Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life Lessons from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania



At one point in the absolutely delightful Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Kavya's (Alia Bhatt's) grandmother says to her son (Ashutosh Rana), "Aaj kal rab ka apne bando pe control nahi raha, tu kisi ki kismat kya control karega." The grandmother is trying to explain to her obdurate son that he can control his children's life but he cannot control if his children will get happiness in life. He replies by saying that he did not control his elder daughter's life but they saw the consequences in that case when she was abused by her husband, and then again, his mother imparts some wisdom when she says, "Tu stamp paper pe sign kar ke de sakta hai ki Kavya kabhi nahi royegi?" It is a scene that imparts an obligatory lesson for all of us in our lives. The thought of ceding control is scary but the thing is that it is inevitable as we really cannot control our lives the way we want. If only it was actually possible. We can do whatever we want but we cannot guarantee that our actions will give us the intended consequences.


At an earlier point in the film, Angad (Sidharth Shukla) says to Humpty (Varun Dhawan) that he does not like to drink because he believes "peene ke baad insaan out of control ho jata hai, dimaag ke badle dil se sochne lagta hai. I like to be in control." Humpty, in his inimitable style, replies that they are Punjabis and that they think from the heart, not from the brain. It is another interesting reference on control that the film talks about. The fact that both Humpty and Kavya drink merrily in some ways points that both of them think from the heart and perhaps, are more suited for each other. Later, we actually see that in the film. When a bunch of shady men try to pass some objectionable comments on Kavya when she and Angad are on a date, she tells Angad to do something, and she also messages to Humpty that some men are harassing her. Humpty comes, and immediately, starts beating the goons. In contrast, Angad had silently called the police. So, Humpty thinks from his impulsive heart, and Angad thinks from his cautious brain, and we all know who almost always triumphs in this classic battle? Of course, the heart. 



There is another fabulous scene in the film that made me think a lot. One day, Angad does not turn up for jogging. Humpty, seeing an opportunity to take a potshot at Angad, asks about him from Kavya's father. Kavya's father replies that Angad does not jog to show-off. Humpty replies that he also does not run to show-off but he runs for Kavya as he wants to learn from the good habits of Angad to become a better person. Then, Kavya's father asks if he wants to be a good person, then, why does he smoke cigarettes. Humpty says that he smokes cigarettes only for himself and not for Kavya, and says, "Kavya ke liye main better insaan ban sakta hun, lekin badal nahi sakta hai." It is, again, an important message that the film, subliminally, tries to impart. Why should a person change himself because he is in love? Isn't love accepting the person's perfections and, more importantly, imperfections? One can always try to be a better person, but as Humpty says, that he cannot fundamentally change himself from what he is, just because his lover's father wants him to? That is why I had some serious doubts if Naina (Deepika Padukone) and Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) would ever be happy in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Bunny was trying to become who he was not, because of love. He wants to travel, but Naina cannot. I, really, want to know what happened to their lives five years later. Did Bunny become even more restless? Did Naina get happiness?   


In my favorite scene from the film, Humpty stands up to Kavya's father and he gives a convincing monologue on his suitability for Kavya. He says that the so-good-to-be-true Angad might be a big tree, and he admits he is a small plant, chhota sa, phuddu sa but is there any guarantee that Angad will keep Kavya happy? He might have imperfections, but the thing that he can guarantee is that he loves Kavya immensely. If there is one bread in the house, he will give half of it to Kavya and half of it to his own father, but he will not let her go sleep hungry. He might have a small brain, but he has a bigger heart. And, that bandey perfect nahi hote, rishtey perfect hote hain. Again, such wise words that Humpty speaks. One of the best things I liked about the film that it taught us to accept our own imperfections. Humpty is supposed to be the hero of the film, but rather, Angad is more suited to be one. Angad is a superman, and Humpty, as he says, is a Mowgli, but the film never tries to make Humpty as the hero, and it never tries to demean Angad's goodness. Angad is, genuinely, a good person. He cooks Italian food that will make him the head chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. He is even sensitive to gay rights, perhaps, more than Humpty himself, and that is unlike our masculine heroes in films, for whom any mention of the word gay invokes instant homophobia. Contrast this with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge from where the film takes the maximum inspiration. Kuljeet (Parmeet Sethi) was such a jerk that from the first scene itself where he comes back from hunting, we knew how he is going to treat Simran (Kajol) if, at all, they get married. Like the bird that Kuljeet shoots with his gun, Simran is going to be another shikaar for him. And, we root for Raj (Shah Rukh) even more. Raj was a superhero in that film. Recall the first few moments in that film, where he excels at every sport. While watching Humpty Shrama Ki Dulhania, I was, actually, thinking of Barfi. Remember that gut-wrenching scene where Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) realizes that Shruti (Ileana D'Cruz) will be much more happy with the person she is engaged to. That is why I, really, applauded Humpty's ability to accept his shortcomings, and that the only thing that mattered to him was that he loved Kavya. And as they said about Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) in Barfi, "Jhilmil ne soch samajh kar pyaar nahi kiya aur na usne pyaar ho jaane ke baad kuch socha samjha, usne sukh aur aaram ki zindagi beetane ke liye pyaar nahi kiya, usne bas pyaar kiya aur zindagi apne aap, sukh aur aaram se beetati gayi." Like Humpty says, "bandey perfect nahi hote, rishtey perfect hote hain." 


In another lovely scene, when being asked as to why she is wearing a local lehenga, Kavya replies, "Designer lehenga suit nahi kiya, mere liye local hi best hai, jab pyaar ki samajh nahi thi, to designer lehenga bahut important tha, aur jab pyaar ho gaya hai to uska koi mol nahi," and she wishes if she could replace the designer dulha with the local dhula. Beautiful thoughts again, and that all that matters are perfect relationships, howsoever, perfect or imperfect be the person. 



I also liked the portrayal of the women characters in the film. Like always, the women characters are much more smarter than the male characters. Though some serious questions have been raised over the docility of Kavya of not being able to stand up before her father, which is, actually, quite true, but otherwise, I felt the women characters were far more nuanced. In the song, Main Tenu Samjhawa Ki, we see Kavya's sister, Swati, driving a jeep dressed in a salwar-kameez. The fact that it is rural Ambala, a woman driving a jeep, is worth appreciating. After having a failed marriage, Kavya's sister opens an internet cafe. At one point, Kavya's mom says to Swati, "Kuch rishton ki umar hi choti hoti hai." It is not the end of the world if something like that happened to her, and even after what happened to her, Swati still has faith in love. That is why she asks Kavya if she loves Humpty. Swati does get sad, sometimes, but she never stopped living. She is an independent woman. Another women character, Kavya's mom, is not afraid to speak her mind to her husband. Recall Lajjo (Farida Jalal) in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. She knows the intransigence of her husband, and she knows that she cannot make any decision without him. When Simran wants to go to Europe, she cannot even give permission for that. In that deeply moving scene near the window, she says to Simran, "Jab tu paida hui, to maine apne aap se ek vaada kar liya tha ki jo mere saath hua, vo meri beti ke saath nahi hoga, lekin main to bhool hi gayi thi aurat ko vaada karne ka bhi koi haq hai." She calls Raj and Simran to her room, and gives them the only thing she owns—her jewelry—and tells them to run away. In contrast, here, Kavya's mom knows her husband is the decision maker of the family, but she still speaks her mind in front of him. She is not afraid to say to her husband about Humpty, "Aap hi jaisa hai vo, uski aankhen sachi hai." And, Kavya, too, is a strong woman. She is manipulative in some ways, like the way she knows how to extract a good bargain from her father. (Critics say that if she could do that, why not also convince her father to marry the groom of her choice. That is no doubt true, but again, I go back into the realistic versus regressive debate. Maybe she knows her father's power well, that if she rebels, he might harm Humpty.) She is a small-time fraudster. She sells diesel after stealing it from her father's trucks. She has great business ideas when she says utli khopdi hun, bahut idea hai mere paas. She knows how to make a quick buck when she asks money from Humpty for making him pass his examination (though she needs to increase her price, even Humpty laughed it off when she agreed for Rs.10,000 when he said anyone would have paid Rs. 50,000 at least). She hatches a plan to con a man and woman, but when the plan is successful, she returns the conned woman's wedding jewelry, writing even a sorry note for her, because she is not that heartless. She drinks more and even beats Humpty in a drinking competition. Tu bottle sunghda rahega, aur meri khatam bhi ho jayegi. She is not afraid to spend the night alone with three guys in a shop. Recall how Simran got scared when she got drunk when she thought that she and Raj slept with each other. Here, she says, "Pi hui thi, memory loss nahi hua tha." Later, Humpty and Kavya sleep together, but it is not a pivotal scene in the film. It is something normal, and the next day, Kavya just moves on. We have seen in so many films where the post-coital scene changes women characters. In Band Baaja Baaraat, a strong women like Shruti (Anushkha Sharma) assumes automatically that Bittoo (Ranveer Singh) is in love with her. Kavya and Humpty are in love, but they just sleep together, and would move on. If Humpty had not come to Ambala, Kavya would have got married. The sex is something as mundane as a hug. Hindi films are finally growing up. 





There is also an underlying message of true friendship in the film, too. Humpty and his two friends—Shonty and Poplu—are, truly, brothers from another mothers. I was completely charmed by the friendship the trio had among themselves. These friends never judged each other and the choices their friends made, howsoever, inappropriate those might be. Only true friends would contribute money for something as silly as a lehenga so that their friend can fulfill the promise he made to a girl, who is not even his girlfriend in the first place. Shonty and Poplu would go to Ambala with him, and would get beaten up by goons, but still they will again go back with him and will always be there for him. I was, at times, irritated by Humpty that why does he not stand up and protect his friends, and why does he treat them like that, but there was some redemption in the last scene when he, actually, threatened Kavya's father that if he hit his friends any more, he would pay back. That is what true friends are. And, Poplu's T-shirts and his one liners were killer. At one point, he says, "Bina touch kar ke feel kaise aati hai, main samjha nahi aaj tak." Such wise words, even I want to know that.



Everyone who has seen the film is talking of the inspiration from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. There are also references to many Dharma Productions and Yashraj films, such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Veer Zaara, Dostana, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Main Hoon Na (in a scene in the title song reminded me of Percy). But these references are quite pronounced. But there are two more films where the film takes it inspiration from. They are Maine Pyar Kiya and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. There are some scenes which were exactly like those films. In Maine Pyar Kiya, Suman's (Bhagyashree's) father is a mechanic. Here also, Kavya's father is a mechanic. In that film, Suman's father had set some conditions, here also the same. At one point, even the song Dil Deewana Bin Sajna Ke Maane Na plays confirming which film is it alluding to. The film is a lovely tribute to these films, but it never every copies these films, but gives its own interpretation to them. Like the scene, when Humpty and his friends say, "Jab hero fail hota hai na, toh uska bapu Oh Pochi, Oh Goga karke, bhej deta hai use holiday in London, main fail ho gaya na, to mera bapu pichwade laat dharega aur bolega dukaan pe baith." Or another scene, where Raj and Simran's father bonded over feeding the pigeons, here, Humpty and Kavya's father bond over having a smoke together. In one blink and miss scene, Humpty even tries to copy how Kavya's father smokes, like Raj copied the way Simran's father fed pigeons. 






I have really started to love both Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. Their chemistry is so good. They both are terrific in the film, which made me like the film even more. Alia is on a roll. She is a star. At one point in the film, she is cutting the picture of Kareena Kapoor from a magazine (again, as I have written before whether film stars are playing themselves in films?). Alia has said many times in interviews that she considers Kareena as her idol. Kareena is a great actress, but her choice of films is so bad that it perplexes me as to why she is always doing Rs.100 crore films. I hope Alia does not follow that path. That is why I cannot wait for Ayan Mukerji's next film with Ranbir Kapoor, and Alia Bhatt—all my favorite people. But, I love, like really, love Varun and Alia's scenes in the movie. In the end, it made me even shed a tear. The things that love forces the people to do. I guess love might be a very beautiful feeling, and those who experience it are truly blessed.




Dialogue(s) of the day:
"100% original fake hai ji."
— Shopkeeper, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya

"Friend request bheju to despo, nahi bheju to attitude. Bhai, bhola ladka kare to kya kare."

— Humpty, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rockstar: Away from the Wrong-doing and the Right-doing



Fifteen minutes into Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar, Khatana Bhai (Kumud Mishra) says to Janardhan Jhakar (Ranbir Kapoor), "Toote hue dil se hi sangeet nikalta hai, jab dil ki lagti hai na, tukde tukde hote hain, tab aati hai jhankaar." A few seconds later, Janardhan, holding a Cinthol soap in his hand, looks at the posters of the famous musicians, such as Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Kurt Gobain, and says that these people have suffered a lot of pain in their lives. He wonders that, in contrast to them, he has had no pain in life and has never faced any problems. He never had to beg for food, never struggled for anything, his parents are still alive, he was not beaten as a child, he was not molested, and he is not even adopted. He is disappointed by the numerous comforts of his life and believes that if he remains like this, he would never become a big star. Little did he realize that some time later, he will be begging to go back to those same comforts that he had dismissed and will be regretting his wish for some pain in his life. Rockstar, then, takes us on a journey, depicting the metamorphosis of Janardhan into Jordan, from an unknown Pritampura Jat boy to one of the biggest musical sensations in the world, and this journey, like any Imtiaz Ali film, spans not only continents, and time periods, but also, spiritual realms.  


Imtiaz Ali's name is synonymous with love stories. All his films revolve around that complex emotion called love. In Rockstar, Imtiaz takes inspiration from one of the most famous love stories of the yore — Heer-Ranjha. In Rockstar, the heroine is named Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri) after Heer herself, and if we think, Janardhan is actually a distorted anagram of the word Ranjha, making it clear to us that this is a modern interpretation of that classic story. In fact, Wikipedia tells us Ranjha's full name was Dheedo Ranjha. He was a Jat of the Ranjha clan, and also was the youngest of four brothers in his family. Being his father's favorite son, unlike his brothers who had to toil in the lands, he led a life of ease playing the flute. After a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home. He arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. She is mesmerized by the way he plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's family who is, then, forced to marry another man. Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until eventually he becomes a 'jogi', and later, both of them die. This, in essence, is the story of Rockstar as well. Janardhan (notice how the name Dheedo Ranjha fits perfectly now) is also a Jat, and he leaves his home as his brothers throw him out after accusing him of stealing family money. He falls in love with his college friend Heer, who gets married to someone else. By fate, he goes to meet her and realizes his immense love for her. After sometime, Heer starts suffering from an incurable disease, and not able to withstand his separation from her, Jordan takes refuge in music. Imtiaz Ali's previous film, Love Aaj Kal, gave a contemporary look on love. In that film, Meera's (Deepika Padukone) profession of art restoration referred to giving love a new look; in Rockstar, Imtiaz himself takes up that profession and gives us a contemporary version of Heer-Ranjha. With a bit of digression, I am curious by Imtiaz Ali's treatment of his heroines. All his female characters have a double 'e' in their names—Geet (Jab We Met), Meera (Love Aaj Kal), Harleen (Love Aaj Kal), Heer (Rockstar), and Veera (Highway)—the only exception being Socha Na Tha where the heroine is named Aditi. I do not know if it is a conscious decision by him or not, but clearly there is a pattern. And, all his heroines are either married or engaged to the wrong guy at first. No exceptions here. It is only later that his female characters realize the person that they actually love. I am fascinated by such patterns and quirks in a filmmaker. 


Rockstar begins by paying a tribute to Shammi Kapoor. The film shows us a lovely poster with the word Yahoo! written in a ribbon-style, referring to the most iconic song Yahoo from his film Junglee. It is as if Shammi Kapoor is a symbolic representation of the film's title Rockstar. The similarity of Shammi Kapoor's dancing style with Elvis Presley made him no less than a rockstar. Isn't it some fabulous play of the gods that the man's last film was Rockstar, just like Yash Chopra's was Jab Tak Hai Jaan? Not only the poster, the film pays a tribute to Shammi Kapoor by referring some of his films. At one point in the film, when the lecherous friends of Janardhan are likening the unmatched beauty of Heer with that of Kashmir, there is a picture of her behind which is written Kashmir Ki Kali, and we all know, Kashmir Ki Kali, was one of the most popular films of Shammi Kapoor. This explains the reasoning behind Heer belonging to Kashmir, and her being called Kashmir Ki Kali. In fact, later, we see an imitation of the song Tareef Karu Kya Uski from the same film, done by Heer and Janardhan on the Dal Lake, like Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor did in the original. 


Heer is Kashmir Ki Kali


Shammi Kapoor also plays a small role in the film. He is Ustaad Jameel Khan and is a famous shehnai player. He sees Janardhan singing in the Niazumuddin dargah, and comes to Platinum Records office and advises Dhingra to put the money on him because he knows that Janardhan has God's blessing. He says that Janardhan is God's child and will make his own music some day, and that, he is a bada janwar who will not fit into a chota pinjra. What I found intriguing was the presence of two guards with Ustaad Jameel Khan. The two guards were always with him, and they were dressed in the exact same colored clothes. Even their hair styles were made similar. I am not familiar with Islamic culture but I felt it was related to the concept of guardian angels. Many people believe that God assigns guardian angels to protect and guide them throughout their lifetimes on Earth. Muslims, sometimes, say As-sallamu Alaykum while looking at their left and right shoulders as they believe that their guardian angels reside there. This belief comes from Quran, which says, "Behold, two guardian angels appointed to learn a man’s doings learn and note them, one sitting on the right and one on the left. Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready to note it." Were the two guards, who were always with Ustaad, his guardian angels, too? Just like Janardhan has God's blessing, the same way Ustaad has it as well, and the guardian angels were representing that? Moreover, Ustaad has green prayer beads in his hand, so there is definitely some connection.



Guardian Angels

Later, we see in one of the most moving scenes of the film, Khatana Bhai, after he sees Janardhan singing in a brothel, gives a lecture to him on the road and says that the way he is behaving, his popularity is taking a nosedive. In fact, the exact opposite was happening. People gathered all around Janardhan and were screaming his name. Then, Janardhan says that he does not want to be big and wants to go back to what he was. It is as if bugs are biting him every single minute and he cannot bear it anymore. He goes and meets his old friends from college who are not interested in talking to him but only want to click a picture with him. These all instances depict the dichotomy of fame and that is why, a few seconds after this scene, we see a song that is called Dichotomy of Fame where Ustaad and Janardhan are in a jugalbandi. The song's title and placement is perfectly thought about. Dichotomy is one of my favorite words, which is clear as this blog's title also contains the same word. It means a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different, like the Western guitar, and the Indian shehnai. Janardhan's wish of going back to being small when he was actually a big star, or his old friends only wanting to click pictures with him represent the dichotomy of fame. That you have everything, and yet you have nothing. And, that you had nothing, but had everything. That is the price of fame. Again, were the two guards a representation of some sort of this dichotomy? These were some of the most thought provoking and poignant scenes in the film. I was instantly reminded of the contrast with Luck By Chance, where Shah Rukh gives the advice to Vikram (Farhan Akhtar), "Unhe mat bhoolo jo tumhe tab jaante the jab tum kuch nahi the, kyunki yahi log hamesha tumhe sach bolenge." Here, Janardhan remembers them all but his friends do not want to talk to him. 





Dichotomy of Fame

In Love Aaj Kal, Imtiaz portrayed his understanding of love. Jai (Saif Ali Khan) and Meera (Deepika Padukone) broke-up because they were moving to different regions but, in reality, they never broke-off. Meera, at one point, talks about Jai and wonders about "Yeh tum vali feeling, aadat." In Rockstar, Heer says the exact same thing. Lying on her bed, she says to her husband that she crossed the line and in spite of knowing that she was betraying him, she could not control herself and, then, says, "Chali jayegi yeh feeling." When Meera is getting married to Vikram (Rahul Khanna), she knows that she is doing something wrong. Jai comes right before her wedding and asks her about them. Here also, Heer knows she is in love with Jordan just about the time when she is getting married. In one lovely scene, she even asks him to hug her. Later, dressed in her wedding gown, she randomly says to him, "Haan", even when he had not asked her any question. And then, Jordan, jokingly, asks her, if she is in love with him. She looks at him, and in her heart she knows she is but she, simply, changes the topic. Like in Love Aaj Kal, they were not able to live apart and move on. Here also, they thought they will forget each other but they could not. In fact, the love between Heer and Jordan is so strong that when they are apart, they, actually, fall apart. She starts getting sick, and he starts becoming violent. The relationship of Meera and Jai provides the contours of the relationship of Heer and Jordan. Imtiaz magnifies the scale of that relationship to a more passionate Sanjay Leela Bhansali-type style. In fact, at times, I got a distinct feeling that I am watching a Bhansali film. The filming of Rockstar in the opera house in Prague had a grand Bhansali Guzaarish type touch. It is as if Rockstar is a reverse Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. In Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, a married Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) travels to Europe to find her former musician lover Sameer (Salman Khan). In Rockstar, the musician Jordan travels to Europe to meet his former-but-now married lover, Heer. Just like the Chain Bridge of Hungary that was shown prominently in the climax of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam where Nandini runs to meet Vanraj (Ajay Devgan) half-way; in Rockstar, Jordan runs over to meet Heer half-way on the famous Charles Bridge; the bridge symbolizes the love that binds both the lovers and that they have to come and meet half-way. Recall that in Love Aaj Kal, the bridges were quintessential. Most of the conversations of Veer and Jai happened near a bridge. Most of the film's scenes were shot near a bridge. Even the iconic poster of the movie showed the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge was connecting the love of the aaj and the kal, the present and the past. Howrah bridge was shown for the love kal as it is located in the East, and the Golden Gate bridge was shown for the love aaj as it is located in the West—symbolizing that old love was more traditional and oriental, and the modern day love has more of Western influences. Another similarity between Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar was that the husbands of both Meera and Heer are understanding of the love choices of their respective wives. And, if these Love Aaj Kal references were not enough, there is even a mata ki bhent titled Sherawali Sherawali Ambe Maa that Jordan plays in Rockstar that takes its tune from Thoda Thoda Pyar from Love Aaj Kal. That is why I felt Rockstar was a concoction of Heer-Ranjha and Love Aaj Kal, utilizing the grand vignettes, like that of Bhansali. There is even a Czech folk style dance number called Hawaa Hawaa like the Hungarian tap dance in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.




Love Aaj Kal



Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

There is another fabulous aspect of Imtiaz Ali's notion of love in Rockstar. At one point, Jordan says to Heer, "Tujhe samajh nahi aayi, yeh kuch aur hai jo tujhe aur mujhe saath la raha hai, reh nahi na paaye alag, main aaj itni badi hasti hun, star hun main, itne saare paise hain mere paas, main famous hun, par andar sirf pata hai jalan hai mere andar, bechaini hai, main sirf tere saath hi set hun yaar, itni si baat hai, aur tu bhi vahi, mere saath nahi hoti to koi jaan leva bimaari ho jati hai tujhe, khoon banna band ho jata hai tera." After they stay together for sometime, Heer starts getting better. The doctor even calls it a miracle. What is also interesting that Jordan, unlike a conventional rockstar, does not take any drugs and alcohol. It is as if the film is telling us that love is a drug for both of them. She starts getting cured of her disease by his love; and he is not addicted to any psychotropic substance, but Heer is his drug that gives him a high and cures him of his jalan. But, again, when someone takes too much of a drug, it is harmful, the same way when they became too obsessed and even made love with each other, in spite of Heer's terrible health, they sowed the seeds for their destruction. The love drug has its consequences when she went into a coma because she was most likely pregnant and later, most probably, dies.


Early in the film, Janardhan remarks to his friends that Jim Morrison once showed a middle finger to the entire crowd in his concert, and here, all he was doing was entertaining some people at the bus stop and the police starts beating him. Of course, he idolizes Jim Morisson. Like the name Janardhan is a distorted anagram of Raanjha, the name Jordan is adapted from Jim Morrison. Later in the climax, we see that just before going to court, he shows a middle finger to the entire world, as if he is now able to understand the pain and the suffering of Jim. He has also become like his idols, whose posters he put in his room, and shares the common traits that binds them all—grief, desolation, heartbreak, and despair. Not only Raanjha, Jordan's character was inspired by Jim Morrison's.  In one of the most beautiful scenes of the film, during the song Nadaan Parindey, Jordan is sitting in a bathtub, and he sees a burning guitar. The burning guitar was a representation of his soul burning because of Heer's health. She is in a coma because of him and he feels helpless without her. At one point earlier in the film, he had even called Heer a guitar. The burning guitar was as if his Heer who is his soul is slowly dying. If we do some research, Jim Morrison was found death in a bathtub. Like his idol, Jordan also thought of dying. In fact, there is an article that was published before the film's release. It says, "Ranbir Kapoor's on-screen death in the upcoming Rockstar could shock fans, it has been reported. The lead character of the film, which updates the tragic romance Devdas, is reportedly modeled on Jim Morrison. The script's climax originally has Ranbir's character performing on stage and dying while doing so." In the film, we do not see him dying. Maybe Imtiaz Ali changed his mind at the last minute, but this confirms the bathtub connection to that of Jim Morrison. I also think Jordan eventually died which I explain further.




Jordan = Jim Morrison

The film begins with a quote of Rumi, "Pata hai, yahan se bahut door, galat aur sahi ke paar, ek maidan hai, main vahaan milunga tujhe," which means, "Away beyond all concepts of wrong-doing and right-doing, There is a field. I'll meet you there." Heer and Jordan were not fit for this world. It is only when they will go away from this world that they could be together. This world has only given them despair. In another beautiful scene in the climax, Heer and Jordhan put a white bed sheet over themselves, and Heer says that this is their world, away from everyone, away from the journalists, away from the photographers, away from the society, away from the suffocating rules, away from the Bone Marrow Aplasia, away from the hospital, away from the doctors, away from the contracts, away from the court cases, and away from her marriage. There is nothing to stop them in this world, there are no limits and no bondages. The world sees everything in antipodal terms—positive and negative (that is why Dhingra names one of Jordan's album as Negative). Then, Jordan says that he will not be able to live outside. Heer says that they anyway do not have to stay outside. The white bed sheet was symbolic of the heavenly and pure shield that they want to build for themselves, away from the right-doing and the wrong-doing. In the final scene of the film, we again see the Rumi quote—this time in words—where Heer and Jordan are holding their hands together and singing Tum Ko Paa Hi Liya. There are no more barriers between them and they are, at last, together. Bandishe naa rahi, koi baatein tum ko, tum ko paa hi liya. That is why I felt that both of them died and went to heaven, away from everything. We never see their deaths, even Heer is supposedly in coma but we see her spirit in the concert, but the deaths expressed are quite subtle and understated. And, as Heer and Ranjha died in the original story, our Heer and Jordan, thus, had to die.









Away from negative and positive


And as always, a paragraph that I always write while blogging about any Imtiaz Ali film. Whether it is Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, or Highway—all his films involve some element of a journey involving travelling to different places, and these places could even be spiritual zones. In Rockstar, we see we travel to different places. Imtiaz always does such a terrific job of depicting the beauty of India. The scenes in Kashmir are fabulously shot. Also, Jordan's albums are names Sheher — A Journey and Banjaraanama, both of which are referring to journey (what else!). Even his concert is named Wings of Fire and there is a leitmotif of flight in the songs Phir Se Ud Chala, Kun Faya Kun, and Nadaan Parindey. At one point, he says that he is looking for the birds that flew away when the jungle was cut. Rockstar is, in many ways, a spiritual journey of Jordan where he gets freed from the worldly inhibitions, and goes to form his own world with Heer. As I talked about the concept of symmetry in his films, there is a similar template in Rockstar as well. The beginning and the ending with the Rumi quote, the repeat of the hug scenes, the depiction of the middle finger scenes show this concept. But what is different is the non-linear narrative style of the film. It is not a flashback, the film goes back and forth, and leaves it to the audience to figure out the pieces. At one point in the film, in Heer's classroom, The Odyssey is written on the board. The word odyssey means journey and is also an epic poem that centers on the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy, just like Rockstar.





Journey

I was deliberately avoiding writing on the music. I had tried to analyse the music of Highway, where each and every song of the film related to some aspect of Veera's journey. But in Rockstar, the music is so deep and so enriching that I do not have the ability to analyze and write it in words. I really wish I understood music a little better. AR Rehman's music, Irshad Kamil's lyrics, and Mohit Chahuhan's voice conjure some Sufi magic. My favorite was Phir Se Ud Chala, which I liked it more than Kun Faya Kun. Both are splendid compositions. Jab kahin pe kuch nahi, bhi nahi tha, vahi tha, vahi tha—When even nothingness existed, he only existed. Such a beautiful line is this. The songs are placed in line with the mood of the film, going from a playful Katiya Karun and cheerful Phir Se Ud Chala, to a more serious Meri Bebasi Ka Bayan, and finally the cilmactic Nadan Parindey. I might be wrong but there is again something common between the songs. In Phir Se Ud Chala, there are the following lines:

Phir dhuaan dhuaan, dum bhar har badli chali aati hai chhoone
Par koi badli kabhi kahin kar de tan geela ye bhi na ho
Kisi manzar par main ruka nahi
Kabhi khud se bhi mein mila nahi
Ye gila to hai main khafa nahi
Shehar ek se gaa'nv ek se
Log ek se naam ek ooo..

Again some cloud, filled with smoke, comes to touch
but some cloud might get my body wet, it never happens
I never stopped at any scenery,
I never met even myself,
I have this complaint but I am not angry,
all cities are same, villages same,
people are same and same names..

Notice the line where he talks about that the clouds were not able to make his body wet and that he never met himself. In Kun Faya Kun, we have the following lines, 

Sajra Savera Mere Tan Barse
Kajra Andhera Teri Jalti Lau
Qatra Mila Jo Tere Dar Par Se
O Maula… Maula…

O Mujhpe Karam Sarkar Tera
Araz Tujhe, Karde Mujhe, Mujhse Hi Riha
Ab Mujhko Bhi Ho, Deedaar Mera
Karde Mujhe, Mujhse Hi Riha
Mujhse Hi Riha

The morning showers rain on me
And it cleans up the dark soul of mine which is like darkness of night.
Its only for the drop of nourishment that flows from yours,
Oh Lord, 
It would be your generosity upon me, Oh master
My request, Free me from myself
Even I should see myself
Make me free from myself
From myself

Again, notice the lines where he says that when he got a drop from the master, he got cleansed, where as earlier even the cloud could not clean him. He also talks that he wants to get freed from himself here, just like earlier where he said he has not met himself, but now he wants to see himself and get free.

Finally, in Nadaan Parindey, we have the following lines,

Kaate chahe jitna paron se hawa ko
Khud se na bach payega tu
Tod aasmanon ko phoonk de jahanon ko
Khud ko chhhupa na payega tu
Koi bhi le rasta
Tu hai tu bebasta
Apne hi ghar aayega tu

However much you cut the winds with your wings
You'll not be able to fend yourself from yourself
Break the skies and burn the worlds
But you can't hide yourself
Whatever path you take
You are homeless
You will come to your home only

Now, he is calling the bird that flew in Phir Se Ud Chala to come back home. Again, some lines talk about that you cannot escape from yourself. Was this an answer to his plea to make him free from himself in Kun Faya Kun? That you can see yourself but you cannot run away from your own self? These are some of the deepest songs.

Some trivia:

The clerk of Hotel Decent of Jab We Met, and the taxi driver of Love Aaj Kal, becomes a music producer in Rockstar.




Books In Movies:


Jordan's friend carries Studies in Sikhism and Comparative Religion

Subtitle Credits: I want to become a subtitler


There is a Reliance Laundry as well!


Imtiaz Ali also pays a tribute to Kanti Shah. And, yes, the film with the poster of Ravi Kishan called Rangbaaz Daroga is a real film starring him and is available on YouTube.




At one point, Heer's mom says, "Hum samajhte hain hum zindagi ko jaante hai, lekin zindagi humein surprise de deti hai." That was the way I felt while watching the film. It continued to surprise me by its emotional and spiritual depth. At one point, Jordan says to Heer's mom, "Main nahi ja paaunga." Sometimes, I wonder if passionate love, such as this, really exists? I have never even experienced the normal love and I don't think I am the sort of person who can love anyone for that matter, forget passionate love. I am a very selfish person. But I really want to know the things that drives these filmmakers  to make a film on something so intangible. Is it their personal experience? How do they get such pensive instincts? In the DVD edition, Imtiaz writes, "The film wanted to get itself made. It decided when it wanted to get made, how it wanted to get made and by who. I decided to never to get in its way. Because I always knew that this film was bigger than me." Perhaps that is the true characteristic of great filmmakers. As Ustaad Jameel Khan says about Jordan, "Is par uska (khuda) ka haath hai, uski inayat hai." That is true for some of our filmmakers as well. 

This film shows yet again why Ranbir Kapoor is one of the finest actors of this generation. I have so much more to write on so many films, I wish I had God's inayat as well.

Earlier thoughts on Imtiaz Ali's films on the blog here:
Jab We Met: Link
Love Aaj Kal: Link
Highway: Link


Dialogue of the Day:
"Mujhe ye sab kuch nahi chahiye, mujhe nahi banna bada, mera dil nahi tootna chahiye, Khatana Bhai, mera dil nahi tootna chahiye, please kuch karo, mere paas aur kuch nahi hai."
— Jordan, Rockstar