ROCK ON!! Director: Abhishek Kapoor. Players: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Luke Kenny, Pracha Desai, and Shahana Goswami. Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy. Excel, 2008.
With the new trend of “multiplex movies,” or films that are meant predominantly for metropolitan city audiences, the Bollywood film industry has been producing films on many new subjects and themes. These “multiplex movies” can be seen as a variation on the traditional art film. While art films tend to be centered on serious themes and don’t have the signature Bollywood song and dance sequences, “multiplex movies” are purely commercial films.
Rock On!! is such a film, which tells the story of a struggling rock band in Bombay. The film opens with the band, Magic, performing to a packed, adoring audience. Aditya (Akhtar) is the lead singer, Joe the lead guitarist (Rampal), and KD and Rob (Kohli and Kenny) provide accompaniment. We flash forward 10 years, where we see each of these individuals in their present day lives. There is no band, and definitely no rock n’ roll in their lives. Aditya is an I-banker, Joe a poor, struggling musician, KD is working at the family jewelry store, and Rob creates tunes for a top Bollywood music director. The film jumps back and forth between Magic’s heyday and the present dreary life they all lead, telling the story of how it all fell apart. A chance meeting between Aditya’s wife, Sakshi (Desai), and KD brings the band back together.
Though the storyline moves forward at a slow pace, the audience is kept engaged. Director/writer Abhishek Kapoor has done a very good job of displaying the nuances of each character, as their egos clash and slowly build toward disaster. Rampal is fantastic as the once wild and fun-loving, but now dark and brooding guitarist. Only Rampal would have the temerity to pull off a handle-bar moustache and waist-long hair! Akhtar (director of Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Don) takes on a different role this time, as producer and lead actor in the film. Akhtar’s aptitude as a “helmer” far exceeds his skills as a thespian, but his effort is laudable. Kohli is endearing with his positive attitude; he delivers well when his character finally tires of the constant ego battles between Aditya and Joe, and gives them a piece of his mind. The best performance is delivered by Joe’s wife, Debbie (Goswami). A strong actress with classic Bengali looks, she should go far in Bollywood.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is different than their other albums; the last few songs in the film are the catchiest. The story has similar thematic elements asDil Chahta Hai, one of broken friendships. Though this film is no Dil Chahta Hai, and is sometimes a little too slow paced, it is interesting. Scenes and situations are very realistic, and none of the characters have been exaggerated, whether in personality or behavior. A very young and fresh film, today’s Gen-Y crowd will definitely relate to and enjoy Rock On!!
|Antara Bhardwaj is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.|