There's absolutely no doubt that Farhan Akhtar and Excel Films belong to the top tier of the movie production market. All it took was the classic legacy of Dil Chahta Hai, and the rest was, as they say...history! Well, seven years later and Farhan Akhtar relives parts of DCH with a film that enthralls, while still standing firmly on its own two feet.
Similar to Dil Chahta Hai, ROCK ON!! revolves around the tremendous power of friendship and the pressures and tension that comes along with it. But to take some of the pressure off of the seriousness of the subject, the screenplay is liberated through the theme of music, in the form of Magik – a collegiate rock band made up of four best friends out to make it big.
Director Abhishek Kapoor delivers an ace with his sophomore effort after Aryan - The Unbreakable. His execution of the entire film is of utter beauty. However, he shines the brightest in the emotionally intense sequences between the four leads, especially Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) and Joe (Arjun Rampal). The screenplay is brilliance personified. From the smooth transitions between past and present, to the suspense factor carried throughout, the writing does full justice to the story, all the while keeping you fully engaged. Special mention must be also given to the director and the cameraman for a spectacular climactic concert sequence. Must watch!
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are almost just as important as the lead actors themselves, as their music is another character within the script. Their rock influenced soundtrack fits the mood with great ambiance in a non-intrusive way. Farhan Akhtar is a revelation as he debuts as playback singer. The two tracks that over-shine the rest are the pair of soft tunes that appear towards the end, "Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein" and "Phir Dekhiye." There's no question that Farhan Akhtar, yet again, gives SEL another work to update their resume with.
The four lead performances are absolutely mesmerizing. Let's start with the surprise talent that just explodes all over ROCK ON!! – Farhan Akhtar. The guy has been holding back on us all along. His performance as Aditya Shroff, the lead singer/distraught corporate executive, is one of the most challenging characters we've seen this year. His emotional balance and character development is a sight for sore eyes. Kudos to the writers for composing a role so complex, yet so real.
Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny are slightly overshadowed as KD (drummer) and Rob, aka D Minor (keyboardist). Nevertheless, they compliment Rampal and Akhtar with unbelievable character support. Purab Kohli continues his effort to prove he is amongst the best actors the nation has. Both have their own complexities that have been conveyed superbly.
Prachi Desai, as Sakshi (Aditya's wife), is an absolute treat that unfolds on screen. Her perfect balance between love and frustration is played out beautifully. Her supporting performances has gone wrongly unnoticed. Shahana Goswami as the Joe's jealous, angry wife Debbie, continues the trend of high quality in the film's star cast.
ROCK ON!! is one of the best films of the year. Not quite at the level of Dil Chahta Hai (but then again, what is?), ROCK ON!! is a sensational tale of friendship, love, passion, and the relentless struggle to find one's identity. Farhan Akhtar and director Abhishek Kapoor give us a treat to savor for years to come.
Aakash Gandhi is Managing Editor & Senior Writer for for Planet Bollywood. He also freelances for the Asian Variety Show at avstv.com.