It started as a twitter discussion. As always, we were accusing Anurag Kashyap of following the mantra “It’s All About Loving Your Friends (and their films)”. Later on, we found out that AK had told Imtiaz Ali, yeh film aapse kahin zyada mujhe samajh me aaye hai. Or something like that. Well, now how do you react. Since i don’t have a memory chip inside me, the quotes here are not verbatim. Have tried to present the essence of the thought.
Back to AK. As AK was continuously defending Rockstar, and even claimed that there have been more than 10 Rockstar-converts so far. Those who didn’t like it the first time or had problems with it, went again, and they liked it much more the second time. AK told Jahan to go and watch it again, the second time, and he will pay for the ticket. I asked for one extra. AK offered 8 extra tickets so that 10 more people who had issues with it, or hated it when they saw it the first time, can go and watch it again. It was FCFS and all the tickets were gone in seconds. Well, i think i was the only one who liked it a lot when i saw it the first time. I could understand all the criticism for the film but it was Ranbir and Rahman who made me buy it completely.
Kashyap sent the tickets in next one hour and offered more – Imtiaz Ali will also be there after the film to take on every kind of question/criticism. Word spread fast and more people wanted to join in for the post-screening discussion. I was skeptical. It’s 9:30pm show. By the time it will get over and we will come out of the screening, it will be 1pm. Raat ke 1 baje? Yaar dost toh theek hai, anjan logon ka kya? If Imtiaz doesn’t turn up, am not going to offer my ass to them. I blamed it all on Kashyap. Yes, AK has promised that Imtiaz will be there.
Film got over. I came running out because the show was running late. Imtiaz Ali was there. As promised, Kashyap delivered. And what’s more, got some rolls and biryani too. I thought there will be 10-15 of us. We sat down on the stairs outside Cinemax. And soon there were about 30-40 cinema lovers who sat there for the next three hours discussing Rockstar, its structure, music, dubbing, casting, love, guilt, and life in general.
So 3hour long discussion in one post? And we didn’t record anything. Let me try. Will just go on typing as it comes to my mind. Try if you can make out any sense from this rambling.
AK started the discussion by saying that we will discuss Nargis Fakhri for the first 20mins. We can discuss everything else later on. Priority.
IA : It was difficult to find a girl who could look the part and do the talking too. Also, whatever you do with Ranbir, it’s difficult to play him down. So it became more difficult to find someone who could match upto him. When Nargis joined the set, one of my ADs felt the same that you guys are talking about it. But slowly it worked out. I feel that it will happen the same with Nargis.
AK – Do you know how was Waheeda Rahman described in her debut film? Believe it or not, as a maid.
But, really? A new face who could deliver the lines?
IA – It’s difficult to explain here, not sure how to do it but in a romantic film you are always looking for that soul connect. For that magic to happen and come out on screen. I felt it did happen with Nargis.
Navjot pointed out about her voice which is dubbed and other female actors who played the role of Nargis’ relatives.
IA – We tried it with three dubbing artists. It just wasn’t working. Mona dubs for most heroines and i wanted to try someone new. But nothing worked and when Mona did, i thought it was working. So went back to her.
About casting of other female characters, he just smiled and ran his fingers through his hair locks.
i was dying to ask him about his cinema template of ‘Cool and confused lovers will travel a (physical) distance to realise their true love’ which i wrote about it here. Does he realise it when he is writing?
He smiled and said, it’s my shortcoming. I just don’t realise it at all. Never do. May be it happens sub-consciously but it ends up like that.
So how did Rockstar started?
IA: Muazzam, who was with Whistling Woods, i was trying to help him for his film. And he had a story where the character feels that dil tootene pe hi sangeet banegi, i really liked it. Asked him i can take it forward and write it. He said, since nothing is happening, i can go ahead. Then he came back and said he is making it. So i abandoned it. Then again it went to and fro for few years and nothing happened till i decided to make it. The earlier version was quite bad and different from this one. ( IA wanted John Abraham for the film then).
And the narrative structure? why so?
IA : It was written like it. Two reasons. I felt this character is a star, so it would be good to have some kind of mystery around him, take him away from others, what happens to him, when it happens, how it happens, the narrative style gave me that choice to play around him, take him away, add mystery, distance to him. So you will say that it’s used more in the portions when he is becoming or has become Rockstar. Also, i tried reading it straight. It was becoming boring, monotonous. I thought let’s go with it. So all the scenes were written like it. And at many places it was economical thing to do. Like the sequence where Heer is introduced, boys are talking about her, following her, she is still performing on stage. The sequence is inter-cut with scenes where they are falling for her.
Her death? It seems very simplistic solution to do it.
IA : (thinks for sometime) It was always written like that. Always. Not sure how. Also because it was Heer-Ranja story in a way. So it went in the same flow.
Prague? What’s this fascination to go out and get the firangis to dance on desi music?
IA : i travel a lot and lot for musical stuff. In many of the European countries that i have been to, i have met many musicians who have very distinct Indian roots. That gypsie musicians who have roots here. Also, when he goes there, he is making music with them. Its their music also, their vocals too, he is picking up the music and creating his own sound. It never seemed out of place to me.
Through out the discussion, it was difficult to control Kashyap and Ali’s fanboy Navjot who were too eager to share their versions of all the answers. Kashyap explained how he has been to so many concerts outside India where he was the only member in the audience who was sleeping through out and there were foreigners who were completely into it. With music it happens. I nodded my head, been to one such Himesh Reshammiya concert in London. Oh, occupational hazard. But those were mostly NRIs.
But it’s easily one of Rahman’s best album.
IA – You guys can’t believe how embarrassed I was doing the recording. It was only Rahman in the studio and I was sitting behind him and Mohit Chauhan was in the booth. I suddenly get up, put the mic on and tell Mohit that saar, aap note ko hit nahi kar rahe ho. Yeh ho nahi raha and blah blah. And then as I come back to my seat, I realise that Rahman saab was sitting there, but he just doesn’t say anything. He asks, Mohit, ready? And we record again. Just like an operator. And i was so embarrassed, i could not believe what i was doing. It’s Rahman. And i am telling the singer what to do. And i did it again, i just could not believe. Rahman is in a different space. It’s always ‘inclusive music’ for him. He will take everyone together and move ahead. Unko chor diya toh dham se giroge, kahan giroge iska koi bharosa nahi. But if it happens with you and you know what you want, he is just magcial.
Kashyap also spoke a lot about his experience of working with Rahman. The absolutely no fuss guy and blah blah.
IA : i was just playing the 40min long version of Kun Faaya Kun and other songs where Rahman is just jamming, it takes you to a different state of trance. i was playing it at home and everyone was so into it.
WAIT! What? 40min version of Kun Faaya Kun? Please please please, is it possible to release it somewhere.
Imtiaz said he will talk to Rahman about it and will try his best to release it. Rahman fans, spread the good word and let’s try to get it out.
One issue lot of people had was with the character – the Rockstar. He doesn’t smoke, no drinks, no drugs, all clean. That’s not what Rockstars do, right? I am sure you must have thought about it and it’s the easiest thing to do.
IA : Many musicians whom i have seen from close quarters over the years, i have realised that the daaru-drug is not the reason. The intoxication part is not the substance, it’s the music, it’s the mood, it’s the state of being. That just becomes a good and easy way. So it was deliberate attempt to avoid it. To look at it from a different angle.
So love is his drug.
And everything else. That’s the only thing he has.
As beautifully written in this piece on Rockstar. May be the best piece. Not very long ago when the first trailer of Rockstar came out and as always, we, the ever curious souls were debating what to expect from the film, Kashyap sent a direct message on twitter saying that it’s this generation’s Pyaasa. As always, i took Kashyap’s words with a
pinch bowl of salt. But when i saw the film i realised what he meant. It’s mere samne se hata lo yeh duniya…tumhari hai tum hi sambhalo yeh duniya….yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai. But then, its already too late, you can do too little. As Jordan says in one of the scenes, mujhe nahi banna bada. aur kuch nahi hai mere paas. He doesn’t fit into the family, in their space or their profession. His friends don’t fit into his space anymore. He is just a label for them, a brand, a photograph to show off. Aha, lets get back to Imtiaz.
And his rage. Media? No issues. No politics.
He is a singer from Pitampura. He has no politics. He has no issues. Ganwar hai woh character. Music hi hai jo hai. But slowly he is losing it all. No emotional support. Family gone. Girl gone. Music not happening. He is breaking down. Sukoon nahi hai ab. Keeda hai andar. Woh kuch nahi samjhta hai jo uske aas-paas kya ho raha hai. Woh sab incidental hai.
And Tibet. ( Pls note i don’t remember the exact words. Whatever i can remember, trying to put it together. So kripya in quotes ki baal ki khaal na nikale.)
IA said that like many of us, he also belong to Mcleodganj Lovers Club. He is aware about the Tibet issue, the different viewpoints within the group, who is asking for what, their student politics, how it is related to Delhi politics.
IA : But when i went to Censor Board, i got to know the exact official stand of the Indian Government. So when they told me, i thought if we blur it, i had no clue that it will become such an issue. Because people didn’t notice there are bigger issues in that montage. There are Kashmiris there and some more people. I wanted to make it a bigger montage with others too as if the sadda haq song becomes an anthem for every kind of right that people are asking for. Also, there are Tibetan flags all over, people in the song. And i felt that it’s not related to the character directly, he is not endorsing anything, its the song that’s been used by everyone. Never realised it will turn into such. May be, if i hadn’t blurred it, nothing would have happened. But i have been getting so many messages from Tibet associations that they are happy to see it there. It conveys what’s there.
The other call which i was skeptical about was of bastardizing Shammi Kapoor’s memories. I was feeling very odd about it. Because when we started our promotions, during that time he died. I was so worried that we would be accused of using him. But thankfully that didn’t happen.
And the end. Not to endorse the sad ending, commercial compulsion.
IA : It was never any commercial compulsion, not at all. I felt that when she is gone, for him, he would like to have those memories.
But it would have been great if there was no happy montage when the credit roll starts. We could have come out of the theatre with that feeling of “incompleteness”, as described by Kashyap.
IA : May be, but that’s the way i felt. It’s their field now. Away from anything.
But i love those visuals when they are dancing madly with those bright back lights.
And what else?
Aha, there was more. Have put everything i could remember. Those of you who were there, please keep on adding in the comments section.
So after watching it twice, i feel that Rockstar’s biggest problem is it’s title. Because that sets up expectations of a different kind. In one of the script labs that i attended, remember Sriram Raghavan talking about the title of the film. That’s the first pitch where you sell the film to the audience. Creativity is a different beast but when the film is going to the audience, every small step matters. So this Rockstar is unlike others. Forget drinking and drugs, he doesn’t even go for sex when offered on a platter. Remember the scene with Aditi Rao. This Rockstar knows only love.
After watching the film, a friend wrote on his FB wall, Imtiaz bhai, aur bhi gham hai zamane me mohabbat ke siwa. But, i guess, Imtiaz would say, par us aashiq ka gham toh sirf mohabbat hi tha.
(PS – Those of you who are thinking that Kashyap could bribe us with movie tickets, discussion session with Imtiaz, rolls and biryani, well, don’t make us and our cinema look so cheap. You can try with us next time. And who better than a movie buff like Kashyap to understand it. Plus, this is not the first time that Kashyap has done something like this. He has done bigger and better things, and not only for us, just for one reason – cinema. We just don’t shout out from rooftop every time. And am sure this will not be the last time even though we love or hate his films😉 For some of you, it might be a completely impossible thing to understand. But then, as someone said, the only difference between life and cinema is that in cinema everything has to make sense, and in life, it doesn’t. )
(PS1 : This post is not to justify anything. Not to try to convert you. It either works for you or it doesn’t. And every stand is fine. We wanted a dialogue, an open discussion to hear the filmmaker and there are hardly few filmmakers who are open to criticism. And even lesser number of those whom we would love to hear. So, thanks to Imtiaz Ali and Anurag Kashyap.)
Pics : Sumit Purohit.