Some of the music critics had been particularly harsh on the soundtrack of “Rock On”. To the untrained ear, it didn’t seem bad at all on celluloid. Though the tunes may not become memorable, the music carries the plot and the rawness of Farhan Akhtar’s vocals somehow matches the rawness of his band as it strives to break into the big times.
But it’s not Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s efforts alone that turn “Rock On” into an honest, good film. The concept of the movie and its execution, and the realistic characters and their quietly powerful performances make significant contribution too.
A film about the life and times of a boy band seemingly does not have mass appeal, but its message is for everybody – it’s never too late to live your dream. For all those with unfulfilled dreams and ambitions lost in time, “Rock On” will impart hope.
The plot moves back and forth in time as we learn what Aditya (Farhan Akhtar), Joe (Arjun Rampal), Rob (Luke Kenny) and K.D. (Purab Kohli) do, and did 10 years ago. Back in time they were members of Magik, a rock bank which splits soon after winning a ticket to possible success.
So bitter is the parting that they head in different directions, not to meet till 10 years later. By now, Aditya is an investment banker, Joe a part time music teacher, K.D. dabbles in the family jewellery business while Rob works as a session musician.
Aditya is the most affluent of the lot but beneath all that looks ideal, he’s a tormented soul. Wife Saakshi (Prachi Desai) accidentally discovers the reason for his aloofness and arranges a meeting with his estranged band members. After some initial awkwardness and hesitation, the four set off again, from where they left.
After his highly dramatic “Aryan”, writer-director Abhishek Kapoor keeps it simple and mature here. For a story that presents many moments for possible melodrama, “Rock On” is understated, making it true to life and identifiable. Not surprisingly, one can notice traces of the Farhan Akhtar style of filmmaking, especially in the way male bonding, twisted relationships and complex emotions are handled, and attention is paid to detail ensuring nothing remains disconnected. The reunion scenes among the band members as well as Aditya’s meeting with an ex girlfriend are particularly treated with intense care.
For most part, “Rock On” wears a golden hue and is beautifully shot, making it pleasing to the eye as well. In fact, all the visual elements are good-looking. The rock concert sequences are created convincingly, credit for which also goes to the cast which lives its roles rather skillfully.
Farhan Akhtar makes an impressive debut as an actor. Though not as explosive as his directorial debut, his foray into acting works just as well. As Magik’s lead vocalist as well as an investment banker, Farhan is controlled, but highly affective. True to his self he pays a lot of attention to his on stage rock musician act, and comes across quite like one.
The movie’s other debutant, Prachi Desai, makes a mark too. Her transition from the sari-clad Bani of “Kasamh Se” to the beautifully syled Sakshi of “Rock On” is refreshing.
Shahana Goswani, as Joe’s ever slogging wife Debbie, has a longer role though, and does very well too. Largely unnoticed in her earlier three films, it will be difficult, and unfair, not to recognise her henceforth. Along with Farhan Akhtar, hers is the best performance of the movie.
Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli do complete justice to their parts, which often get demanding. Their effortless acting is supported by good dialogues and some witty lines.
Barring its slow pace, everything about "Rock On" is spot on, but is Bollywood and the audience in general ready for a full-fledged film set against the backdrop of a rock band?
Maybe not, going by what’s working these days.
But Gen Next, at whom the movie is primarily aimed, must do its bit to appalud and welcome all positive attempts to take Hindi cinema forward, especially if the attempt is as sincere and commendable as “Rock On”.