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|November 5, 1999
Real blues this time
Rockford, Nagesh Kukunoor's second film after Hyderabad Blues, has nothing much to talk about.
Rockford is the name of a boarding school where Rajesh Naidu (Rohan Dey) goes to study. He is a young and impressionable boy. The film shows his transformation from a naive, innocent, scared boy to a confident and genuine person.
Unlike Kukunoor's first film, which lacked technical finesse, Rockford has been shot well. But a well-shot film doesn't always make it entertaining, does it?
Kukunoor certainly has a sense of humour. Rockford has the same kind of underlying humour that Hyderabad Blues had. But the difference is that while his first film was a simple one, Rockford is rather commercial. And the humane touch is missing. The editing is abrupt, with some scenes chopped off, making one wonder what happened.
One can forgive Kukunoor for making a technically bad film like Hyderabad Blues. Because that film struck a chord with the generation which believes everything that comes with a foreign tag is better. Also, it was made on a budget of Rs 2.5 million -- which is peanuts compared to the amounts spent on making films these days. It was an honest attempt at making a mark with different kind of cinema.
Kukunoor was given Rs 10 million to work with on Rockford. He probably wasn't sure what kind of treatment he should give the film. He has tried to give it the trappings of a masala film, with some romantic moments and even a Hindi song.
But on the whole, the effort is awkward and shaky. The acting too is unimpressive; surprisingly even an actress of Nandita Das's calibre looks uncomfortable, though it must be said that she does not have much of a role anyway.
Rohan Dey was chosen out of 500 children for the lead role. He does have the innocence and vulnerability of a 13-year-old, and does a good job in parts. The saving factors in the film are two of his friends -- Selva (Kailash Atmanathan) and David (Imran). Both are good actors and keep the humour in the film going. They are the only ones who look comfortable in the film.
There are some similarities between Hyderabad Blues and Rockford. Kukunoor has the ability to capture the ethnicity of India, which itself saves the film from sinking completely. There is comic relief at points, while dealing with the day-to-day life of a boarding school.
Kukunoor's direction leaves a lot to be desired for. Despite this being his second film, he still has to make a mark as a good director. At the outset, he needs to choose actors who can at least look comfortable on screen. He himself looks uncomfortable in his role of a gym instructor.
Former actress Padmini Kolhapure-Sharma produces the film under the banner of Padmini Films. This is her first attempt at starting production with a 'different' film.
The success of Hyderabad Blues must have raised a lot of expectations, but Rockford does not live up to those.
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