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Rockstar (2011 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Imtiaz Ali
Produced by Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd
Eros International
Story by Imtiaz Ali
Muazzam Beg
Starring Ranbir Kapoor
Nargis Fakhri
Shammi Kapoor
Moufid Aziz
Piyush Mishra
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Anil Mehta
Edited by Aarti Bajaj
Distributed by

Eros International

Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • 11 November 2011 (2011-11-11)[1]
Running time
159 minutes[2]
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 600 million[3]
Box office 1.08 billion[4]

Rockstar is a 2011 Indian musical romantic drama film directed by Imtiaz Ali, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri, with music composed by A. R. Rahman. The film also stars Moufid Aziz, Aditi Rao Hydari, Piyush Mishra, Shernaz Patel, Kumud Mishra in supporting roles, and also Shammi Kapoor, who makes his last silver screen appearance. The film was produced by Eros International Ltd. along with Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd. It follows Janardhan Jakhar a.k.a. JJ or Jordan, who dreams of becoming a rockstar like his inspiration, Jim Morrison. Yet, eventually on attaining all that he dreamt of, Jordan ends up anguished and despondent without Heer Kaul, whom he so fiercely, passionately loved.

Development of Rockstar commenced in May 2010. Nargis Fakhri was cast as the female lead, after plans to give the role to Kareena Kapoor were shelved. Filming in India took place at Delhi, Kashmir, Mumbai and Dharamsala, while the foreign sequences were shot in Prague and Liberec, Czech Republic.[5][6]

Rockstar was released on 11 November 2011. On the day of release, Tibetans in Chennai and Dharmasala protested against the Central Board of Film Certification for asking the film-makers to censor scenes featuring the Tibetan flag. Upon release, the film received positive to mixed reviews.[7] Critics highlighted Kapoor and Rahman as the stars of the film, but panned the plot. The film did well at the box office, managing to appeal the youngsters in the cities.[8] Made on a budget of 600 million (US$8.9 million), Rockstar grossed 1.08 billion (US$16 million) worldwide.[4] Kapoor and Rahman received numerous awards for their work in the film.


The film opens up by showing a large crowd outside the Verona Arena, Italy, with eager fans queuing for the rock concert of Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor). Jordan, who was being attacked by thugs moments ago, manages to escape and reach the arena. He shows a complete disregard for his fans, storms onto the stage in a fit of rage and starts strumming his guitar.

A flashback shows the story of Jordan, when he was Janardhan Jhakar a.k.a. JJ, a simple Jat from, Delhi, a student in Hindu College who dreams of becoming a big star and gets laughed at by his friends for that. Khatana, a canteen owner (Kumud Mishra), tells him that the only way melody can be produced is by undergoing trauma via a heartbreak. Janardhan jokingly tells himself that since he hasn't seen bad times, he hasn't been able to reach his idol's (Jim Morrison) level of fame. He goes to the performance of Heer Kaul (Nargis Fakhri), a Kashmiri Pandit girl, one of the girls in St. Stephens College, and overhears that she is the "perfect heartbreaking machine". Instantly deciding to propose to her, he suffers humiliation, which he deciphers as the perfect method for receiving the "heart-break" and the key to "fame". However, they both become good friends, hanging out together and doing things like drinking desi liquor and watching a B-grade Hindi film called "Junglee Jawaani".

Heer marries Jai (Moufid Aziz) in Kashmir and departs to Prague with him. During the process, she develops feelings for JJ and coins the name "Jordan" for him before leaving. JJ returns home finds himself thrown out by his elder brother for attending Heer’s wedding and stealing 5,00,000, which he actually did not take as he points out that the money has been stolen several times even in his absence. He takes refuge for two months in the nearby Nizamuddin Dargah, singing qawwalis and finally to Khatana's place, making it his home.

Ustad Jameel Khan (Shammi Kapoor), a Padma Bhushan classical artist, remembers JJ singing at the Dargah, and prompts Dhingra (Piyush Mishra), the owner of a music company called "Platinum Records", to sign JJ as he foresees a bright future for him. When Sheena (Aditi Rao Hydari), a journalist interviewing Jordan as a rockstar, hints to Jordan that Dhingra intends to send some artists to Prague for a tour and recordings, he instantly volunteers to work there to reunite with Heer.

Heer, meanwhile, suffers from continuous spurts of health problems. She meets JJ, and after a while of intimacy, when he tries to profess his love for her, Heer, being married, spurns his advances. Heer warns him to stay away from her and he decides to say "bye" one last time before departing for India. While doing so, Jordan trespasses on Heer’s property and is arrested by cops and escorted off the premise. While doing so, Heer collapses in the presence of everyone. Upon being deported back to India, he is overwhelmed by the media attention he receives. Frustrated, JJ clashes with the media and the Indian Police, resulting in a term in jail. Dhingra becomes happy about the publicity he has received because of JJ, as it has helped the sale of his records.

After being released, JJ goes on a country-wide tour for his concerts. He becomes famous as 'Jordan', and cancels the contract with Dhingra's company. He is now truly a 'Rockstar', which he wanted to be. He has fame, money, music, everything he craved for. But inside, he has become a lonely man. He constantly gets into fights with the media, which reveals he has become arrogant. His friends, who earlier made fun of him in college, now use his fame to click photos with him, which disturbs him. Khatana is now his manager, but fails to control him. In spite of all this, Jordan is highly popular among his fans.

Jordan meets Heer's younger sister Mandy (Sanjana Sanghi) during one of his performances. She asks him to help Heer, as she has been diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. When Jordan goes to meet her, her mother, Neena Kaul (Shernaz Patel), gets angry and asks him to leave her house as she is aware of his past with Heer. To everyone's surprise, Heer starts recovering quickly due to Jordan's presence. He starts to spend more time with her disregarding all his work. Khatana requests Heer to persuade him to attend his concerts. During a visit to Kangra Valley, Heer accompanies him to one of his concerts where the media links them, portraying her as having an affair despite being married. Heer asks Jordan to take some time off and first finish his work before coming back to her. Her condition worsens ; she slowly slips into a coma, and is discovered to be pregnant with Jordan's child. Mandy calls him for one last time hoping that she will recover. However, her condition only worsens. Jordan goes while she is in a coma and realises that this time she is really gone. Heer dies offscreen, and a quick montage of shots follow, where Jordan is seen bearing the pain of heartbreak and becoming a famous international rockstar.

The movie then goes back to where it began with Jordan, now as famous as his idol Jim Morrison, singing "Nadaan Parindey" in Verona Arena, Italy. While performing, Jordan sees a vision of Heer walking on the stage towards him, smiling lovingly. As he watches her with desperate tears, the audience cheers on, oblivious to his anguish. The film finishes by recapping all of the happy times the couple spent together, ending with a line from Mawlana Jalal-ud-Din Rumi's poem: "Away, beyond all concepts of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there".




The male lead of Rockstar is played by Ranbir Kapoor, with whom Eros International worked previously on Anjaana Anjaani. His role of Jordan is loosely based on Imtiaz Ali's Jat friend, who lived in a small settlement in Pitam Pura.[9] He had seen Kareena Kapoor's performance in his Jab We Met and wanted to cast her in the film. However, the script required some romantic scenes between the leads. As Ranbir and Kareena happened to be cousins, this was touted as a problem. Moreover, the filmmakers did not want to replace Ranbir with any other actor as the character he portrayed was reportedly suitable only for him. They then made a joint decision to replace Kapoor with Nargis Fakhri, after initially approaching Sonam Kapoor and Diana Penty for the replacement.[10][11][12] Voice actor Mona Ghosh Shetty dubbed for Fakhri. The film marked Shammi Kapoor's last appearance in a feature film; he died on 14 August 2011.[13]


The shooting for Rockstar began in May 2010. A major part of the shooting took place in Kashmir at Kulgam, Kupwara and Srinagar, while the last phase was shot in Delhi at places like the Kotla Mubarakpur, Nizamuddin Dargah, Greater Kailash, Munirka, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Amity School (deleted scenes), Connaught Place, Shri Ram College of Commerce, BL Kapoor Hospital, Rajendra Nagar, St. Stephen's College and the Hindu College, which was Imtiaz Ali's alma mater.[14] Foreign sequences were shot at Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge and the Old Town in parts of Prague and at Dr. Beneš Square in Liberec.[15] The film was shot in reverse as the crew didn't want to break the continuity of Ranbir's hairstyle. The climax with long hair was shot first.[9] Kapoor had to transform himself into a rockstar: he practised guitar at A. R. Rahman's studio in Chennai for many days, read Kurt Cobain's biography and familiarised himself with Jats.[16]

Rockstar's costumes were designed by Aki Narula and Manish Malhotra, who dressed Ranbir in "small-town denim-and-sweater combination and later, Pathani-style kurtas with arm bands", thus completing the rockstar look.[17] Nargis Fakhri, who plays the role of a Kashmiri Pandit girl, wore a traditional Kashmiri Pandit wedding outfit in the wedding scene, which included Pandit Pheran, Dejhor (ear ornament) and Taranga (head cap worn underneath the veil).[18] This also happens to be the first time in Bollywood that a Kashmiri Pandit wedding was shown.[19]


Main article: Rockstar (soundtrack)

The music for the film is scored by A. R. Rahman, who replaces Imtiaz Ali's previous associate, Pritam. The soundtrack features 14 tracks,[20] with all lyrics penned by Irshad Kamil. The recording of the album took place in Chennai, London and Mumbai. Mohit Chauhan had lent his voice for nine songs. The audio rights were bought by T-Series.[21] Upon release on 30 September 2011, it received positive reviews from critics. "Sadda Haq" became the most popular song of the album and was named as a "youth anthem".[22]


Rockstar released on 11 November 2011 and saw a good advance opening at multiplexes closer to educational institutions.[23] The film released in 2,500 screens, and saw cinema halls running 14 to 15 shows in a day.[24]


Major parts of the song "Sadda Haq" were shot at the Norbulingka monastery in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala and people waving the free Tibet flag in the backdrop were shown in the song video. This triggered a dispute between Central Board of Film Certification and Imtiaz Ali when the Board asked Ali to blur the flag before the film hit the theatre, but the director refused to do it. Imtiaz Ali said, "I am not concerned at all. I have been out of India for long and don’t know whats going on, but I don’t see anything controversial in the intention portrayal in the movie. The purpose of the movie is not to make any social message, its more about personal freedom rather than a geographical issue."[25] However, he had to remove the sequence from the video to get the film's censor done. Later an official from the Board stated: "The Censor Board chief explained to them that all the cuts were made by the director voluntarily,and he had the option of appealing to a review board which he didn’t do. There were certain discussions between (Imtiaz) Ali and the Board regarding retaining a kiss between two actors (Ranbir and Nargis), but there have been no disagreement regarding deleting the flag from the frames." The controversy sparked protests among the Tibetan diaspora in Dharamsala and Chennai.[26] Later television broadcasts blotted out a "Free Tibet" banner featured in the song.

Critical response[edit]

Rockstar received positive reviews upon release.[7] Raja Sen of Rediff gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Rockstar is a simple, unspectacular tale, sometimes even predictable, but director Imtiaz Ali masterfully weaves in details that draw us in."[27] Aniruddha Guha of DNA too gave the film 4 out of 5 saying that the film was "like an effective crescendo that leaves you wanting more."[28] Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India also gave the film 4 out of 5 and stated that "The highpoint of Rockstar is it's high tension, high-on-passion romance between two unlikely people".[29] Sukanya Verma of Rediff rated it 3.5 stars out of 5 and said, "Rockstar is flawed but fabulous."[30] Mayank Shekhar of Hindustan Times also gave a rating of 3.5 out of 5 and noted "The canvas is wide like early Sanjay Leela Bhansali's; bird's view of the stunning bridge is very Mani Ratnam; witty, earthy dialogues are so Vishal Bhardwaj. Director Imitiaz Ali manages to retain a personal, auteur's touch in a genre vastly commercial, mainstream. This is a rare feat."[31] Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, and said "On the whole, Rockstar does not live up to the confidence and expectations from the otherwise very skilled and accomplished film-maker Imtiaz Ali."[32] Hrithik Sharma of El Viaje Reviews included it into his select list of Bollywood classics and says that "Rockstar is a unique cocktail of 50% drama, 40% romance and 10% comedy. What stands out is the music by A. R. Rahman. Each song in the film is a masterpiece and fits very well into the plot. Cinematography is realistic but prepossessing indeed. The film gets a 10 on 10 in this department. There are certain scenes in the film that may seem unrelated to the plot but those would be the scenes that would stay with you longer."[33] Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN also gave 3 stars out of 5, commenting "Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar is a far-from-perfect film, but it has honesty and depth, which is mostly missing in Hindi movies today."[34]

Sumit Bhattacharya of Rediff gave a rating of 2.5 out of 5, saying that "Rockstar is what is called a one-time watch", and highlighted that the film "is more Devdas than Jim Morrison".[35] Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV too gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, and said "Rockstar has a Sufi soul. If only it had been set free and allowed to go the whole hog!"[36] Komal Nahta of Koimoi again gave the film 2.5 out of 5, and said, "Rockstar will meet with a mixed response: one section of the audience (mainly youngsters in the cities) will love it while another section (mainly the single-screen audience and public of smaller cities) will find it ordinary."[37] Kaveree Bamzai of India Today gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and said "AR Rahman's music is the soul of the film. What is missing is the spine, leaving just a jelly in place."[38] Yahoo! gave the film 1 star out of 5, and said "Rockstar drives home an unscientific hypothesis that people who’ve endured sufferings/heart break etc will reach their creative best."[39] A reviewer from Reuters commented that Rahman and Ranbir are the stars of the film while saying "Rockstar works on so many levels, but it fails miserably on so many more.".[40]

Box office[edit]


Upon release, Rockstar had a very good opening. The film opened to a good response at multiplexes with bookings averaging around 60–70%, and single screens witnessed a lower capacity at around 30–40%.[41] It collected 100 million (US$1.5 million) nett on its opening day, thus becoming the second highest opener in a non-festival season after Ready.[8][42] The good opening was attributed to the multiplexes across cities, the "star power" of Ranbir Kapoor as well as the youthful theme of the film.[8] The film showed growth on Saturday by grossing 112.5 million (US$1.7 million) nett, therefore taking its two-day net total to 205 million (US$3.0 million).[43] A similar growth was seen on Sunday, and hence the first weekend collection ended at 337.5 million (US$5.0 million) nett, the majority of which was collected from Mumbai, Pune, Delhi & Bangalore.[44]

Rockstar opened well on Monday collecting around 57.5 million (US$850,000) nett, with 40% drop as compared to the first day collections, thus taking the four-day total to 390 million (US$5.8 million) nett.[45] The film collection saw another noticeable fall on Tuesday as it collected around 42.5 million (US$630,000) nett, with five days collection totalling to 432.5 million (US$6.4 million) nett.[46] At the end of first week, the film had a good collection by grossing 474.6 million (US$7.1 million) nett, though the film had found appreciation only with a small section of the audience.[47] In the process, it was ranked ninth in the list of all-time first week domestic collections.[48]

Rockstar grossed 25.0 million (US$370,000) nett on second Friday, with a 75% drop as compared to the first day.[49] On Saturday, the film collected 32.5 million (US$480,000) nett, and 42.5 million (US$630,000) nett on Sunday, taking the second weekend collection totalled at 100 million (US$1.5 million), representing a 70% drop from its first weekend. As of ten days, the film had collected approximately 574.6 million (US$8.5 million) nett.[50] Rockstar made 158.5 million (US$2.4 million) nett in the second week, declining by 67% and taking the two-week collection totalled at 633.1 million (US$9.4 million) nett.[51] The film on week three managed to earn 29.6 million (US$440,000), and hence taking three weeks collections to 662.7 million (US$9.8 million).[52] By the end of its fifth week, the film netted 674.9 million (US$10 million).


Rockstar managed to gross $1.65 million from all overseas markets and was termed as below the mark. The film collected £185,000 in the UK, $612,000 in North America, $370,000 in UAE and $100,000 in Australia.[53]


Ceremony Category Recipient Result
2nd BIG Star Entertainment Awards[54] Most Entertaining Film Actor – Male Ranbir Kapoor Won
Most Entertaining Romantic Actor – Male Ranbir Kapoor
Most Entertaining Romantic Film Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd
Most Entertaining Song Saadda Haq
Most Entertaining Playback Singer – Male Mohit Chauhan – Saadda Haq
Most Entertaining Film Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd Nominated
Most Entertaining Director Imtiaz Ali
Most Entertaining Music A. R. Rahman
18th Annual Colour Screen Awards[55] Best Actor Ranbir Kapoor Won
Best Music A. R. Rahman
Best Male Playback Mohit Chauhan – Saadda Haq
Best Lyricist Irshad Kamil – Nadaan Parindey Nominated
Best Lyricist Irshad Kamil – Saadda Haq
Best Cinematography Anil Mehta
Best Sound Design Dilip Subramanium
Best Production Design Arcopolis and Sumit Basu
Best Actor (Popular Choice) Ranbir Kapoor
Zee Cine Awards 2012[56] Best Actor – Male Ranbir Kapoor Won
Best Director Imtiaz Ali
Best Film Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd Nominated
Best Playback Singer – Male Mohit Chauhan – Jo Bhi Main Won
Best Music A. R. Rahman
Best Lyrics Irshad Kamil – Rockstar
Best Editing Aarti Bajaj
Best Screenplay Imtiaz Ali
Best Song Saadda Haq Nominated
7th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards[57][58] Best Actor Ranbir Kapoor Won
Best Playback Singer – Male Mohit Chauhan – Saadda Haq
Best Music A. R. Rahman
Best lyricist Irshad Kamil – Rockstar
Best Film Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd Nominated
Best Director Imtiaz Ali
Best Actress in Supporting Role Aditi Rao Hydari
Best Playback Singer Female Harshdeep Kaur – Katiya Karu
Best Screenplay Imtiaz Ali
Best Cinematography Anil Mehta
Best Sound Design Dilip Subramanium
Best Sound Mixing Alok De & Dileep Subramanium
57th Filmfare Awards[59] Best Film Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd
Best Director Imtiaz Ali
Best Female Playback Singer Harshdeep Kaur – Katiya Karu
Best Actor Ranbir Kapoor Won
Best Actor (critics) Ranbir Kapoor
Best Music A.R Rahman
Best Lyricist Irshad Kamil – Nadaan Parindey & Saadda Haq
Best Male Playback Singer Mohit Chauhan – Saadda Haq & Jo Bhi Main
13th IIFA Awards[60][61][62] Best Actor Ranbir Kapoor
Best Male Playback Singer Mohit Chauhan -Naadan Parindey
Best Music Director A.R. Rahman
Best Lyricst Irshad Kamil – Naadan Parindey
Best Background Score A.R. Rahman
Hottest pair of the year Ranbir Kapoor & Nargis Fakhri


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External links[edit]