Rock On!! is Abhishek Kapoor's second directorial venture. This one with Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, the masterminds behind Dil Chahta, Lakshya and Don. It also marks the acting/singing debut of Farhan Akhtar. There are also a few not-so-familiar and ok-average actors in Rock On!!. With music from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and lyrics from Javed Akhtar, Rock On!! reaches high, and clutches the stardom which it's characters dreamt of.
Rock On!!, with it's first promos seemed like it could be one more of those wannabe rock-star films. But the very thought of it being Farhan Akhtar's production and his launch as an actor/singer, and the introducion of the title track borrowing the main theme of Lakshya, pretty much took away the whole concept of a wannabe film. Right from the opening sequence which shows us a band performance in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, till the time when the closing credits start rolling, Rock On!! is a star in it's own right.
The whole feeling of the film just feels right. It's almost a kind of tribute to rock bands down the ages in it's own special way. It even puts in bits of the situation that is prevailing in India, where rock bands are mostly recognised by their lead singer (Read : Euphoria). The story is simple enough.. A couple of friends had a small rock band. They got separated from each other due to a nasty incident of clash of egos and personal desires at what could have been the launching of their career. Years later, they lead lives different from what they could have been like had the mishap not taken place. Then comes the re-introduction, the make-up, the flecks of vintage Bollywood, and voila.. Rock On!!
After watching the film, one almost feels a bit dazed. Sometimes, it almost seems like it tries to achieve what Dil Chahta Hai succeeded in grasping almost 7years ago. Given the fact that it is quite shorter than Dil Chahta Hai, and it goes a little less brutally on its characters, Rock On!! too succeeds, in a way; for it never really tries to hit at deep friendship and it's separation and re-uniting. It, more importantly, stresses on togetherness, personal aspirations, and moving on. This is something that is clearly clarrified by the inter-titles before the closing credits. Rock On!! never tries to be something it cannot be, or take us somewhere it cannot go. It remains on the ground throughout. There are no big arguments here, there are no cheesy break-ups or make-ups. It is all very-very personal. It beats, tortures, but eventually sets free it's characters.
Supporting all that is a brilliant set of actors, some wonderful music, and off-the-chart stunning cinematography. Most of the character shots which create tension between characters are never concentrated on the characters directly. A very efficient replacement is used in it's stead. Reflections. There are instances of magic in between (The photo-shoot session in the empty pool, the Goa trip, the jeep rides and and most noticeable - the basement jam sessions, and the concerts). The background score always goes back to a theme which started the film, and it keeps coming back. As far as the songs are concerned, asking for better is madness. The title track is not a strong rock song simply because it comes about in the film in not so raw a moment. It does not show the band performing the title track at any concert. It's a collection of flashback images that go on with Rock On. What it does not do, another song conquers.. Pichhle saath dino mein. It's a great track. The pick of the lot with ease. Then there are modern-day partial-rock versions of old hindi songs which are absolutely hilarious. Adding a considerable amount of heart are Tum ho toh, and Phir dekhiye.
The casting is perfect. At first Arjun Rampal seems to be in the wrong place, but by the time he lets loose his emotions (and also his hair), you know why he is so perfect for the role. Purab Kohli makes a great transformation, as does everyone else actually. But his is the most noticeable. From absolutely raw to simple. Kohli has a lot of jokes (some good, some really-really bad, but kind of funny), which establish him as the goof-ball of the lot. Luke Kenny efficiently plays who turns out to be the central character of the story. Prachi Desai is a revelation, as is Shahana Goswami as the insecure and all family-caring wife. Then comes Farhan Akhtar. You never get the feeling that it's his debut. He seems to have been doing this for years. His acting/singing seems to be something that he had wrapped up in a cloth and stored safely away in a box for all these years - For this. For exactly this film. I do not know when the concept/script for this film came along, but it totally changes Farhan Akhtar's career. The man can sing rock tracks very very well.
Rock On!! never feels like a 150minute film. It is extremely fast paced owing to it's refreshing technique and take. The whole rock music concept acts as a mere connection between the characters, yet it is crucial. It adds the flavour. It could as well have been four friends working as partners in a business, just the flavour would have been different. The essential rock music aspect, missing. Therein lies the secret to the success of this film. Therein lies the reason why it gets you. Watch this. It is very very interesting.