When I was in 10th grade, I was that girl who read Keats’ The Grecian Urn and was deeply affected by it. (I was that pazha case who read through the next academic year’s English books back to back during the previous year’s summer vacation. Multiple times. Including all the poetry. Yes I was that geek). At that time, I had thought between Shakespeare’s All the World’s a stage and The Grecian Urn, every possible explanation for existence, society and human behavior had been completely captured and my universe finally made sense in not making sense. I have a strong suspicion that, that little girl who read that “the sweetest songs are those that tell the saddest tales” took it completely to heart and still controls a lot of what this adult person does. I almost always have had the urge to write stories or attempt at poetry only when I am sad, have had an argument or just plain angry. I do believe that I am at my creative best (whatever that is) when I am in a negative frame of mind – sadness and depression are special favorites when I feel like I absolutely have to write something new. Ask M and he will tell you about countless arguments when I have tried to convince him that I thrive in sadness and hence we should fight more.
So, when Janardhan’s mentor tells him he cannot be an artiste because he has had a sheltered life and has no idea what suffering is, I knew what he was talking about. Janardan Jakhar is just a wannabe. He stares at Jim Morrison’s pictures on his wall and wants to be celebrated like him. He wonders how Jim Morrison was able to make a huge crowd cheer to him while he was showing them the middle finger – that is the rebel image college wannabe’s try to emulate. I have done it, you have done it, we all know someone who has done it. We don’t keep up with that reverence after a point because we grow out of that vulnerable phase and we start becoming “practical”. When a talented vulnerable kid who never grows out of his childishness (this Rockstar is really childish) gets that advice though – its a different story altogether. He wants to suffer, to feel pain and he brings it on to himself by whatever means he can. This Rockstar is a selfish masochist if ever there was one. The more fame, the more reverence – the more addicted he is to his own pain. It is a vicious cycle that he creates for himself and he does not know how to escape it.
The means to his suffering is that heart breaking machine – Heer. He is convinced of this and it is never clear in the film if he actually falls for her. She falls for him – that is made abundantly clear. To me, it almost seemed as though he was using her as the tool to inflict pain on himself – she was just the mechanism. To create a tragedy for himself, he had to keep seeking her knowing fully well that she was unattainable. It was irrelevant to him that she was married and he was making her fall for his charms as much as she was encouraging it. It was irrelevant to him that she was sick in bed, “Mein bore ho raha hoon, uto na” he says at one point to the girl who is almost comatose. It was irrelevant to him that she was fragile and needed care taking more than being his care taker. However, the more comfort and happiness he found with her, the worse the pain they have to suffer through. Almost all of this was pretty organically driven through a beautiful non linear narrative with quite the poetically unorthodox ending. It must have been amazing to write this and read it – in paper. Nargis Fakhri was pathetic as Heer, the bits in college when they try to make juvenile bucket lists for frivolous fun were painful to watch and I knew what the story was trying to be, what they were going through – in my mind, but I am not sure it was all very clearly done on screen. Ranbir was fantastic, but he has become our own Leonardo Di Caprio – you know he is going to be phenomenal and it doesn’t surprise you anymore.
Throughout the film, that mentor I was talking about earlier – Khatana Bhai – was one of the most interesting characters, probably the only good actor among all the side roles. I wanted to see more of him, what back story did he have in order to possess the understanding that great artistes are always born out of a lot of suffering and pain. There were two outstanding conversations between Jordan and him – the first one in the middle of the road, when Janardan is just becoming Jordan and Khatana Bhai tries to make him understand that his attitude is going to ruin him (how beautifully captured was this scene where the characters are talking about one thing and the ambience is pointing to the exact opposite phenomenon. You can literally see Khatana Bhai’s confusion and Ranbir’s subtle understanding of it and the helplessness of both of them). The second one, the more poignant one where Jordan’s external charade finally breaks down and he begs Khatana Bhai to make it all go away, be back to those simpler times, be that Nadaan Parinda again.
A day after watching the movie, I listened to the entire soundtrack for the first time and I have goosebumps. I don’t think I have ever remembered so much of a movie from the music, so many visuals with each note. Never has a full soundtrack been so beautifully used before. If nothing else, Rockstar has to be celebrated for the fact that it is the one and true musical – the music, lyrics and visuals were so beautifully integrated. A complete case study on how its done. You do not understand “Dichotomy of Fame” until you watch it on screen. When I heard it again today after watching the movie, the Shenoi and guitar notes reminded me of the understated pity in Shammi Kapoor’s eyes and the angst in Ranbir’s eyes when they play to this song. I did not care too much for Katiya Karun until I saw it in the movie – that bloody song is dissected and strewn all over the movie, bits of it all over the 3 hours in so many variations. Wow – how beautifully used. Sadda Haq and Kun Faaya Kun – I had liked when I heard them first. More than the celebrated Sadda Haq, Nadaan Parindey and Aur Ho were the true rock songs in the album – I have tears in my eyes when I hear “Meri bebasi ka bayaan hai” now, I was weeping in the theater when Ranbir so beautifully embodied the helplessness. Despite its flaws, the move was still very very affecting. And that’s a win for Imtiaz Ali.
Maybe I am more forgiving of the film’s bad parts because a lot of the good parts rang so close to home. It surprises me that a lot of people find these love stories (to an extent the love story here has a lot of similarities to Vinnai Thandi Varuvaaya) very inconsistent and confusing. I want to tell them, that’s how flabbergasting life is. If you haven’t had this young man confound all rationality and rattle your core into so much soul searching that you end up frantically looking for Rumi’s field, those lines the movie ends with, you cannot understand what it means for the world to be too full to talk about.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
Aur Ho and Nadaan Parindey are still playing and I cling on to the universe that I bought into in this movie. I refuse to leave, atleast for some more time. Atleast until the world becomes too noisy for me to escape from.