Posts Tagged ‘Rockstar’

She went to watch Aashiqui-2. She came back with pyaar, ishq aur mohabbat in her heart head. So over to Fatema Kagalwala who ponders over matters of the heart.

kagaz ke phool2

Insights don’t owe the source anything. Neither is observation obligated to its genesis. So while watching Aashiqui-2, when my mind began wandering with a momentum that had nothing to do with the emotional quotient of the film, it was time to set pen to paper. Or well, keyboard to MSWord. Why rein in a capricious mind that revels in intellectual masturbation?

There was a dulcet time in our movie-watching nostalgia when grand passions on screen were our personal emotional crescendos. Unattainable, intense romances that scarred us so bad, it was unbearable to live after that, yet a life like that was worth many without it. We could happily become the lovers on-screen and do everything they did with a resounding passion. We’d devour their legendary pain feverishly as though somehow it would redeem us of the pedestrian-ness of our lives and bring us instant immortality. The choices of the lovers were unquestionable, all was fair in love and war, and the world was at the feet of the two touched by Cupid. Nothing else mattered except that undying longing for the other. It wasn’t cute, it was disturbing in that lovely, intense way that morning dreams are sometimes, where you walk in deep darkness, with a red halo descending on you, towards the end of a tunnel that is showing the glimpse of dawn. You are alone in your anxiety yet clutching at hope, not knowing what the next moment brings but yearning to have it all. And then you wake up with a start and there is a weight on your chest like it is sometimes in morning dreams. You snuggle back but continue to savour that strange mix of dread and anticipation, having been there and not quite but longing to go back… That was love for us and what passion was always meant to be. Like Salim’s delirious love for Anarkali, Heer’s utter devotion to Ranjha, Vasu and Sapna’s inseparability or the sheer innocence of Raj and Rashmi’s bond. It wasn’t about how well the films were made as much as how deeply we aspired to that kind of love. And more importantly how we understood it. “Haif us chaar girah kapde ki kismet ghalib, jiski kismet mein hain aashiq ka gareban hona”. That is the kind of yearning love was made of…

Mughal-e-azam 1

Somehow, love was absolute for us. ‘Chhup na sakega ishq hamaara, chaaron taraf hai unka nazaara’. A non-negotiable reality. One for which anything, any action wasn’t too dramatic or no cost too much to pay. Letters written in blood drew painful sighs from us and parental opposition was villainy of the highest kind. The lover’s friends were Gods own angels and daresay if the lovers were to die, it was an irrevocable loss for us, as an audience. It was a scar that would refuse to heal, making the hero-heroines saints in our eyes. We’d love them for loving like that and more importantly having a love like that. Through them we’d have our bit of history-making and feel soul-satisfied for having ‘lived’ true to ourselves, even if it was for mere 3 hours, a dot on the terrain of our unbearably long drawn out lives.

But like a disheartening inevitability, love changed with time and so did love stories. It changed from love letters to running to catch truant trains to get together with your loved one. It changed from passion-drenched poetry to Geet-like non-stop chatter. From inner landscapes of Laila dying to know how her Majnu is doing out in the unforgiving desert to stunning locales where the yuppy boy helped the timid girl open up and ‘live-a little’. From longing to sex – that defining ache replaced by the inevitable first kiss that today is more ‘being-in-the-moment’ than drenched in the desire of true love. Compare the tender moment of Raj and Rashmi’s first kiss to any of our must-have liplocks today. Or the lovely, pubescent tension between Raja and Bobby. Or even Prem and Suman’s first sexually charged encounter in ‘Mere Rang Mein’ which seems corny to us today but speaks volumes of the philosophy that was sublime love back then. Back, when we devoured it with fatal sighs ourselves. But now love has ‘moved on’- as is the new-age term for growth and overcoming pain while leaving behind love’s scars – something we yearned to acquire in the past… it has gone from commitment that is default to questions that are endless. From a dream to a reality, that’s more often than not, a pain to suffer rather than an ideal to cherish. Imtiaz Ali made an entire ‘Love Aaj Kal’ defining more than just our attitude with one sweep. Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain, the question Jai spent an entire movie finding an answer to

maine pyar kiya

And try as we might to resist it, love has got urbanized too. And it doesn’t matter if our romantic films aren’t telling the story of the small-towner because today even he aspires to be as cool as the big city-guy except maybe in a spare Ishaqzaade which tries to reverse this but gets it all wrong.  And maybe that is why there is no Mohnish-Bahl type villain anymore to fight, nor well-meaning but opposing parents – there is nothing to rebel against because the enemy is the mindset itself. The self that doesn’t believe in love and hence lets everything else come in the way, itself included. And the more modern our love-stories get the more we love them. But the modern they get, less they are about love. Today, it’s got to be fun, we don’t wanna hurt, it isn’t cool, it’s boring and so regressive. Emotions are cheesy and poetry is melodrama. Tears are meaningless and only thought has value. Self-debilitating passions like Jordan’s are addictions to us because our new-age mindsets cannot comprehend living and dying for that one, inviolable love anymore. “Aah ko chahye ik umar asar honay tak, kaun jeeta hai teri zulf ke sar honay tak.

So today, when we watch Rahul sacrificing himself for his girl we cringe because it looks so passe. Sacrifice is now self-pity and I wanted to slap him and tell him, ‘You idiot, stop playing the helpless victim. If you really love her do what needs to be done instead. Change yourself!”.  Like Jackie did for his Radha in Hero. But had I seen Rahul do that, I’d have screamed so old school! Who changes themselves for their lovers these days? Easier to change partners no? When Arohi, deep in the throes of her grand passion, throws away a stunning career we raise eyebrows. I wanted to shake her up and tell her, ‘Girl, this guy is hopeless, don’t bother throwing everything away for him. This is not love, this self-sabotage. THINK.” Something I never felt like telling Gulabo when I first saw Pyaasa, or Shanti in Kaagaz ke Phool. I wept with them and for them. But with Arohi it is different and the difference isn’t Guru Dutt and Mohit Suri. We see her as ‘today’s’ girl and hence her actions are confounding because if we are no longer like Gulabo or Shanti how can she be? We see her yearning to be with her man but we don’t see any reason in her choice. We don’t see that she had no choice, and so we do what we did with Cocktail’s Meera – define her in hundred ways that have nothing to do with her.

DevdasOver the ages and with all the progress we pat our backs about, love has taken the biggest beating; the only bloodless casualty of our hard-bought modernity. Today, we seek reason, labeling passion as desperation and self-sacrifice as moping, whereas at one point it signified devotion, a concept synonymous to ‘bhakti’. Take for example Zaara’s choice to live almost nun-like in the memory of her long-lost Veer, now assumed dead. Or Samar Anand’s decision to court death if he couldn’t unite with his lover in this lifetime. We shift uncomfortably in our seats when we encounter characters like these not because these films are less than perfect, but because the emotion they espouse sound alien to us and we overlook the fabric of love that compels them to do what they do. That fabric is tattered beyond recognition today as we weave other weaves to drape our souls in. We don’t accept the old, more enduring weaves anymore even if we see them. Rockstar’s simmering emotions, which spoke right through all its flaws, refusing to be contained despite a choppy flow exposed our vulnerabilities with a rare emotional intelligence but we couldn’t understand it. We won’t be getting a more honest or more intense love story for a long time after this but maybe that’s inevitable. We see what we are and we are no longer what we used to be when Salim declared his ardour with flourishing poetry to a trembling Anarkali dying to fall into his arms. That, may also have been part of the difference between Dilip Kumar’s Devdas and Shahrukh Khan’s.

But the makers are draped in the same cloth, one that is cut out of an unwieldy carpet cloth, so we don’t make love stories anymore either. We simply don’t know how to. We are bored of Shahrukh’s outstretched arms in which we wished to die 20 yrs back and we see red when we see women singularly committed to their loves. We yawn when we see love-at-first sight sort of chemistry and go blank should any character even speak of laying down their lives for the other. Our makers are the same as us, they don’t get it either and so we have half-baked stuff like Aashiqui-2. It isn’t anything to write home about but I still wonder, if it (or JTHJ or even Ishaqzaade for that matter) was made 20 yrs back would it be more watchable just because we, as an audience and as people were more in love with love then, than we are today?

Fatema Kagalwala

P.S.: At the end of this I caught myself telling myself ‘Guzra hua zamana aata nahi dobara’… and I suddenly remember this beauty is from “Shirin Farhad”. What irony… Sigh…

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And the “2011 Rewind” series continues. You can read our previous posts here (honest movie posters), here (Bollywood songs we looped), here (Non-bollywood hits of the year), here (exciting moments at the movies),  and here (films which dared to bend the rules). Also, we are scooping some of the best year-end lists here.

Like last year, in this post we have tried to dissect what we learnt at the movies  this year – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the questions that baffled us through out the year.

20 Things We Learnt At The Movies

1. Zoya Akhtar is a better filmmaker than Farhan Akhtar. 2/2 > 1.5/4. LBC + ZNMD > DCH + 1/2Lakshya

2. Nikhil Advani scored a dud hattrick and proved again that KHNH was indeed directed by Karan Johar. Patiala House.

3. Big B can’t sell tickets anymore. He is hit on the small screen but is a flop on the big screen.  KBC. BHTB. Even when he was in his best commercial avatar,  the excuses given were many – low budget, recovery before release, satellite rights.

4. Creative collaboration with spouses and family is not a bright idea. Dhobi Ghat. TGIYB. Mausam. Tere Mere Phere. Love Breakups Zindagi.

5. B for Bachchan. B for Bhagnani. B for Box Office. But you never know which way the last B will swing. Even Jackie B’s film can score better than Abhishek B’s film. Faltu. Game.

6. Tusshar Kapoor still can’t act. He was the odd man out even when the films scored – either critically acclaimed Shor In The City or commercial hit The Dirty Picture. His pillow dance in TDP can give nightmare to anyone.

Dear Ekta Kapoor, let him go. Even Aditya Chopra has given up on Uday Chopra.

7. You can’t calculate the target audience and then make films according to it. Otherwise Y Films’ Luv Ka The End and Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge would have been blockbusters. Pre-release claim – 60% (?) of theatre going audience is youth. Post-release – we recovered our costs.

8. Every filmmaker has one great film in him/her. Some people make their debut with that one. Tigmanshu Dhulia is done with it. Stop expecting. Shagird. Sahid Biwi Aur Gangster.

9. When it comes to Ramu, camera and dildo have the same purpose, interest and area of specialisation. NALS.

10. Prakash Jha creates political events but has no clue about political films now. Raajneeti was a joke,  and we are not sure how to describe the awful Aarakshan.

11. Imtiaz Ali will keep churning out films based on his single template of romance. He knows it but doesn’t  know what to do about it. Rockstar.

12. Himesh Reshammiya is not going to give up so soon. Let’s all pray. Damadamm! In 2012 he has more.

13. Dad + Sons > Mom + Daughter. Deols. Yamla Pagla Deewana. Tell Me O Kkhuda.

14. Remake is NOT a hit formula. Soundtrack was a mess.

15. We don’t need superheroes. Our heroes can do everything. Ra One. Zokkomon.

16. Bhai-porn is here to stay. We are still not bored. Ready. Bodyguard.

17. Indian Mens Are Hot. Courtesy Anil Kapoor. Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol.

18. Sex and Shah Rukh Khan still sells. Ra One. Murder 2. Don 2. The Dirty Picture.

19. When an actress gets into film production, it means her career is officially over. Lara Dutta. Dia Mirza, Ameesha Patel. Shilpa Shetty. 

20. We still haven’t lost A R Rahman to the west. When he delivers, he is the best. Rockstar.

10 Unanswered Questions

1. Will the real Abhinay Deo please stand up? Which one to trust – Game or Delhi Belly?

2. Who read the script of Game and approved it?

3. Who thought about changing Mimoh’s name to Mahakshay?

4. In which camera do you have the option of in-built subtitles? And for ghosts? Ragini MMS.

5. Who added extra ‘B’ in Bbuddah, extra ‘K’ In Tell Me O Kkhuda, extra ‘A’s in Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge and what purpose they served?

6. Is his name Bumpy? Just Bumpy? Really? Luv Ka The End.

7. In how many more films will we see Vinay Pathak in lead role and doing the same bumbling fool act? This year he had five releases. Yes, five!

8. Can G. One fly? If so, why does he need to travel in a plane? Ra One.

9. Always Kabhi Kabhi – Who is the brain behind the weirdest title of the year?

10. Who is Nagesh Kukunoor?

And what’s your list? What all you discovered or learnt at the movies this year? And what all remains unanswered? Do let us know in comments.

This has been a bad terrible year for hindi films. Forget ten, if you can spot even five great very good films this year, you should consider yourself lucky. Try, see how many you can count. And so, we are skipping the list of top films and are counting the exciting moments at the movies this year. Moments that you remembered long after the movie was over, discussion and dissection was done with, and they defined the films. In no particular order.

1. Opening Credit (Stanley Ka Dabba) – I have still not been able to understand why we don’t give much importance to credit roll in bollywood. It’s an ART. And a difficult one too. Click here to check out some of the best credit rolls. And this is where Stanley Ka Dabba scored over all other films. The film was an indie experiment and its delicious opening credit was like a Pixar short film. Done by one of India’s best animator Gitanjali Rao, it sets the perfect mood for the story to follow.

 

2. Monologue (Pyaar Ka Punchnama) – When the lead actor doesn’t get to kick the villains, he always gets a monologue. But if the actor is a newcomer, who would dare to give him a monologue? And 5minute long monologue? That’s rare, and if it manages to hold your attention, that’s rarest of rare. I have been accused of endorsing a misogynist and myopic view of the world because i like the film 1st half of the film. It’s a long debate but you can click here to read Paromita Vohra’s observation which i agree with. It was a small film with no names, no stars, all newcomers, but the film managed to survive on its own, and everyone who liked the film, talked about two factors – Liquid and the monologue. You can call it brutally sexist but it’s fun too.

3. Slo-mo sequence (Shaitan) – Who would have imagined that a shootout sequence on a classic song would make such a deadly combo. If there is an award for the most imaginative sequence of the year, give it to Bejoy Nambiar for Shaitan. Blazing guns, characters running and jumping around, bodies piling up, blood and gore making the screen red, and Suman Shridhar belting out a classic song, i was watching it wide-eyed. Killing never looked so cool on desi screen.

 

4. Cunnilingus (Delhi Belly) – Not sure if it re-defined bollywood’s “cool quotient” or “empowerment of mahila mandal” in anyway, but it was surely a welcome change. In a year when bollywood re-discovered machismo by doing zimby zouth remakes and stunts, a hindi film hero going down to pleasure his girlfriend was refreshing. It wasn’t presented as a big deal, it was just matter of fact. As casual as the hero getting a hard-on. Even that’s rare in Bollywood. Isn’t it?

5. The Girl On The Bike who smooched (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) – Ten years ago if Switzerland was the desi honeymoon fantasy (blame it on YRF), now it’s Katrina Kaif. How else do you explain her success? Just item numbers can’t take you so far.  Zoya Akhtar put her on a bike to chase the hero, grab him and plant a kiss. Was it easy because it was Spain? Or was it because it’s written and directed by a woman filmmaker? Whatever it is, a machine between the legs and a kiss on the lips is much better than dancing in the rain.

6. That Girl On the Phone (That Girl In Yellow Boots) – Pooja Swaroop. Going by the screenwriting rules, telephone conversations are generally boring. But she played a character whose only job was to be on the phone throughout the film. A bit of tease, a dose of humour, a chuckle, she blabbered her away to glory. Interestingly, we never get to see or hear the person on the other side of the line. Well, because there was none. That’s acting. And this was a masterstroke, as delightful as the scene where both characters (Kalki and Pooja) are on the phone at the same time, on two sides of the wall, in the same scene and talking to two different persons.

7. S and M (7 Khoon Maaf) – We got a hint of it in Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Vishal decided to go full throttle with the love story between Irrfan and Priyanka’s character. Benign by day, beast by night, the shayar who loved S&M – is there anything that Irrfan Khan can’t portray and make it look convincing?

8. Tum Ho (Rockstar) – (SPOILER) I had no clue that so many people were confused about the end of Rockstar. The song Tum ho left them clueless – was she dead or wasn’t she? At first instance it looked like a compromise for commercial sake, but once you hear the song carefully, you know it isn’t. As the song played and the credits rolled, i came out of the theater with the visuals of the last song stuck in my head. This was Rumi in Rahman’s song.

 

9. Booby Balan (The Dirty Picture) – Another monologue. And I don’t remember the last time i was so distracted during a monologue. In the film, there’s a scene where Silk (Vidya Balan) is given an award and then she delivers her acceptance speech. The speech in which she states her moral stand and insults the rest of the industry which is full of people with double standards. But even in that speech, all you remember is booby Balan. Someone should have told us to just hear the scene. Because it turned out to be funny in a weird way, you are hearing something and seeing something else.

10. Videokaaran – I don’t remember watching anything more exciting than Videokaaran this year. This was the best discovery of the year. Varun Grover found it, saw it, loved it and recco-ed it to us. Click here to read Jai Arjun Singh’s column on the film which was published in the Caravan magazine recently.

11. Ek Kwhater Bodvka (Tanu Weds Manu) – This one is for the cheap thrills. She famously said “you Besshterd”. Not once but in almost every film of hers. And we thought that’s the best that we can get from Kangana Ranaut. But she delivered something better in Tanu Weds Manu – ek kwhater bodvka.

What got you excited this year? Do let us know in the comments.

The year is about to end and since the world is busy making the top ten lists, we thought why should we be left behind. We are scooping all the best lists from across the world here.  Or just scroll down and see under the tab “what we are reading”. We are starting our 2011 Rewind series with a post on the songs/albums of the year.

There are hit songs, there are chartbusters, flop songs, cult hits and then there are the songs which we played in non-stop loop. Sometimes for few hours, days, weeks or even months.  And it’s not easy to dissect why a specific song got you hooked so much. Read on to see if you agree, disagree and if you played the same songs in non-stop loop this year. In no particular order.

1. Bekaran (7 Khoon Maaf)Ek baar toh yun hoga, thoda sa sukoon hoga. Na dil me kasak hogi, na sar pe junoon hoga...It started with these four lines.  And i was hooked.  And it ended with anothem gem of a word ‘Lillah’, which slowly became a part of our dictionary. At a time when twitter asks you to be smarter and put everything in just 140 characters, you can say so much in just one word -“Lilaah“. With Vishal Bharadwaj’s voice and Gulzar’s words, it was love, longing and goose flesh all over.

Extra Playlist – Tere Liye in Suresh Wadekar’s voice and the haunting Yeshu in Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice. Well, play the entire album in non-stop loop.

2. Kun Faaya Kun/ Dichotomy Of Fame (Rockstar) – The name is A R Rahman. I am not sure where and how to start. Will say the same thing which i keep on saying – if i ever convert to Islam, blame it on Rahman. If Piya haji ali (Fiza), Khwaja mere khawaja (Jodha Akbar) and Maula maula (Delhi 6) weren’t enough, he added one more to the list – Kun Faaya Kun and this one i played in non-stop loop for days. Though Kun faaya was the starting point, the album had another beautifully arranged instrumental piece –  dichtomy of fame. A blend of shehnai and guitar created a haunting mood.

Extra Playlist – Play the entire album.

3. Yun Hi (Tanu Weds Manu) – I discovered the film and the album quite late. Realised  that this is the best musical debut of the year – Krsna (music director) and Raj Shekhar (Lyrics). The laidback charm in Mohit Chauhan’s voice almost works everytime but there is a danger of getting repetitive. Krsna and Raj Shekhar made sure that they didn’t fall in the trap.

…Kitne dafe hairaan hua, main ye sochke,
Uthti hai ibadat ki khushbuyein kyun mere ishq se,
Jaise hi mere honth ye choo lete hai tere naam ko,
Lagey ke sajda kiya, kehke tujhe shabad ke bol do,
Ye khudai chodke,
Fir aaja tu zamin pe,
Aur jaa na kahin,
tu saath reha ja mere,
Kitne dafe dil ne kaha,
Dil ki suni kitne dafe…

Extra Playlist – Rangrez, Piya, Manu Bhaiya, Jugni and Saddi Galli. Aha, another album where you can play all the songs .

4. Hawa Hawai (Shaitan) – Like this music review of Shaitan, almost all other reviews missed this Hawa Hawai remix. Because strangely, the song wasn’t available for download. So all those who downloaded the music and reviewed it, had no clue about it. The twang in Suman Shridhar’s vocals and Mikey McCleary’s arrangement added a new zing to the song.

Though after the film’s release, it was a completely different story. Everyone was just googling Khoya Khoya Chand sequence and if you have seen the film, the reason is quite obvious.

5. Saigal Blues (Delhi Belly)  – Though Mikey’s work got noticed, another superb effort by Ram Sampath went completely unnoticed. Chetan Shashital, the man who can do wonders with his voice, went behind the mike to create the Saigal Blues.

…is dard ki na hai dawai…..majnu hai ya tu hai kasai..

Extra Playlist – Switty switty, Ja ja ja chudail

6. Senorita (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)  – This album is Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s only saving grace in recent times. The song captures the casual, boisterous and celebratory mood of the Spain and Tomatino fest so well. And the use of  untrained voices of Farhan, Hrithik and Abhay made it look natural and completely  impromtu. Add to that, those perfect pauses.

Extra playlist – Khwaboon ke parindey

7. Saibo (Shor In The City) – This came as a complete surprise. The song and the film. Shreya Ghoshal’s melliflous voice and Tochi Raina’s husky vocals leaves a powerful impact. Music – Sachin-Jigar. Lyrics – Sameer/ Priya Panchal.

Extra Playlist – Karma is a bitch,

8. Main Ek Bhanwara (Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster) – Music by Amit Sial and sung by Shail Hada,  this one is an under-rated gem. A melodious track, the song instantly takes you back to the time when dhoom-dhaam noise wasn’t considered music.

9. Hona Tha Pyaar (Bol) – Purists still don’t believe that Atif Aslam can sing. But you can’t dismiss his voice so easily. There is something charming about the way he sings, though besura most of the times. This song is again one of the least played songs of the year. Heard it on FM radio first and then found out that the song is from the Pakisani film Bol.

10. Uh-ho Uh-Ho (Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge) – This album marked the bollywood debut of musician Raghu Dixit. As if the film’s title isn’t weird enough, this track is called uh-ho uh-ho. I never expected anything good from Y Films but this peppy number sung by Ash King and Shilpa Rao hooked me instantly.

11. Ban Gaya Kutta (Pyaar Ka Punchnama) – I have never laughed so much during a song. Had to play the song few times to get the lyrics and they smartly play with some of the words. Music and lyrics by Luv Ranjan and its sung by Mika.

What am i missing? What’s your non-stop loop playlist? Do let us know in the comments.

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 duniyatumhari 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.)

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Pics : Sumit Purohit.

Rockstar is Imtiaz Ali’s fourth film after Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. Thanks to some good friends, I had some idea about the story of the film long before it was announced because Imtiaz has been trying to make the film since last few years. But after SNT, JWM and LAK, what i was more curious to know was that if Imtiaz will follow the same template of his previous three films. And the template is…

Cool and confused lovers will travel a (physical) distance to realise their true love.

Now try SNT, JWM and LAK. Cool boy will meet cool girl. They will be easy to like and good fun to hang out with. They will become friends. They fall in love but are not sure about it. They will be confused and take a wrong step which will lead to some kind of travel and they will finally meet.

Add marriage to it and you are done. With marriage, Ali takes one step at a time. SNT – the marriage talk is on. JWM – She is about to get married. Almost. LAK – She gets married. SPOILER Rockstar – She gets married and makes love with the boyfriend. SPOILER Ends. Next is what? Extra-marital affair? Let’s wait and watch.

In Rockstar, Imtiaz Ali follows the same template. But as the name suggests, it’s also about music. So what works and what doesn’t? Opting for the easy route by writing it in points.

– The film entirely belongs to Ranbir Kapoor. Hand him all the awards for the Best Actor this year. It has been terrible year anyway. And nobody comes close to him. He is such a delight on screen, makes everything look so natural.

– And it would have been a different game without Rahman. After Ranbir, the film belongs to him. It’s easily the best album of the year and i wanted to see more of songs in the film.

– When it comes to rom-com, writer Imtiaz knows his stuff really well. The scenes, the dialogues, the moments – he knows how to write and handle them. How about a rom-com masterclass, Mr Ali?

– Nargis Fakhri. Great screen presence, gorgeous to look at but as soon as she opens her mouth, it’s all over. Terrible casting. Was it just a silent audition for her? If it was someone else, the film could have gone to another level.

– The film suffers from the same curse which most desi films have : the curse of 2nd half. It seems Imtiaz had no clue what to do in the second half. Is there a way we can edit out “interval” from our films? That seems to be the main culprit.

SPOILER

–  Going by conventional mainstream rule book, the film has a sad ending. But looks like we have become so scared of the box office monster that even when the story is going in that direction, we are finding it difficult to endorse it on screen.

SPOILER Ends.

– Kun faaya fun gave me goose flesh. It’s not the way it’s shot, it’s the moment it captures.

– Shammi saab, such a graceful presence. Wish the ‘dichotomy of fame’ track had only him and Ranbir without jumping over to other scenes. Even when he is playing the shehnai, you can see that he is making the efforts to make it look real. He is just not faking it.

– They really blurred the “Tibet” part in the “Free Tibet” banner. That’s disgusting. What is an artist without his/her politics? And this is such a far fetched endorsement. Weird because they shot the song in Dharmshala with Tibetans who are waving their flags and banners and are on stage with Ranbir.

– The narrative style is not linear. Almost every second sequence moves between past, present and future. Am not sure if it helped the narrative in anyway. Need to watch it again. Also, was it done in the edit? Or Imtiaz thought about it while writing the script? Any inputs will be helpful.

Muazzam Beg has an opening story credit along with Imtiaz Ali.

– Was damn disappointed with Kumud Mishra in That Girl In Yellow Boots. He has compensated for everything in the film. Also, can we see more of Aditi Rao Hydari?

– What else? Aha, Rumi saab gets proper credit in the film.

Go, watch it and do share your thoughts. Am sure this film is going to divide the house completely.

If you want music on your twitter timeline, you must follow Rohit. And if you are lucky enough, your mailbox will be flooded with some evergreen goodies. So when it came to a post on the most awaited album of the year, who better than him to do the job.

With Couples Retreat and some bits here and there, i thought we have lost Rahman. And lost him for Retreat? That’s worst. But it seems he is back and how. As one of the song goes, i wanna sing O nadaan parindey ghar aa ja..for him. Hope we get more. Read On…

In the times of ‘gone with the click’ I cannot remember the last time when the curiosity of a music score being released was even half as it was for the soundtrack of ‘Rockstar’. Guilt is my witness as I shamelessly searched all the ‘shady’ sites to catch hold of this album because right from the first promo we could all smell ‘Rahman on the rocks’ soundtrack. Does it live up to the hype? (Yes T-series, we are talking about the artificial hype you created…Boo you for that by the way!)

1. Phir se udd chala – A folkish chorus of girls humming a tune which you associate with hill stations normally, welcomes you to this song with Mohit Chauhan taking over almost instantly. A song set up with a nomadic feel and the usually accused of being ‘Instrument heavy’ AR Rahman gives us a flavor of how can he blend the music in the background. The first 2 minutes successfully create the anticipation of the song taking off and Mohit chauhan doesnt disappoint throughout. A very positive song.

2. Jo bhi main – Guitar…Yes ‘THAT’guitar starts off with Mohit chauhan throwing his voice melodiously. If you hear attentively you will find the chorus (which is brilliant throughout the album) is set in a very theatrical and live concert style. It doesn’t give you the feeling that a few back up vocals were called in the studio to ‘sing’ (like the ones in the soundtrack of Rock On). The music setting is mostly soft and almost all the ‘hysterics’ are done by a wonderful mix of the ‘crowd’ and Mohit chauhan. Meaning wise, a very deep song especially the part where lyricist has revealed that all of us are just mirrors….I just cannot get the beautiful and very theatrical crowd effect of the song. Two thumbs up!

 3. Kateya karoon – The punjabi folk sounds welcome you to a bubbly song mixed with good bass to begin with and then the characteristic (and almost continuous ‘hoye hoye’ chorus). Harshdeep Kaur has sung this song in a very ‘Jaspinder Narula’ style by occassionally making her voice heavy. A generally happy song. Personally speaking, It did not touch me at all because I felt that the song just couldn’t take off. The song iis just under 4 minutes so it just comes and goes.

4. Kun Faya Kun – AR Rahman starts and is accompanied by a very ‘dargah like’ harmonium and Javed ali joins. The surreal atmosphere of this composition is very infectious and you would definitely end up listening to it more than once. The ‘beautiful romance between ‘claps’ and a slow guitar is ‘oh so very Rahman’. Javed Ali in between calls out to the power that be. Mohit Chauhan joins the party and gives the song his soul. The part where Mohit is reciting words with a very faint harmonium is what makes this song very very special. The near jugalbandi feel towards the end of the song is surreal and hasn’t been heard for a long time. A very pure song. If you feel it reminds you of ‘Khwaja mere khwaja’ then the purpose of the song is accomplished because when you call out to ‘Maula’, it doesn’t matter if someone else has remembered ‘Maula’ before you. Again, the way the song ends is very very theatrical with AR Rahman leaving a haunting echo.

5. Sheher mein – Karthik and Mohit – Not a melodious earth shattering song but a funny song largely thanks to the overall sound of it. The ‘composer’ is very vocal about how should Mohit Chauhan sing this song to ensure that the song is made ‘caller tune’ and is a ‘hit in UP and Bihar’. Mohit by the way croons it well. This will be a treat to see in the film. Clearly the composer (in the film) wants Mohit chauhan to stick to the ‘hit formula’ and not ‘innovate’…but does Mohit listen? Melodiously NO!

6. Hawa Hawa – Acoordion, voilin and a catchy chorus start this retro feel song with somewhat Arabian undertone. A good song because of the way Mohit chauhan has sung it. Hear it attentively and you can almost feel Mohit chauhan dancing in the studio while singing this. The musical setting you might argue is very ‘Zubeida’ like but then hear it and you will hear words like ‘waat’ and ‘bhajiya’! Towards the end you do feel that may be the composer is trying a little too hard. Might grow when the film hits the theatres. (Mohit ‘Meows’ in this song by the way) : )

7. Aur Ho – Mohit and Alma ferovic – A sinking feeling. Thats what the beginning tells you and Mohit chauhan confirms it with very powerful lyrics. The song has a ‘satrangi rey’ (Dil Se) feeling. The instruments are usually repeating short notes to create an eerie feeling. Mohit chauhan at times fades and then comes back almost dreamy/drugged with Alma in the background crying out. A song perfect for theatre performances depicting pain. The song really ends on a high. beautifully.

8. Nadaan Parindey – AR Rahman and Mohit chauhan – Carol like start with electric guitar. The song starts with Rahman requesting one to come back. The song has a very pop feel to it (Ok Ok I will use ‘pop’ and ‘rock’ interchangeably). The words like ‘Har karam ke kapdey mailey hain’ means that the song is advocating peace. Mohit chauhan almost cries out the fact that you will come back home no matter which road you take. The ‘chun chun khaiyoo maas’ (lines from Kabir I guess) are a misfit in the song so I did not like them at all. You might.

9. Tum Ko -Kavita subramaniam – From the start of this song, I got a feeling that this song is an old Rahman song. I hate to mention this but this came across as the weakest song of the album. Although the use of sarangi and tabla is very ghazal like, the song didn’t touch me at all. May be it was because of the fact that the other songs didn’t have me believe that there could be a ghazal like composition woven in between.

10. Sadda Haq – Yes…HELLL YES! Orianthi starts the guitar and tells you quite clearly that this would be the song that will result in the demise of a lot of woofers and speakers all over the world. Kicking ass from the beginning Mohit recites some lines which are very ‘rebellion’ in nature and then the song reaches the HIGH when Mohit along with the chorus cries out ‘Sadddaaaa Haq’. Trust me, when someone sings from heart, it reaches your heart and this so called SCREAM does exactly that. Cannot recall a song in the near future which shakes you up (in a good way) as this one. I could write an entire post on this song but I will stop. Do check this song out even if you feel it is a rip off from here there or somewhere (because I know such tribe exists who cannot accept a good thing from INDIAN composer you see).

Special mention – Would have been too easy for Imtiaz ali and AR Rahman to have opted for Ranbir’s voice at the beginning of the song but thankfully they have used Mohit chauhan. Keeps the wholesome feel alive to the song.

11. Tum ho – Mohit and Suzanne – Romantica! Aha! Suzanne shines in the background (like always) and Mohit chauhan does a vocal waltz around that feeling of someone’s presence and how he has lost himself and gained love. The song lasts for about 5 mins or so but ends leaving you wanting for more. Strange isn’t it? The tune is more or less similar to ‘Tum Ko’ mentioned above. I am yet to make an opinion about the song. Any help on this would be much appreciated 🙂

12. Tango for Taj – Here is a tango piece which is very old piece and signature Rahman. A typical song which if treated well will be a visual treat. The constant piano and the claps are just too good too be in a piece which just lasts for about 3 minutes. Two thumbs up.

13. The Dichotomy of Fame – Shehnai! oh how i have missed you after ‘Swades’ song. After opening this piece beautifully the shehnai mixes well with the rest of the instruments, yet enjoys a ‘lead vocal’ status. Just too good a piece to miss.

14. The Meeting Place – Ranbir Kapoor says one sentence and vanishes…leaving you with much curiosity about the film. No, I won’t write it here. Go discover yourself. In a way, this piece might give away the ending of this film. Or may be not. Spoiler? Let’s see.

This album is undoubtedly a coming of age experience for Mohit Chauhan because he has shouted and romanced at many different levels. A special mention for the master lyricist Irshad Kamil. It’s almost taken for granted that a rock album will have a ‘woofer-phaadu’ music but the character of the songs come out when the lyrics are powerful and it is certainly the case here.

AR Rahman and Imtiaz Ali have gone to the press stating that they have invested a lot of time in this album and when you hear it, you feel they might be right!

Rating – 4/5

So which track are you playing in loop?

(PS – For the complete credit list of the songs, click here.)

(PS1 – For more posts by Rohwit, you can check his blog almostareview.wordpress.com )