A. R. Rahman

Review: Airlift’s screenplay never takes off!

In one of the only emotional scenes of this movie, a very old Punjabi grandfather character (played wonderfully by the veteran Indian TV actor Arun Bali) speaks of the horrors of getting uprooted from what you once considered home, and being forced to leave everything behind. This scene is crucial in establishing why a certain Mr. Kohli (Kumud Mishra), a paper-pusher in the External Affairs Ministry Office, turns into one of the key figures in enabling the success of an impossible rescue mission. It is sad then, that Airlift, a movie based on true events of world’s largest civil evacuation could not evoke any further emotional hooks for me as a movie audience to remain invested or engaged. And yes, it even has a mini segment where we see the tricolour being hoisted and K.K. singing Vande Mataram. And even then, I did not participate in that moment of triumph. THAT is the biggest failure of the movie.

I am not for a single bit, attempting to undermine the real heroism of the true heroes who were involved in this rescue mission of 170,000+ Indians from war-torn Kuwait. I am in fact saying that a story as incredible as this deserves a much better movie than what it got in Airlift. It is a classic case of an ambitious director meeting an “out-of-their-league” story and getting overwhelmed by it. Writer-Director Raja Krishna Menon along with his team of writers have put up a screenplay which can be the equivalent of a college play on opening rehearsal day, with a very rough first draft of a scribble on a tissue paper acting as a script.

Airlift_Poster - INTERNATIONAL

 

The narrative tries to introduce several characters into the plot – from the ever so grouchy George Kutty (Prakash Belawadi – Madras Cafe, Talvar), the unnecessary Mr. Poonawala, and the somewhat simmering and confusing love story of Ibrahim (Purab Kohli – Rock On). But none of them ever have a sub plot as such. There is no distinct payback that we as audience get from these plot threads. The trunk of the story tree is the man who is front and centre in the poster – Akshay Kumar as Ranjit Katiyal. He is the Ship Captain who is reluctantly put in charge of the fate of 170,000+ Indians. And Akshay handles it as best as he can. But the screenplay again fails him.

In one of the scenes, Akshay’s wife played by Nimrat Kaur convinces him to go to the docks – because he is a negotiator. And there is hardly anything following that scene which highlights this very characteristic of Mr. Katiyal. On the other hand, there is a scene where Akshay goes gung-ho and attacks a bunch of check-point gunned security guards, and even manages to threaten them. It seemed like Katiyal was playing Akshay for that moment, and not the other way around. We are told of Rajiv Katiyal being a businessman through and through. But in the face of such hardships, there is hardly any conversation in the movie that is scripted as one that demanded special skills. The Iraqi General played by Inaamulhaq (Filmistan), is layered in poor and generic Middle Eastern accent, and is a character written as a caricature. And hence, there is no sense of threat or perhaps, we have all seen this done way better in many other movies and TV shows.

The female lead in the movie, Nimrat Kaur seemed like one of the stereotypical naggy Indian housewife for most of the movie. She’s pretty glammed up for a woman stuck in war-torn Kuwait. But I assume, the writers felt compelled to give her something more than just that. And by virtue of that, she gets one scene which showcases glimpses of the actor we liked so much in The Lunch Box.

But my biggest complaint from this movie, is that being titled Airlift, the movie spends a total of only 2 minutes speedily narrating about the mega-operation taken up by Air India who managed to “airlift” the 170,000+ Indians from Jordan. Perhaps, that wasn’t as exciting on paper as Akshay punching dudes in sandy desert. And let’s not even get started on that cringe-worthy remix of Khaled’s Didi .

This one is not even for a lazy matinee.

 

Airlift is directed by Raja Krishna Menon and stars Akshay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur (Homeland, The Lunchbox).

The film releases internationally on on the 22nd of January in the UK.

You can find more of Sujoy’s work on BollyPop or OneKnightStands or Follow him on twitter on @9e3K.

 

 

 

AR Rahman Greatest Hits at the O2 Review

NickyKelvin-0112For India’s Independence Day AR Rahman, held a concert at the O2 Arena to a sold out crowd, accompanied by an orchestra of musicians, singers, table players and qawwalli’s.

The concert was dubbed as « The Greatest Hits of AR Rahman » and whilst driving to the venue, it made me ponder: how can one compound Rahman’s oeuvre into a single sitting?

His musical portfolio is ginormous! In the 23 years of his career, he’s composed over 100 soundtracks for the various regions of Indian cinema, as well as performed stage shows, private albums and dabbled in Hollywood, (If winning an Bafta, a golden Globe,2 Grammies and 2 Academy Award can be called dabbling) whilst never compromising on the quality of his music. (Take that Dr Dre!)

And all this whilst jumping from one genre to the other and mastering pretty much all of them. (I’m a hip hop head and his mastery of rap has been weak since Patti Rap)

When Rahman debuted on the Bollywood scene in the 90’s, Hindi audiences had heard murmurings of some of his offerings down South with Roja and Kadalan (Hum Se Hai Muqabla) dominating video charts.

The music scene was much more fractured and isolated in the 90’s and there wasn’t ever a need to importing talent from another region. If movie producer or music director liked a tune, they just copy pasted wholesale and had the son resung by another local singer and no question was asked. This even happened to some of AR Rahman’s early songs, there were at least 4 Hindi versions of Muqabla floating on the airwaves at the same time.

But Rahman’s talent was such that his unique voice could not be denied. His music has always felt very personal, making the audience feel a sense of misplaced ownership. But sitting in a jam packed arena, I understood, I wasn’t the only one that felt this ownership over « my» AR Rahman. AR, like any musician, understands that his music is not his anymore once it is released to the airwaves but belongs to a collective that needs to be fed.

He tried to deliver on the expectations his audience has with him, he managed to partly on the promise despite some production mistakes.

Javed Ali started things off with a very soulful rendition of Delhi 6’s Arziyan, which seemed to be a prayer to kick off the concert as well as salutation to the audience.

Arziyan was followed up with a selection of classic hits like Chinna Chinna Aasai /Choti si Aasha (Roja), which was in 2 different languages sung by the wonderful and ever present Jonita Ghandi, the seemingly demure Shashaa Kiran Tirupati and the vastly under-used vocal powerhouse that is Neeti Mohan.

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Tu Hi Re was the sole pick from the Bombay soundtrack (I was hoping for so many more like Satrangi Re of Jiya Jale but alas) by Haricharan who managed to command the song in 2 different languages versions – whilst doing a pretty good Hariharan impression. Then came Dil Se’s title track sung by AR himself as he duelled Natalie Klouda, his wonderful violinist on the piano, which was an amazing spectacle.

The next half hour block was mostly from AR Rahman’s South Indian and private albums, which unfortunately for most of the Hindi audience in attendance felt like watching other people have lots of fun whilst they had a glazed expression over their eyes. Some audience members even started grumbling quite vocally and this might have been the only dip in the otherwise amazing set.

Some of the production choices were very odd, the first half ended abruptly and there was confusion if there was going to be an interval or not, the audience was left to their own devices, which is never a great choice with a South Asian audience. This happened again at the end of the show, there was a definite lack of cues and the band just disappeared without an encore.

The confusing interval ended up lasting only a couple of minutes, the curtain suddenly went up and AR and Jaaved Ali had donned their qawalli hats and tablas for the double whammy of the hypnotizing Kun Faya Kun (Rockstar) and soulful Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar). Unfortunately some the magic of the Sufi segment was broken by the part of the audience hurriedly running back to their seats with still very wet hands from their bathroom visits.

  Kun Faya Kun Kun (Rockstar): The Qawalli interlude at #ARRahmanAtTheO2   A video posted by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar): Qawalli interlude #ARRahmanAtTheO2 @TheO2 #TheO2

A video posted by asimburney (@asimburney) on

Always being a trailblazer, AR wanted to showcase a movement based instrument but technology failed the crew twice, forcing AR to climb back behind his piano and nervously entertain the audience with impromptu tunes. When they managed to get the tech to work, you realized it was supposed to be background vocalist IsshrathQuadhre time into the limelight but unfortunately for her and the audience the moment had passed.

From then on there was a clear course correction and the hits and performances were non stop, Neeti Mohan brought energy with her RE RE segment (Rangeela Re and Jiya Re) but overall she felt a bit underused compared to Jonita who pretty much dominated the pre-interval as well as jiggy-ing in group songs and some Hindi too. Jonita is a wonderful stage presence and very versatile, definitely one to look out for. Same for Karthik who was an absolute crowd favourite amongst the South Indian and clearly a born showman but only made a fleeting appearance and didn’t sing any Hindi songs. NickyKelvin-8667

During the different sets, AR Rahman would change get ups, some with hilarious combinations like a sparkly hat paired with a biker jacket or in the case of the bluesy Jaane Tu Ya Jaane na, he wore sunglasses like he was Ray Charles from Chennai, luckily the music always delivered and the powerful voice and jazz scatting of background vocalist Annette Philip’s really stepped up to the plate.

The show provided every member of AR Rahman’s band to shine too. The ones that really stuck out were Naveen Kumar’s flute during the Roja interlude, Mohini Dey’s bass (a 19 year old prodigy part of AR Rahman’s band NAFS who is also rumoured to be collaborating with Quincy Jones), Ranjit Barot’s drum and Keba Jeremiah Arul’s guitar solo’s during a very rocky rendition of Nadaan Parindey.

Ultimately the show couldn’t possibly have delivered on every song that a demanding fan might want of AR Rahman’s as we are a spoiled bunch now and even if combining sets from all languages didn’t always works as well as one would hope. What the show does give you is an evening with an artist of the likes only comes around once in a century, and as an audience member, that seems like the highest privilege.

Photo Credit: Nicky Kelvin

For more badly shot videos you can head over to my Instagram here

 

 

 

 

Win 2 VIP tickets for AR Rahman’s London O2 Show!

The double Grammy and double Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, AR Rahman returns to The O2 after five years, with a one off greatest hits show on Saturday 15 August 2015. AR Rahman will be joined by very special guests including; Haricharan, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Jonita Gandhi, and many more.

You have the chance to win 2 exclusive VIP tickets* including:

•    Access to The prestigious O2 VIP lounge
•    Access to the After Party at Brooklyn Bowl

For a chance to win, follow us on our FB page or Twitter and us a mail on Upodcasting@gmail.com  with the answer to:

What was the name of the first soundtrack composed in Hindi  by AR Rahman for a Bollywood movie?

Final Entry dates are 10th of August.

*(food, drink, parking & travel are not covered)

Tickets and limited VIP Packages go on general sale at 9am on Friday 12 June and are available at AXS.com or by calling 08448 24 48 24. Tickets are also available via www.chillitickets.comwww.seetickets.com and www.biggreencoach.co.uk

Discussing his forthcoming UK show of the year AR Rahman said; “The UK always brings back fond memories of working on landmark projects in my career and it’s good to be back again after five years.”

The announcement follows a hugely successful intimate American tour and saw AR Rahman, performs in multiple concert halls. Throughout the US, the tour received standing ovations and critical acclaim.

Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema and theatre with the hit show Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rahman, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million albums. He is one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists, with consistent chart-toppers across multiple continents.

In 2009 TIME magazine listed him as one of the world’s most influential people and cited his first album, Roja among the ”10 Best Soundtracks” of all time. Best known for his score and songs in Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has worked on more than 100 films, among them the Oscar nominated Lagaan, Bombay, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Raanjhanaa, O Kadhal Kanmani, Enthiran (Robot), Fox’s 127 Hours by Danny Boyle, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

He is working on a composition for the film Pelé, a biopic on the Brazilian football legend, as well as the score for Disney’s Mohenjo Daro. His album Vande Mataram, released for India’s 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997 remains a firm favourite with patriotic Indians both at home and abroad.

Show: http://www.axs.com/uk/events/279464/a-r-rahman-the-greatest-hits-live-tickets?skin=arrahman

 

Screen Talk: Mani Ratnam – London Indian Film Festival 2015, BFI Southbank

Mani Ratnam is pretty much how I expected him to be – unpretentious, likeable and a man who doesn’t waste words. When he does speak, there was much to inspire and after the hour and bit talk, I am sure I was not the only who felt charged up to go out and make a film of my own.

With an audience that included Ratnam’s wife Suhasini (an accomplished actress in MalayalamTamilTelugu and Kannada language films) and ace cinematographer Rajiv Menon (who was sat next to me with his wife and Suhasini next to her), the talk was guided by Peter Webber (director of Girl With A Pearl Earring and all set to make his next venture in India) and held at the BFI Southbank which was the perfect place to host this afternoon event as part of the London Indian Film Festival 2015.

When asked about how he became a filmmaker, Ratnam described himself as a “disillusioned management consultant” who was passionate about cinema and wanted to see if he could make a career out of filmmaking. When Webber asked him if anyone had influenced his work, Ratnam mentioned Akira Kurosawa as a favourite but admitted he was generally inspired by anything he had read or seen (as indeed all creatives are).

There was also some good natured ribbing about songs in Indian cinema with Webber saying he admired Ratnam and Indian filmmakers for directing songs in their films. Ratnam explained how directing a song was a “liberating process” and was like making a mini film, with a story arc, choreography and sensibility all of its own. “Songs let you travel emotions in an abstract fashion” said Ratnam before joking that he felt sorry for Western cinema that does not have songs as part of its narrative.

Ratnam also spoke about his working relationship with A R Rehman who has scored the music for many of Ratnam’s films. Naming Bombay as his favourite Rehman soundtrack, Ratnam noted that Rehman was a very special composer who had a unique ability to find his own level in his music as well as achieving what had been asked of him when composing music and that the experience of working with him was a great one.

I was not surprised but interested by Ratnam’s revelation that he doesn’t really understand Hindi in the way he does Tamil. Ratnam went on to explain how he wrote in Tamil, then worked with a Hindi writer to translate the dialogue and then trusted his actors to enact their character properly as Ratnam felt he is unable to control nuances of word in Hindi as well as he would want to and for this reason preferred to work in Tamil.

Webber then took questions from the audience which ranged from what Ratnam does to make a set come alive (“have a good team and work with people better than you”), his inspiration for the strong female roles in his films (all based on the women he has met and his admiration for their amazing strength in character), his favourite director (“Guru Dutt”) and how he offered his first film to his wife but she refused it (“so I married her!” which delighted the audience). All too soon, time was up and Ratnam was presented the London Indian Film Festival icon of cinema award, the first ever recipient of the award to mark the conclusion of the talk.

My favourite anecdote came near the start, where Ratnam talked about how he saw his approach to film as “reinventing what is written on paper”. A simple sentiment that could easily be lost in the process of filmmaking, it struck me that this was exactly what Ratnam has done in each of his films and perhaps is instrumental in making him one of Indian cinema’s greatest filmmakers and a very worthy candidate for a truly fascinating screen talk.

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

AR Rahman announces UK concert dates at the O2

The double Grammy and double Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, AR Rahman returns to The O2 after five years, with a one off greatest hits show on Saturday 15 August 2015. AR Rahman will be joined by very special guests including; Srinivas, Karthik, Shweta Mohan, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, and many more.

Tickets and limited VIP Packages go on general sale at 9am on Friday 12 June and are available at AXS.com or by calling 08448 24 48 24. Tickets are also available via www.chillitickets.comwww.seetickets.com and www.biggreencoach.co.uk

Discussing his forthcoming UK show of the year AR Rahman said; “The UK always brings back fond memories of working on landmark projects in my career and it’s good to be back again after five years.”

The announcement follows a hugely successful intimate American tour and saw AR Rahman, performs in multiple concert halls. Throughout the US, the tour received standing ovations and critical acclaim.

Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema and theatre with the hit show Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rahman, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million albums. He is one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists, with consistent chart-toppers across multiple continents.

In 2009 TIME magazine listed him as one of the world’s most influential people and cited his first album, Roja among the ”10 Best Soundtracks” of all time. Best known for his score and songs in Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has worked on more than 100 films, among them the Oscar nominated Lagaan, Bombay, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Raanjhanaa, O Kadhal Kanmani, Enthiran (Robot), Fox film’s 127 Hours by Danny Boyle, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm and The Hundred-Foot Journey.

He is working on a composition for the film Pelé, a biopic on the Brazilian football legend, as well as the score for Disney’s Mohenjo Daro. His album Vande Mataram, released for India’s 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997 remains a firm favourite with patriotic Indians both at home and abroad.

Tickets On-sale: Fri, 12 Jun 201509:00 BST: http://www.axs.com/uk/events/279464/a-r-rahman-the-greatest-hits-live-tickets?skin=arrahman

HighWay Posters and Behind the Scenes tidbits

Every movie directing by Imtiaz Ali is something to look forward to, he seems to be able to craft characters that stay with you for a long time after leaving the theater. Especially when he teams up with composer AR Rahman and lyricist Irshad Kamil, they create a sensitivity tornado that can break the shell of even the biggest cynics.

They are planning to travel to the UK next week for some promos and special screenings so hopefully we should have some more news for you then, hopefully even an early review.

Until then, the PR team send us some behind the scene shots of Alia Bhatt and some posters.

Highway, presented by UTV Motion Pictures and Sajid Nadiadwala, releases worldwide on 21st February 2014 and on 20th February 2014 in UAE.

With Alia, on the road to reality

With Alia, on the road to reality with matted hair, second hand clothes and not one ‘It’ bag in sight. Alia Bhatt’s transformation from minted school snob Shanaya Singhania to abducted teenager Veera Tripathi of Highway took two months, hundreds of miles and no shampoo. And the man who took the grease paint off the Student of the Year debutant is Aid Narula.

The fashion designer and film stylist, who birthed trends like collared kurtas in Bunty Aur Babli and frayed Nehru caps in Rockstar, started his recce in the weekly flea markets of Raja Garden in Delhi and the journey continued through the haats of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. And when pressed for some authenticity, he simply borrowed from the residents of tiny hamlets like Kalpa and Reckong Peo, where the film was shot. Alia, who inhabited the utopia of short dresses and big labels in her first film, was more than happy with strangers’ hand-me-downs. Veera starts her journey in a T-shirt and track pants; the urbane staples soon give way to oversized ‘borrowed from the boys’ garments and as the terrified teenager finally comes into her own and the motley crew move onto the hills, traditional skirts and turbans follow.

“Imtiaz (director Imtiaz Ali) was very clear that the extension of her wardrobe has to be an organic process. And all additions began with the question, ‘Where will Veera get this from?   ‘We even eschewed fitting shoes for the same reason. And every piece is explained, for example the turban she sports in the promotional images was crafted from a blue sweater she wears earlier and then re- purposes as headgear in a scene,” says Aid who travelled through Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir with the cast and crew. This austere approach meant that no backstage manipulations were allowed. After all where will Veera get safety pins or make-up from? And the barebones aesthetic was applied to the film’s leading man Randeep Hooda, who plays truck driver Mahabir Bhatti, as well as some of the 200 extras used in the film. “We used a lot of locals as extras and asked them to bring along their daily wardrobe. And instead of the usual prettying up, we went the opposite direction. So we picked out the most worn out pieces for them to wear,” says Aid. At least the wardrobe budget was never a problem? “We had an unlimited budget of creativity and emotions,” quips the designer.

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Raanjhanaa Trailer Breakdown: A Love Story for All Ages

Honestly there hasn’t been much to talk about going on in Bollywood worth talking about. Lately the release schedules of the bigger and more exciting movies has been consistently been pushed back in the 2nd half of the year, banking on the bigger holidays like Eid and Diwali. That doesn’t mean we don’t get some nice surprises from unexpected corners (Kai Po Che, Special 26, Jolly LLB), but 2013 has been really dire in terms of Box Office even with Chasme Baddoor and Race 2 being the only clean hits.

So the trailer of Raanjhanaa is very refreshing, not only as it seems something different but because it seems to focus on that one element that the Southie Remake/Massala/ Punchy Dialogue movie making has forgotten and that is to give the audience some sweet sweet romance.

 

 

Although the guy stalking and following a girl trope feels icky especially recent news stories in India, a guy like Dhanush really can’t be a physical threat to anyone.

Abhay Deol makes an appearance too which I wasnt aware of, didn’t he and Sonam have some sort of tiff during the shooting of Aisha?

The movie looks very colorful and sweet and the thing that has me even more excited is of course the soundtrack being composed by AR Rahman.

Releasing 21st of June.

What do you guys think of the trailer of Raanjhanaa? Will this be the movie where Sonam Kapoo blows our minds with her acting ability?

@asimburney

 

 

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Competition! Win 2 copies of A.R. RAHMAN’S MUSICAL, EKK DEEWANA THA

As most of you know we’re mildly obsessed with the music of AR Rahman, the promo’s for his fortchcoming compositions of Gautam Menon’s Ekk Deewana Tha has been doing the rounds and you have a chance to win 2 copies of the soundtrack if you take part in our competition!

 

Below are the rules and the Press Release, merry listening to all!

 

Hailing from the new age genre of Hindi cinema that presents a fresh and youth-targeted perspective, ‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ retells the classic, intense love story with fresh impetus for a new generation of cinemagoers, releasing through Twentieth Century Fox on 17th February 2012.
‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ weaves an emotive and powerful tale of how the path to true love never runs smoothly and that following your dreams comes at a price as it explores the highs and lows of being in love and the pleasures and pains associated with it.

The soundtrack to ‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ is simply outstanding with a memorable composition by multi-Oscar winner AR Rahman (‘Slumdog Millionaire’). Lyrics have been penned by India’s most popular and sought-after lyricist, Javed Akhtar.

The music has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike, with the track “Hosana”, already populating the radio airwaves. In speaking about the music, A.R. Rahman said: “This is my favourite romantic album in recent times, while I have been doing music for many fresh actors, I hadn’t composed a fully romantic album in quite a while”. His fans have been eagerly awaiting the music launch after listening to the background score in the film’s First Look trailer.

Speaking about the film, Rahman added, “This movie is nothing but romance and humor, with a very soothing kind of narration. People will love it. Music is the expression of love and with this movie, I am trying to bring that romance back.”

Making her Bollywood debut in the female lead after a successful run in Tamil Cinema is British actress and model Amy Jackson, who is also former Miss Liverpool, Miss Teen World, Miss Teen Great Britain, and Miss England runner up. The English starlet, who is making waves with her film career in India, stars opposite Bollywood heartthrob and youth icon Prateik Babbar (‘Dhobi Ghat’, ‘Dum Maaro Dum’, ‘Aarakshan’).
To celebrate the release of ‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ in cinemas, we are giving away 2 CDs for the film’s music soundtrack.

 

For your chance to win,

A. Like us on Facebook by clicking here:

B. Simply answer the following question and send your replies to upodcasting@gmail.com, together with your mailing adress:
Q.    Who is the music composer for ‘Ekk Deewana Tha’? (seriously, if you don’t know the answer… :-))

All Participants must be in the UK to apply!

‘Ekk Deewana Tha’ is released through Twentieth Century Fox on 17th February 2012.

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Rockstar Review

Coming to the close of a huge year in Box Office but maybe not in complete tune with my personal sensibilities I was pretty much sold on Rockstar from the outset just because of 2 names: Imtiaz Ali and AR Rahman. Imtiaz Ali has been quietly making romantic movies in a very fresh manner. When the trailer and especially Kun Faya Kun video was released I knew this would be hitting all my sweet spots.

A bittersweet love story (which I am going to talk about below in the spoiler section) set against the backdrop of the birth of a fictional Rockstar, from gangly Steve Urkel look-a-like Janardhan Jakhar to trendy bohemian bourgeois shalwar/pant-wearing stadium rocker. Although Rock On was a success and a movie I totally loved, London Dreams left such a skid mark in my cinematic briefs even if it starred one of my favorite actors that I was weary of Hindi Films taking on Rock again. (Ranbir prancing around with a guitar during the press tour really didn’t help either)

I was happy to see that there was less rock than the title suggests but the amount there is, is unfortunately not well handled. For anyone that has had the soundtrack on repeat (like me) would know that there really is only one song that could maybe be qualified as rock (although people that like to wear black T-shirts probably don’t agree with either) but it does bring us to the second element of the movie that had me sold and that is of musical wunderkind AR Rahman. Every soundtrack that the guy has ever produced is like crack to me. If I don’t get some new music at regular intervals I started hanging out with Bubbles in Hamsterdam or trying to steal some copper wire.

The movie is told in a nonlinear timeline starting with the final concert in Rome, flashing back to a young Jordan. This is quite refreshing although not unique for a Hindi film, it did however create quite a bit of confusion for the samosa auntie collective around me in the theater. Some of the emotional beats suffer a bit due the timeline but the movie weaves such a magic that it sticks so close to your heart that you yearn to revisit it as soon as you step out of the darkness of the cinema.

Rockstar is many things, but first and foremost it’s a musical epic composed around the soundtrack of Rahman.  Rockstar would not be possible without the sounds that have been on repeat on my iPod since the soundtrack was released a couple of months ago. From the chant-along stadium anthem Saada Haq, the hypnotism of the sufi inspired Kun Faaya Kun to the fun loving Katiya Karoon, there hasn’t been an album like this all year and truly only someone like AR Rahman’s midas touch could craft something that accompanied with the beautiful cinematography of Anil Mehta takes us to the soaring highs that we see Jordan gaze upon many times throughout the movie. A very smart move was to have one playback singer take on all of the songs that Jordan sings; it just creates more cohesion between Ranbir and Jordan which makes the character just that tad bit believable. And another thing I loved about the songs… there were no damn techno remixes of them on the album, thank Rahman.

Rockstar is a powerhouse performance by Ranbir Kapoor, although the young actor has been known to have the luxury to experiment unlike his contemporaries, he has an innate and effortless talent that can’t be denied.  We have seen him as a slacker in Wake Up Sid, a college graduate transformed into a political strategist in Raajneeti but the performance here is just something different. Although Jordan is pretty much a petulant man child (isn’t that what Rockstar are supposed to be?) Ranbir makes you feel his anger, his frustration, his ambition and his love for Heer.

Played by newcomer and former Whose Americas Top Model ( I dont know the exact name of that show) contestant Nargis Fakhri, the character of Heer teeters on the manic pixie dream girl, a character template coined by film Critic Nathan Rabin.  Man-children protagonists usually fall in love with MPDG but Heer is more of a driver of the relationship than the label usually offers us. The decision to dub Nargis’ voice creates a disconnect doesn’t help making the performance more stilted, a decision I never understand but then again I am a sucker for all types of accents.  And who knows if it’s something that even Rani Mukherjee and Katrina Kaif struggled with at the start of their careers maybe we can see more of Nargis soon, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of her. (I totally also dig that little scar she has under her nose)

And maybe Heer is a MPDG in the way Paro was in Devdas or Kiran was in Darr but Nargis’ fresh appearance is so charming that you just want to chill out with her and have fun like Janardhan does before he becomes Jordan.

Her backstory is treated with nuance and hints (her marriage and her decisions in Prague) which are very subtle but make us understand why we as audience members fall in love with her. She is clearly playing that girl in high school that every guy has met, the one every guy and approximately 10-15% of girls are crazy about in college, that teenagers dream about after class and since she is engaged to be married that just adds to her allure.

Rockstar is a passionate love story of the kind we haven’t seen in a while and earlier this year Mausam probably tried to deliver. Director Imtiaz Ali has steadily worked throughout his previous movies trying to understand the foibles of young love within the conventions of Bollywood. Some might say he is getting stuck in the same mold but he manages to do so by giving us a new perspective on stories we know and some of us love. This is the case with Rockstar too, we know where the story will take us and where it will end but the ride is just so fresh that you forgive most of the faults.

There are some issues with the movie though, the second half of the movie starts dragging and the writing of the characters becomes a bit unbelievable especially in the female characters, like Heer’s sister, her sister in law and mother. ? Maybe the writer in Imtiaz Ali is only able to handle one female character to halfbakedly flesh out?

I also would have liked to see more of the journey of Jordan, suddenly he seems to be rocking stadiums and kicking journalists and we never have a sense on how that is justified. It would have been great to see him struggle more with the music industry (which we hear clearly in Sheher Mein on the soundtrack than in the movie itself). It reminded me of those scenes in 8 Mile where we see Eminem writing lyrics on the palm of his hand as he’s just working on this music all the time. This sense of creativity was lacking in Jordan. But this is probably due to the decision to focus on the love story.

Most of all Rockstar is a movie of achieving all your dreams but the price it comes at can be very high.

Spoiler Section: (if you want a non spoiler- non desi review, you should check out the review I did for HeyUGuys posting very soon)

  • What a wonderful strategy to release the music much earlier. We all know AR Rahman’s soundtracks are slow poison so it was great let us get used to the songs so we are singing along oh yay a with Jordan during Jo Bhi Main.
  • Mohit Chauhan, the main playback singer and Irshad Kamil, the lyricist are together with Rahman an amazing combination. Sheer poetry together with an amazing voice, it leaves me speechless at every listen. I love this soundtrack especially in a horrible year for music in Hindi films.
  • I have been trying to avoid as much as possible but Rockstar is a TRAGIC love story, meaning someone dies but love never does.  I think the way Hindi Films just go all out and wallow in the tragedy and melodrama of love is the reason I adore our good ole Bollywood. We’ve had our masala and will probably have more looking at the roster of releases for the next year but Rockstar reminded me in parts of some of my favorite movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
  • Where can we order those pants Ranbir is wearing? They seems very conforable to lounge in but debonair enough to go out and get some milk on a sunday from he corner shop.
  • Also is Shehnaz Patel getting typecast taking care of bed ridden characters after Guzaarish?
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Teaser trailer Raavan starring Abhishek Bachan and Aishwarya Rai

Fresh off the presses Abhishek bachan has just tweeted the new teaser trailer for his upcoming movie Raavan.

It’s directed by acclaimed south Indian director Mani Ratnam after their awesome collaboration in Guru. It also stars the wonderfully effervescent Aishwarya Rai of which we only see a passing shot. Watch it here now before it get’s pulled by the man!

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