Rock On: Bang On!
by Deepa Gahlot
The story goes back and forth in time as it covers a decade in the lives of the four members of the band Magik and their women. The long-haired funky dudes have turned into hotshot investment banker Aditya Shroff (Farhan Akhtar), KD (Purab Kohli) who works in his father's jewellery store, Joe (Arjun Rampal) who sits around brooding as his increasingly angry a wife Debbie (Shahana Goswami) runs the family's fish business, and Rob (Luke Kenney), who works with Bollywood music composers (Anu Malik plays himself).
They have not met since their band broke up and the bitterness of the experience never left them. Then Aditya's wife Sakshi (Prachi Desai), unhappy with his unsmiling aloofness, comes across old photos of the band, and discovers a side of her husband she never knew. The days of the band winning a competition, getting an album contract and chucking the opportunity away. She brings the former band members together to relive that moment of glory once more.
Beautifully structured, revealing a layer at a time and no more than the viewer needs to know at a given point, with a promise of more, Rock On tells a gripping tale of male-bonding – a more mature Dil Chahta Hai—that doesn't ignore the women.
Okay, so it is a bit predictable, there are silly coincidences (a rival turning up as boss), and a maudlin touch about Rob's terminal illness the film could have done without, not enough change in the characters' appearances to suggest a decade gone by and it doesn't even touch the ugly drugs-and booze side of the music business; maybe the film would have been more realistic if it was at least partly in English (Goan Joe and Debbie would hardly speak Hindi at home), but what really works is the spot-on characterization, humour gently slipped in (the dandiya scene, the meeting with the music executive) and an impartial empathy for all the characters with their strengths and failings.
It is Farhan Akhtar's first film as an actor (and singer), he is a competent actor, though his voice needs working on; but the film belongs to Arjun Rampal, who had so suddenly come into his own, that the transformation and the performance is startling. Purab Kohli and Luke Kenney are marvellous too, and the actresses Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami do well in their small parts.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music captures the spirit of the film (even with odd lyrics about laundry bills) and the energy of the still small but growing band of desi rock enthusiasts. The purists would scoff at Hindi rock songs, but Rock On is a film that is about people (and for people) who are a blend of Indian and Western cultural influences.
Source: India Syndicate
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