Seven years ago, Imtiaz Ali did something that only he can do. He took away a piece of our hearts that we will never get back. He brought Jordan into our lives. Jordan left behind all the pieces of his broken heart. And we, the hopeless romantics, keep grabbing those pieces, over and over again, and keep bleeding. Seven years ago, Bollywood movie Rockstar was released. It received criticism for the character sketches, acting, rise and fall of pace, and more. But the love received was larger than life. And, it is safe to say that Rockstar has gone past the seven-year itch.
Here’s looking back on the seven years of Bollywood movie Rockstar.
Rockstar, an underrated, much-loved, much-criticised film in Bollywood, is not for everyone. Those who fell in love will confirm that there’s no decline in their love for the movie, even in the seventh year. Rockstar is a story we have heard before, presented in a new way, with fresh Rahman songs, unforgettable moments, and a lot more.
A heartbreak that shouldn’t have been
Like every music enthusiast, Ranbir’s Janardan, an innocent boy with a guitar in hand, thought that only pain could bring out the artiste within. He went looking for a romance and heartbreak. He had grown up in a large family, receiving everyone’s attention as the juvenile boy with a worrisome immaturity. He found a friend in the closeted wild-child, Heer. Then, life happened. So did death. He ended up on the streets, finding his morsels at God’s house. Anger filled his mind. He got his heart broken, over and over again; when he wanted it to stop, it didn’t. From the boy who once knew nothing about pain and anger, he became someone who could feel nothing but pain and anger, until nothing was all he felt, during his journey of finding what he wanted and losing all he had. And during all this, he loved. He didn’t realise when and how to start or stop, but he just loved, till it hurt. Remember how his pain grabbed your heart in the fist and scrunched it?
Songs that were more than just songs
Rockstar can well be called a musical, with AR Rahman creating a rare kind of magic. Each and every song, every piece of music, was like unsaid words, like the meaning between lines. As Irshad Kamil’s words say, “Jo bhi mae kehna chahun, barbaad karein alfaaz mere…” Where words could have destroyed what Jordan wanted to say, Rahman’s music filled in. Every soundtrack captured a different emotion and mood, through a different genre of music. The notes and beats used in the songs showcase the change in Jordan’s life and mind. Touches of soft rock, Punjabi folk, Qawwali, Tango, Czech gipsy music, Indian classical, etc. find the perfect fusion, with Kamil’s words. From drums to dholak, from accordion to harmonium, from shehnai to guitar, it’s all there, creating a bewitching world of otherworldly music. Because, Rahman is the real Rockstar.
By 2011, Ranbir had already proven himself with movies like Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh, and Rajneeti. And now, he was Janardan. Playing Jordan without overdoing his emotions could not have been easy. But Ranbir owned it. He was more than just a pretty face. He was more than just a Kapoor. He was Rockstar, the movie. He and the ill-fated, bipolar boy became the same entity. He brought alive the intensity, innocence, and purity with which Jordan felt everything, from spirituality to anger, from his love for Heer to his hate for himself. He convinces the audience that without Jordan, Heer literally started to die. With his hoarse voice and scruffy face, he makes you feel how much Jordan wants the pain to stop hurting. And you’re left in despair – Jordon’s despair.
Wrongdoing and rightdoing
What’s wrong? What’s right? Who decides on the definitions? We have seen very few Hindi films venturing into the dangerous territory of extramarital affair. As a Bollywood movie, Rockstar deals with the subject delicately. Heer, who had been forced to act like a well-behaved, proper ‘lady’ all her life, fell for Jordan, a gust of wind beneath her wings. But after her marriage, her life of rules led her to depression. Then, Jordan happened again. He made her smile, laugh, play. He let her be naughty, be childish, be herself. They forgot everything else and broke shackles. The next time they met, Heer was battling cancer, and Jordan was battling with her absence in his life. There was no butterfly in your stomach when they kissed or came closer: think about it. In those moments, you felt love, so strongly that it almost pained. And it all made sense – “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there’s a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Imtiaz tells a love story like no one else can. He can make you feel things like no one else can. Rockstar is one of the finest examples of that. Smallest of moments in the movie leave the biggest moments, like the intertwined fingers of Jordan and Heer, or Jordan’s sudden silence in the middle of his Qawwali when he looks up. There’s something unique in the narration of the story, too. There’s neither a chronological order in the flow of the events, nor is it a flashback. There’s a freshness in the disorganised back and forth of the happenings. It’s all a disarray – much like the life of Jordan. And, it definitely makes you wonder if it’s time for the other filmmakers of Bollywood to start thinking of newer ways of narrating a story.
Is Bollywood movie Rockstar the best work of Imtiaz Ali Khan?
Many will disagree. Nargis almost negates Ranbir’s performance with her mannerisms and plastic ways. Some have complained that the narration was non-linear. The dependence of Jordan’s life-story on others has been criticised. The story is a cliche, said some. Rockstar comes with many flaws.
But, that’s what makes it so real. You love it because of the flaws and not despite them, like that one person you want to be in love with for the rest of your life. It’s a welcome reminder of all things crazy, because when there’s no passion and pain, there’s silence – either of peace or of numbness. Rockstar remains a wound you don’t want completely healed. Every now and then, you like to see this wound throb a little and make you realise that your heart’s still pumping blood – and more – into your veins.