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Review: Rock On

movie reviews Updated: Aug 29, 2008 20:08 IST
Khalid Mohamed
Khalid Mohamed
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Rock On!!
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Prachi Desai
Direction: Abhishek Kapoor
Rating: ***1/2

Come, go off your rockers. Vibe to the Zeppelinish scene, ignite a purple haze, bang a thousand tin cans, heaven’s knocking at your door. Here’s a ‘today’ movie with slay-the-guitar riffs. And band member tiffs.

The cool news is that the Abhishek Kapoor-directed Rock On!! (did a numerologist insist on the two exclamation marks?) is hard candy. You love it, especially in the pre-intermission segment. And the uncool news is that you do have some massive reservations. It’s about as much pure rock as a woolen sock. <b1>

Imagine a rock band which doesn’t even know about drugs, doesn’t touch a cigarette and generally behaves like aunties at a high tea party with cucumber munchies. Really, for rock music, the group Magic is so squeaky clean that it’s CUTIE POOH.

And innagadda-da-vida can you call the Ehsaan-Shankar-Loy music ‘rock’? Only by pumping up the volume madly or comparing it to a wedding band’s. And the lyrics, man! Javed Akhtar, also glimpsed in a photo-frame, writes about Sinbad the sailor, laundry bills..taash se heart ka king….chandni ka ring.. na na na na. Na na is right.

Now, if you don’t mind a simplistic script, incredible tragedy (brain tumour strikes) and thousands of resemblances to Dil Chahta Hai , then you’ll be fine. Because at the end of the show, you’re rocked, shaken and stirred. Also, there are nostalgia-oozing references, say to the vintage hit I will survive. And there’s that stray Bob Dylan album cover and vignettes of group bonding, reminding you of the music and friends that were.

Here boys meet boys, form Magic a glitter pop-ish band, win a V-channel contest, are asked to make compromises, squabble and go their separate ways. Lead vocalist Adi (Farhan Akhtar) becomes a buttoned-up executive and ignores his sweet halwa wife (Prachi Desai, appealing). Lead guitarist Joe (Arjun Rampal) becomes bitter, just hangs around and is constantly berated by his wife (Shahana Goswami, excellent). Drummer K D (Purab Kohli) sleepwalks at his father’s designer store, and keyboardist Rob (Luke Kenny) composes jingles for Anu Malik. Oh, oh.

Ten years later, despite differences, the Magic friends kiss, hug, make up and head for that V-channel contest once again (presumably, V’s make-compromises policy has altered). Suffice it to say, the last concert is terrific, marvellously photographed by Jason West and performed with livewire zeal by all the four Magic members. The styling, the locations and editing are all upbeat.

In fact, the performances are of the highest order. Farhan Akhtar doesn’t exactly have a range of expressions to display but is more than competent and convincing. Arjun Rampal gives his angst and ecstasy a lifelike edge. Way to go! Ditto Purab Kohli who has a sprightly screen presence. Luke Kenny, for his first time out, is remarkably in sync with his character.

Yeah, so Rock on..four exclamation points.