Rock OnDirector: Abhishek KapoorCast: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Luke Kenny, Prachi DesaiRating: *** and a half
Grab that popcorn, get the best seats in the house, sit back and enjoy the joyride called Rock On. Honest, unpretentious and entertaining, Rock On's the story of four collegians who have a rock band - Magik. These are a bunch of talented guys, with vocalist Aditya (Farhan), lead guitarist Joe (Arjun Rampal), drummer KD (Purab) and keyboardist Rob (Luke).
And after winning the Channel [V] Launch Pad, they get a shot at the big league – with an album and music video to boot. But misunderstandings between Joe and Aditya lead to a rift and the group disbands.
After ten years, their lives are very different. Aditya is a successful investment banker married to Sakshi (Prachi), but a man who has bottled up his emotions. Sharing a strained relationship with his wife, he has disconnected himself from everything that reminds him of his past life. Joe is trying to keep his musical dreams alive through his eight-year-old son and deals everyday with a bitter wife who is also the sole bread-earner in the house. Rob works with music director Anu Malik and leads a lonely life, while KD is struggling with a job at his father's firm. A chance meeting between KD and Prachi is what sets the ball rolling and leads to the friends meeting up again. And the Magik comes alive too.
The film is largely predictable and the tag of being a second 'Dil Chahta Hai'(DCH) weighs heavily upon it. The two films are quite similar, not just because they are both 'buddy flicks', but also largely in treatment. Ego hassles between two best friends leading to a rift reminds you of the tiff between Aamir Khan and Akshaye Khanna's characters in Dil Chahta Hai. But what sets the two films apart is the theme. And the music.
While DCH was more about individuals learning about what love and friendship is through experiences, Rock On is about making decisions that shape your entire life. In that sense, Rock On actually goes one up on its predecessor in looking at a more important facet of life, and for that story writer and director Abhishek Kapoor deserves credit. When you emerge from the theatre, you know that Rock On has emerged from the DCH shadow too.
Any talk of Rock On without Shankar Ehsaan Loy's music is incomplete. The guys have come up with a score that holds the film together and every song, be it Socha Hai, Pichle Saat Dino Main, Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein and the title song itself, is a treat. The background music is apt and helps maintain the mood beautifully. And Jason West's cinematography gives the film just the raw look it required.
All performances are brilliant. Farhan Akhtar is here to stay for sure. Lucky enough to get the meatiest role (and the chance to play a rock star in his first film as actor), Akhtar does full justice to his character. Purab Kohli is charming and pulls off important scenes with amazing ease. Luke Kenny seems uncomfortable in the scenes requiring him to 'perform' but settles into the skin of Rob quite well otherwise. Prachi Desai makes a confident debut and is extremely endearing. Shabana Goswami is a revelation and impresses both with her looks and acting. Koel Purie is sweet.
But the biggest surprise of the film is Arjun Rampal. From a confident young musician to a bullied husband to a man redeemed, Rampal performs the most difficult role of the film with élan. Watch him with the guitar in the film's climax. If there's a rock star in the film, it's him.
Rock On is not the most unpredictable film, and the basic story has the 'I've-seen-that-before' kind of a feel. But it's the performances, treatment and the amazing music that makes the film a must-watch.
If very soon you see a guy with long hair, funky beard, a Jim Morrison t-shirt and a guitar flung over his shoulder, don't be surprised. This rock show is gonna win many fans!