An attribute of the advertising world, ‘look' has become the new currency in Bollywood. Perhaps that's why the promos look authentic, but the moment the film begins, the fakery becomes obvious. Imtiaz Ali's latest is yet another good-looking product where a promising new-age director fails to translate his thought into something convincing.

Based on the Sufi premise that a crying heart is the reservoir of creativity, Ali follows the life of Janardan Jakhar, a Jat boy from Delhi, who is fascinated by the guitar and Jim Morrison but has no idea how to achieve his musical goals. Advised by a friend (Kumud Mishra), he decides to pursue an unachievable target called Heer (Nargis Fakhri), a Kashmiri Pandit studying at St. Stephen's. As expected, the proverbial Seeta has a Geeta hidden inside her. In Janardan, she sees a hope to fulfil her rebellious ideas before she gets married. The two strike a chord but take eons to realise they are made for each other. In the process, Janardan's heart gets really broken and he becomes Jordan, the rockstar.

A film works when the pain experienced by the characters on screen permeates into the darkness of the theatre. No such luck here. After an explosive opening, you become restless for lack of ingenuity on the part of the writer-director even when he has got the ingredients to turn it into a never-before experience. A. R. Rahman's soulful tunes, Anil Mehta's breathtaking camerawork and a malleable lead actor, but still it remains a glazed canvas. It has a lot to do with inappropriate casting and an overtly indulgent director, who seem to have started with the idea of making a global blockbuster with Ranbir Kapoor and then started work on the content.

In comes Nargis, an American model, who looks the part of the canvas but when it comes to performance she is nothing more than an exaggerated pout. Her expressions and dialogue delivery are too foreign for the part. She makes Ranbir look better than actually he is. The Bandra boy tries hard to fill in the shoes of the gawky boy from Pitampura but the effort shows.

Together, Ranbir and Nargis fail to set our imagination on fire. Ali has given them enough ammunition in the form of some inspired writing but it doesn't click particularly in the second half which demands editing. Why did a rebellious girl agree for marriage and then at first opportunity decide to break free only to feel guilty all over again? — new-age stereotypes.

Still, it could have worked as a take on the life of a rockstar, but here Ali, left with little time and obviously no reference points, has managed to give us only some edgy but unconvincing snapshots leaving us with more questions than answers. His effort to turn Jordan's personal pain, feeling of alienation into something global looks patchy, perhaps an effort to fit in “Sadda Haq”.

Rockstar

Genre: Drama

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Kumud Mishra, Piyush Mishra

Storyline: The transformation of a Delhi boy into a global rockstar.

Bottomline: A muffled voice.

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Hindi Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011