry between the four actors who play the band members is so palpable that one can almost touch and feel it. All four of the actors have done a marvelous job cannot be forgotten in a hurry. Farhan Akhtar proves what a natural and gifted man he is. He is a very talented director, proves with this film that he is a very accomplished actor and singer too. He gets into the skin of the character with such ease and mastery. One cannot believe that this is his first movie as an actor. Arjun Rampal turns in one of his best performances ever as the troubled but very talented Joe, a man of few words. Farhan and Arjun's chemistry together, especially in the concert scenes is worth looking out for. Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli too render fine, nuanced performances as KD and Rob respectively. Of the females, the one who actually stands out is not Prachi Desai but Sahana Gowami as Debbie.
The film's music, which has been composed by Shankar Ehsaan and Loy is quite a treat on the ears. Heard by itself, it does not have even half the impact or magic that it has when watched on the screen. The songs have been picturised superbly, specially the ones which are played during the rock concert. The effect is quite electrifying. Since it is a film based on rock music, it would have fallen quite flat if the basic premise did not work. But the trio of Shankar Ehsaan Loy have done a superb job with the numbers that they have composed. Farhan's vocals work very well for these soft rock numbers.
Rock On is a film that works on all levels. It is a satisfying watch as one comes back having heard and seen a story which has been very well told and well enacted too. The directors, the actors and the musicians are to be credited for their heartening efforts to create a movie experience that truly rocks. Great effort by Abhishek Kapoor.