The promos and the songs of the Malayalam film, Rock n' Roll promised freshness, not just the colour corrected frames and the technical pizzazz, but also the characters. Director Ranjith promised a musical with Mohanlal. So, the excitement was doubled on seeing our hero in a funky style pony tail and a goatee.
The question that really bothers one as one watches the film is this -- is Rock n' Roll really a musical?
Well, the answer is that it is just another film with the Ranjith template -- a free spirited globetrotting hero who hates any kind of attachment with worldly things. The only difference in this film is that he is a jazz drummer of repute whose friends' list has the names of who's who of the music world.
Chandramouli (Mohanlal) started his musical journey in Madras with a group of four friends. While all the four settled themselves in various capacities in the film music industry, Chandra branches out.
The narrative begins when Guna (Siddique), a music director seeks out his old friend to give beats to a peppy song in a Lal Jose (in a guest appearance) film. This starts the process of reunion.
One of the group is Isaac (Lal), who has stopped composing music as he cannot compromise on his principles. He makes a living by playing violin for other composers. He has a drinking problem and for this reason, he is separated from his wife and child. He cuts a sorry figure among his friends.
Henry (Rehman) is a keyboard player. He is married but a flirt by nature. So, his wife always follows him and his friends always help him out of sticky situations.
Vichan (Mukesh) is a background musician. He has two wives and two homes.
Balu (Harisree Asokan) is a Tabla player, who complains that his instrument has become redundant after the advent of the synthesizer.
The director seems to be at a loss to create a story around these characters. So, he weaves a lame love story around Chandramouli. But we are told in the beginning that this fellow does not believe in love. He argues that there is only the physical need in man and woman, and that is misinterpreted as love (doesn't this remind us of Prof Nathan of Ore Kadal?).
So, it becomes a big deal when he feels infatuated by the new singer Daya Sreenivasan (Lekshmi Rai) whose song he has given beats to. He employs techniques of a college student to win her over, which looks utterly stupid (a lesser word won't do) considering that he can philosophise on happy matrimony to his friend Isaac and his wife. And, above all he has had experiences with women all around the world.
Performance-wise Mohanlal tries very hard to rise above the script, which is in tatters, but beyond a point, he fails amuse us. Whether it is the philosophical hyperbole or downright buffoonery; there is sincerity in his effort.
No one else except Siddique can stand up to Mohanlal in acting. Even Lekshmi Rai has nothing to do except keeping the expression 'see I am a cutie pie'.
In the end, we are left scratching our heads wondering the motivation for Ranjith to make Rock n' Roll. Except for couple of catchy tunes by Vidhyasagar, there is nothing musical about it.