yawn: Rock On
Yeah. What he said.
The thing about reactions to and opinions about art and stories and things like that is that they're so personal and tied to individual experiences. So there's no reason for me to try to convince someone who liked Rock On or found it moving that it was, objectively, facile and transparent and shallow, but that's sure how it came across to me. Instead of listing out what didn't work for me - and how none of this rocked me even remotely - and in fact my general philosophy in life is that if you have to put "rock" in the title, your work probably isn't successfully rocking for itself - maybe I should just say that my favorite song (or musical scene) in this movie was the jokingly, drunkenly karaoked version of "I Will Survive."
Purab Kohli, playing the most likable character, the very Ringo-y drummer.
That was the only one that felt genuine to me, true to the character and the moment. The rest of this was obvious and dull - even the flashbacks to the band's early days told me nothing about them that I couldn't have written myself. I've seen this movie a dozen times, though of course not in Hindi. Give me School of Rock any day. Cultural context may have just thrown up a huge wall for me here, and I am happy to accept that this movie has relationships to mainstream Indina cinema and to audiences who grew up primarily in that context that are very different from how it fits in with the western movies and tv I grew up with. There's little in Rock On that didn't happen a few seasons ago in Degrassi: The Next Generation, for example. And that's fine - there's nothing inherently wrong with different groups of people indulging in the same stories for different audiences or contexts - but it means that Rock On is not the movie for me.
I watched this with Memsaab and we made an ongoing checklist of all the standard rock band accessories, behaviors, and plot points we expected to find, and most of them turned up: leather wrist bands, iconic rock hero t-shirts/posters/CDs, pre-conflict frolicking, the lead singer diving into the crowd at a concert, fog machines and colored lasers (Magik [the band's name] [seriously] is Styx, apparently),
ego clashes, pressures to sell out.... I don't at all mind when movies (or novels, or songs, or whatever) dig into the barrel of narrative and emotional chestnuts, but if the story is uncreative, then I need the rest of the project to be imaginative and meaningful in its intent for and use of the chestnuts. Chake De India, for example, was mostly trite on paper but pushed all the right buttons for me and was utterly chock-full of heart. Rock On just didn't. I was so bored. A bunch of man-children upset that they're not able to wield their phallic symbols anymore? No thanks.
Boys, I've called you into my office to discuss how disappointed I am....
The list of various things that don't fit anywhere else:
- What was up with Aditya and Sakshi's rain sculpture thingy? That's the most ludicrously excessive piece of set decor I've ever seen in a Hindi movie, and I'm including the sunken living room wrap-around sofas that seat thirty-seven in that comparison.
I like to think of it as echoing the clouds and tears in Aditya's pre-band-reunion dil. Awww.
- Adi is such a stud that you need to see him from two sides at once! Maybe Farhan and crew were just inspired the split-screen idea from co-star Arjun Rampal's Asambhav!
- Arjun Rampal successfully channeled the look of circa 1972 George Harrison.
Probably not the guitar chops, though. Out of fairness, I should also say that this was the best performance I've ever seen Arjun Rampal give.
- Love the presence of Pepsi in a film that discussing selling out. Subtle and clever (relatively).
- You can't quite see it here, but the famous people in the producer's desk and wall photos are Anu Malik, who appears as himself in the film, and Javed Akhtar, whose presence does not need explanation.
More meta - apparently that's the theme of the month!
- Requisite struggling rock band wear: Doors shirt, camouflage, lots of metal jewelry, soul patch.
- (My screen capturing software did some funny things during this movie, so these shots don't do this scene justice, but let's proceed anyway.) At their first rock competition, Magik is preceded on stage by some sort of metal group,
and Memsaab and I both thought it would have been brilliant to have this shaved-head lead singer be a cameo by someone who is decidedly not a shaved-head lead singer of a metal band, like Shahrukh or Abhishek. Or OMG Preity! Ha!
Arjun Ramphal was good in this but he was waaaayyy better in The Last Lear. Have you seen it yet?
Positives? The performances were OK, I was really impressed by Farhan as this was the first time I had seen him as an Actor and god knows how but someone got Arjun to emote a bit. The Sinbad song still makes me grin :)
So I was OK to spend some time watching Rock On but won't be putting it on high rotation othe DVD player.
PS - One of my friends just got back from Mumbai where she got to be an extra in a rock concert type audience scene in Salman's rockstar movie. She did confess that no matter how she was exhorted by the AD, she just couldn't really feel desperate enough as she pretended to try and climb up onto the stage...
Also, I just read a novel about coming of age at IIT-Delhi, and it fleshed out the "rock band" scene in India for me, so that might have added a little of depth that I wouldn't have otherwise seen in the movie (precious little depth, why the hell was Arjun Rampal's character such a jerk? Never explained.).
Having just re-watched DCH twice, I can say confidently that it is still a much better movie than this, although not as good a movie as the first time I saw it, primarily because the moments of filminess really irritate me now (that STUPID VIDEO WITH BUBBLES for instance).
All the boys were really pretty- but other than that it does nothing for me.
I would not have gotten all the way through this without you to entertain me! :)
*goes off to watch Spinal Tap again*
Maybe I am just too old for this movie - the angst seemed so unnecessary to me, and I was SO bored...my husband simply gave up and walked away, stating that he had better things to do - like angst over the lack of rain this spring :-)
I can't claim to have seen too many rock movies either - just the whole privileged-kids-kvetching-over-their-lives made me itchy here. (Much like KANK, actually....I found myself yelling at the principals there to just get on with it, and do what they needed to, without so much drama!)
As for DCH, I had a similar thought, and promptly re-watched it - thankfully it holds up. Yes the boys are privileged there as well, but I didn't get much pointless twaddle about how their lives are without meaning because their college friendships broke up.
Now, a film about the kind of musician/band who is juggling a day job and his music and trying to make ends meet with the full knowledge that she (and why do it have to be men???) will probably never be able to make a living from it, that I'd like to see.
bollyviewer - I probably would have finished even if Memsaab hadn't been there to egg me on, but I can't imagine I'll ever watch it again. I'm very nervous about revisiting DCH, but I have loved it so!
Cannot wait to see Luck by Chance! C'mon, DVD! Haven't tried The Last Lear - you recommend?
Patrick von S - Hey, thanks for stopping by! Love the Kenny joke - and jealous I didn't think of it. Rob was by far the least annoying gora I've ever seen on Hindi film (Tom Alter close behind, of course).
veracious - I think our age difference might have something to do with our different reactions on this one. I'm old and cranky and wanted to give these guys, who in the "now" scenes are roughly my peers, a big ol' thump on the head and tell them to get a grip. Not that they have to stop playing rock music - not at all, and we should all make joyful use of whatever creative well we have! - but that they should actually process their emotions and not shut people out. That's mainly at the lead pair, of course; I have no problems with the back-up guys, who rightly noted that they had always been treated as just that.
I also agree that the music was simple and sincere, but for me it was the type of simple and sincere that I can't not laugh at because I'm just not won over by anything it has to offer other than its earnestness.
Temple - Yeah, I feel like I've heard people say it was new and ground-breaking, and I just didn't see that - but again, I don't know its India- or Hindi-specific contexts well enough to comment on that. I'd like to revisit Black - I liked it at the time, I think mainly because it's so pretty, but I suspect now I'd share your reaction.
I too thought the performances here were fine. I'm not sold on Farhan as a singer, though - I've been singing in organized and sometimes even paid settings since I was about 12, and I'm not impressed. I didn't cover my ears or anything, but...enh.
Oh god, Salman as a rockstar. Help us all.
Si - Their apartment was AMAZING. So giant! I guess that's some sort of commentary on empty souls or something.
What's the novel? Sounds interesting.
Hate the bubbles. HATE.
Shweta - :) Understood! You're safe here.
Nicki - Yep! :)
memsaab - Likewise! Oooh Spinal Tap! I have a student worker who's never seen it. HELP.
Bitterlemons - I know the feeling! I'm finding it interesting that many people (at least here) are saying the movie is boring - which is the total opposite of what rock, as a concept, is supposed to be, right?
Very glad your expert opinion is that DCH holds up. Phew!
theBollywoodFan - I agree, many of SRK's movies, or masalas, or whatever else, are also conventional and cliched. But as you say, we all have our preferred recipe and presentation style for typical ingredients.
house - I KNOW. Ditto all.
That said, Farhan's narrative thread was the one I enjoyed the least out of the four Magick boys. Then again, I didn't much care for Luck By Chance or Akshaye Khanna's story in DCH either - due to the yuppie angst over not being "creative" = boring thing. I also hated Juno, American Beauty, etc. etc.
There were a few things that really drew me to Rock On!!: The dynamic between the boys in the band was very realistic - way more so than in other rock movies I've seen; I liked the story between Arjun and his wife; I liked the theme of growing up and letting go of dreams of "stardom."
And, most surprisingly, I liked the music. SEL don't do melody well, so they were wonderful with Farhan's untrained voice.
In short, I guess Sanni and I will head up the Rock On!! appreciation fanclub!
@ houseinrlyeh - not to get overly defensive about "Magick" but they weren't a stadium rock band. In fact, all of the boys' stories dealt with trying to find a balance between day jobs and being creative. Nobody ends up with groupies and a record deal, they find a good balance.
And, sorry to say, as a veteran of the rock scene - most people in bands are dudes. That's just the way it is. Rock On!! did feature at least one female singer from a REAL rock band on the soundtrack - and I think in the movie, too.
I'm just saying... :)
And the music from the film I found on the 'net is very much stadium rock for me.
Sure, there may be lots of women in your record collection - there are in mine, as well - but how many of them are in your local rock scene? My band was often the only one with women in it when we played shows. Rock is and remains a very male dominated genre. And the soundtrack and film do include women in the local scene in the film. I don't see anything to complain about - esp. if you haven't seen it.
And secondly, don't judge the narrative of the film based on some tracks you heard online. Just because they sound like "stadium rock" doesn't mean that the narrative was about a successful band with a big record deal who sold out the Budokan.... the band practices in a basement and doesn't have too many gigs. And the narrative does deal with them balancing work and their creative lives.
And I don't appreciate you denigrating my experience playing rock music. I think it was perfectly valid to the discussion.
So, after seeing the musical numbers in a film I have no right calling them stadium rock even if they are? You know, I really don't care much if you allow me to or not.
And just because your local rock scene does mostly consist of men still doesn't mean a film like this should mostly be about men.
Oh, I don't "denigrate your experience playing in a rock band", whatever that may mean, I just don't know why your playing in one does make your ideas about women in music more valuable than those of other people - and that's the way your last post as well as this one read to me.
I really think it's best we just end this, before you get even more condescending and I get even more annoyed.
I meant that the story told of a simple but sincere motivation of these guys who wanted to express themselves creatively in the form of music. When I first got into rock music, I got into punkrock, and maybe because of that, when you strip away everything else (breaking music down to sub-genres, rock elitism etc), this sort of sincere desire at self-expression and creating something new is what rock, to me, is about. When Rock On depicted that, I was delighted and content.
@filmigirl: funny. it seems the film works best for people who have a real-live experience in playing rock gigs :D
and I also liked the farhan story-line best.
@women in rock-music: sorry but I have to go with filmigirl again. most local bands here (and I am a judge on the biggest rock-music contest in austria) have also mostly male members.
@stadion rock: Magik is not a stadion band but ok, SEL wrote some mighty fine 80ies hairband songs for them. Which I am very happy about btw. (huge Winger fan here)
I loved RockOn because it came pretty close to my own experiences. And obviously Farhans shower scene ;-)
I'm still going to give it a shot, of course-I'd watch for Farhan and Arjun alone!;)
Btw, ditto on Bollyviewer's comment about Arjun in The Last Lear--I was really impressed with him. Wasn't aware he could act so well! Not be mean, but...well...
I can't say if I recommend it or not-In all honesty I haven't written my own post on Lear yet because I'm not quite sure how I feel about it! Its definitely a good film-Preity does a great job as well, and its shorter in length, the dialouges seem well written. But I was left feeling a little like I did at the end of "Choker Bali"--like "ok, that was good, but what was the point, really?"-- Anyways, I'd love to read your review on it, so yes, you should totally watch!:)
As for DCH, I've been meaning to rewatch myself and wondering if my own opinion would change now. I saw it so early on in my Bollywatching days!