Movie review: Rock On!! (Abhishek Kapoor)

Flawed. Nah, make it Contrived. With a capital C. Abhishek ‘Gattu’ Kapoor’s second film is amazingly similar to his debut, Aryan. While Aryan was about the protagonists’ reaction to a sport (boxing), in Rock On!!, its their reaction to music. What was so lovingly promoted as a film about (rock) music, merely acts as a film about friendship and camaraderie – the 4 leads seem to be missing the latter, more than the experience of making and enjoying music!

So, we have a moron, whose passion ‘was’ music – 10/ 14 years ago, if you add up assorted references to his past and his marriage. He literally abandons his passion, along with his girl friend and starts life afresh, and is mega successful as an investment banker. His life is so complete – a wife with a permanent plastic smile plastered on her face even when she’s crying and an obscenely massive apartment that looks the way it does perhaps because the art director was Abhishek’s very close buddy – and one huge unbelievable compromise that he has to wipe out music from his life. Wipe out as in, remove all possible traces of…ever. Wash it off. Scrub it off his life.

Now, this is my biggest grouse. 10/ 14 years. Even if you ignore time lines, in current times, there are so many ways one ‘can’ pursue/ fan/ continue/ indulge in one’s passion for music. Does one need to be a successful band/ performer to continue indulging in music? Farhan is even shown to switch off music in his car. Agreed, the band had a bad break-up but he giving up all shades and outlets of music forever, when it can easily be a passing hobby/ past time isn’t even explored. This, for a movie that wants to be ‘real’.

The others are fairly more real. KD is a typical, stifled Gujju. Rob is in music with no chance of doing his own stuff. Jo’s story is the most real of all – he blew the big chance despite knowing that he can’t do anything else in life. And he repents, along with his wife, Debbie.

There are contrived clichés all across the film. A friend with a deadly disease; Caricatur’ish music bosses and music video directors; Extraordinarily enthusiastic Indian audiences to rock music that goes wild when a song is played for the first time. The list goes on! Barring some genuinely interesting scenes (Khurshid chacha recognizing Jo with his guitar; Debbie’s outburst almost throughout the film; the quite, graceful meeting between Aditya and Tanya in a party; an ex-rival singer becoming Channel V boss and meeting Magik, but with some witty and harmless animosity), the film reeks of all possible clichés that can and will plague a film.

The one thing that holds the film together is Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s incredible music that is perhaps the only reason why I ended up liking the band – at least their music is so damn good. Getting Farhan to sing was one of the best decisions in this film – it adds a huge layer of reality to an otherwise unreal set up.

And when did Aashiqui become ‘Puraane gaane’, if you go by the 10/ 14 year time line? The acting is uniformly great, with Debbie (Shahana Goswami) pitching in the best, for her bitchy role. Prachi looks like Barbie added to Farhan’s apartment interiors by the above mentioned art director. Arjun Rampal continues to be glum and moody, while Luke and Purab add some fabulous spark to the film, particularly Purab. The fairy tale ending with Debbie becoming a successful fashion designer is collectively more cringe-worthy than anything else in the film.

I’d sure like to end this review by saying that this is a film that could have been so much more, but seriously falls short of a lot of things. But, given this is Abhishek’s second film, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to have learnt or attempted anything new, I feel this was made exactly as it was intended and there’s nothing more it could have been.

Keywords: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny, Purab Kohli, Prachi Desai, Shahana Goswami, Shankar Ehsaan Loy