People own the film much more than I do: Imtiaz Ali on 10 years of Rockstar

The filmmaker talks about the cult status that the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer musical has achieved over the years; adds that if he was to make the film now, the end would have been more tragic
‘Shammi Kapoor is the original rockstar’
‘Shammi Kapoor is the original rockstar’
Published on Nov 11, 2021 02:02 PM IST
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ByTitas Chowdhury

Imtiaz Ali’s directorial Rockstar was released a decade ago, today. Over the years, it achieved cult status with the film being discussed by movie connoisseurs and ardent fans across platforms and clubs.

Talking about it, the filmmaker says, “If a film is being discussed and its characters and situations are being dissected ten years after its release, that’s great. I think that a film belongs to its viewers more than its makers. I know there are people who own the movie much more than I do.”

While Jordan, the character played by Ranbir Kapoor, left an indelible impression in everyone’s mind, Ali reveals that he was not his first choice. “I began trying to make Rockstar even before Ranbir became an actor. So, I was thinking of other actors to play this part. When I met Ranbir, he strangely knew the story of Rockstar. When he began telling me the story, I saw Jordan in him,” he shares.

The music album of the film, including songs like Phir Se Udd Chala, Katiya Karoon and Kun Faaya Kun, among many others, composed by AR Rahman continue to remain a rage.

Recalling the moment when Rahman came up with the first scratch of the movie’s music track, Ali shares, “It was the scratch of Phir Se Udd Chala. At that point, I didn’t think whether it’s a good song or people will remember it after so many years. All I knew was I felt something, almost like an experience. And that experience lasted throughout the making of the film.”

Nargis Fakhri and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Rockstar (2011)
Nargis Fakhri and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Rockstar (2011)

What overwhelmed Ali post the release of the film was the extremely radicalised audience reaction. “Prior to Rockstar, my films were known to be pleasant. Jab We Met (2007), Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Socha Na Tha (2005) had nothing deeply disturbing about them. People took Rockstar very personally. But the film could have never ended on a happy note. If I were to look back and change the ending, it would have been even more tragic,” he says, adding, “The film, in a way, is about the myth that good music comes out of a broken heart. The broken heart was necessary at the end of the film.”

Sharing an anecdote, he says, “I was waiting for the lift at a production house and there was a girl inside who seemed to be crying. I had to get into the same elevator but looking at her but I wasn’t so sure. But then she looked at me and rudely asked me if I wanted to come in. I went in and kept to myself. As she was crying, she said to me, ‘Don’t listen to anyone. Rockstar is the most amazing film.’ She said it to me with such wrath! I remember that incident even after ten years. People took the film very personally. That’s what surprised me when it released.”

And how was it working with Shammi Kapoor? “Shammi ji had told about many stories about his life as an actor. He told us about his experiences with Nargis (late actor) and Naseer Hussain saab (late film producer). One of the things that he said to me was that he didn’t consider himself to be a great actor or dancer but he believed that he could express Mohammed Rafi’s music. On the last day of the shoot with us, the whole unit sang one of his evergreen songs. He was sitting in a wheelchair but still enacted the song for us. He is the original rockstar!” shares Ali.

The 50-year-old filmmaker, who is currently ambassador of the Russian Film Festival in India, says that while discussions continue about a sequel to Rockstar, the possibility of one is unlikely. “There has been a lot of demand for a sequel to the film and sometimes, we just mention it among ourselves, mostly as something to talk about but there has never been a serious plan to make a sequel. Long back I had said that if we go into making a sequel, it should only be ten years later in the life of Jordan. Though a decade has passed, there is really no plan,” he signs off with a smile.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021