Going to Glastonbury or being glued to your iPod listening to Aerosmith's Living on the Edge is a thing of the past for rock fans now that Rock On has arrived with loads of class and a touch of Magic. DEVANSH PATEL reviews the genre-busting film
OVERSEAS, the image of Bollywood films is all about the beautiful Swiss locales, the dancing around the tree couple, the bad guy swearing at the good guy and one big happy, traditional family.
Well, if you think Abhishek Kapoor's Rock On has any of these clichéd Bollywood scenes, you must be living in a cave! All I can advise you is to come out of the dark and see an Indian film which will change the way you think about Bollywood.
When you've got a star as big as Arjun Rampal, when you've got an experience as big as Farhan Akhtar, when you've got a talent as big as Purab Kohli, you can do whatever the hell your heart desires. And that is exactly what director Abhishek Kapoor has done in Rock On.
This down-to-earth tale follows 10 years in the life of a small-time band called Magic, who almost - by sheer hard work, passion and dedication - hit the big time with their single Pichle Saat Dino Mein.
The cast is spearheaded by Arjun Rampal as Joe Mascareanhas, the lead guitarist. Purab Kohli plays KD -aka 'Killer Drummer' - the group's drummer who is super-cool when it comes to the girls.
Add Farhan Akhtar as moody frontman and lead singer Aditya Shroff, who looks downright classy, plus a wise, nice and quiet Luke Kenny as Rob, and you've pretty much got the band.
But more than the band and its music, Rock On is a film about lost relationships, lost friendship and lost fame.
The reels start off with all four friends scattered and unhappily settled in their own private lives.
Joe sits in his guitar shop and does pretty much nothing except recalling his magical days with Magic or listening to the endless bickering of his wife Debbie, played by Sahana Goswami.
Aditya is also married and too busy in his hectic job as an investment banker to invest quality time with his wife, played by Prachi Desai.
Rob strings in a few small offers from music companies and tries to survive and KD is busy helping his father in their watch business, also struggling but managing to keep a smile on his face.
Rewind a decade, though, and one catchy tune had transformed Magic's dreams into reality, and brought them to the attention of a national rock competiton, landing the group a record contract.
Their progress is uncomplicated, if not exactly quick, but their downfall is even quicker.
One incident changes the band's present and future. But it is Aditya's wife who brings the estranged friends back together and even tougher choices have to be made by all four.
One of the beauties of any film is that as a medium for communication it has the potential to both entertain and make a powerful statement.
But rarely do they succeed in both departments. While most movies have themes, they're more concerned with entertaining, a recent example being Singh is Kinng - and that's great because entertainment is first in my books too.
But when I see a film like Rock On, I am reminded just how effective this platform can be. It's a powerful and honest film that doesn't give easy answers. The director leaves much to be figured out too.
Rock'n'roll and cinema usually mix like oil and water, coming across as pretentious, self-absorbed messes, but this one is an exception because of its emotional connection which audiences can identify with.
Rock On shows all the promise of becoming a cult movie, with the polish, textual fluidity and its rocking music but a distinctly underground sensibility and countless memorable moments.
And whoever says that the film should be trimmed and is slow-paced has a snail's brain! Every department is perfect and as Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai says, "It is very difficult to perfect your perfection".
Unfortunately, the act of drawing attention to any one performance seems to almost undermine the effectiveness of the cast as a whole, and it is the outstanding inter-relationships formed that are so effective in this film.
But if I have to do this, I'd say that Arjun Rampal delivers his best screen role so far. If he won awards for his hit Om Shanti Om, this one will only double it up for the matured-like-wine actor: the older he gets, the better he is. He perfectly conveys both the emotional highs and the petty jealousies and frustrations within the band.
Similarly, both Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny deliver the kind of support we've come to expect from them. They are the backbone of the band, delivering sweet-natured performances that are never less than believable.
But the real find is the producer/ director turned actor Farhan Akhtar. He is suave and sophisticated and has a charasmatic look in suits which complements a sexy, cool look in jeans and T-shirts. The male nominee for next year's best debutant award is here!
Rock On is, well, perfect on numerous levels. As a straight narrative, it contains a tight, gripping structure that grabs the viewer and holds their interest throughout.
As a character study, every portrayal is believable as well as likable, and as a coming-of-age story, each person goes through a full and complete arc that is satisfying and worth the time invested.
While it seems to be about music, the band and rock'n'roll, it is, ultimately, a movie about love.
It is about what we can lose through self-interest, and what we can gain through giving ourselves to others, in faithfulness, in friendship, and in honesty.
The director Abhishek Kapoor has given audiences around the world their best-ever summer gift, packing more heart into two and a half hours than any recent Oscar or FilmFare winner, and more intelligence too.
It unarguably deserves more than five stars and is a must-see for the non-Asian audience.