"So how was the movie?" the moment I was out of the movie hall, my friend asked me. In normal circumstances I would've said- "Superb...", "Bad...", "Not that great...", or something like that but all I could say was- "I don't know, I am not sure...". 'SOUNDTRACK' a Neerav Ghosh film had that effect on me. It is not that the movie is difficult to understand, it is a straightforward plot but it is disturbing, repulsive at times and too intense, leaving a very gloomy feeling in your hearts. Anything in excess is harmful. The underlying message of the movie seems to be working on us too and the excessive intensity of the movie is putting-off at times.
SOUNDTRACK, the direct remake of the film 'It's all Gone Pete Tong', is the story of DJ Raunak Kaul (Rajeev Khandelwal), an extremely talented DJ who has something about him that can "spin anyone's heads right round" but his "other habits" come in his way to success only to destroy him completely. Films have explored the life and lifestyles of the journalists, of police, of doctors, of the rich and the poor but it is the first time that a film on the life of a DJ is depicted in Bollywood.
DJ Raunak Kaul rises to fame quickly, of course because he is talented. Fame comes with a price and Raunak has to pay a very heavy price. His life is completely consumed by his music, sex, alcohol and substance abuse; His life is a party. But this party soon comes to an end when suddenly Raunak starts losing his hearing capabilities thanks to his lifestyle. How he overcomes it and how Gauri (Soha Ali Khan) helps him through this tough phase of his life is what the second half of the movie is all about. A hero who falls off from his high seat only to ruin his life and then suddenly make a dramatic comeback is always very exciting to see. But the stark contrast in the "before" and "after", which should be shocking and heart wrenching, is not that effectively shown in the movie. Raunak comes out of his depression too easily; he is too much ignored by his relatives and friends after losing his hearing and is suddenly extra positive about his life.
Even before a person starts drinking, he will want to leave drinking just seeing the unwarranted, extreme amount of free-flowing alcohol in this movie. Compared to the first half, the second half where he is trying to reinvent himself is much more subtle.
Rajeev Khandelwal and Soha Ali Khan's performances are strong and impeccable. Rajeev has out-done himself in portraying such a realistic character. His substance abuse and alcohol consumption is so excessive that it becomes almost nauseating after a point. Rajeev Khandelwal is sincere and has made sure that we will hate him for destroying himself in the first half and love his spirits and cheer for him in the second half. His journey from Television to the big screen shows his growth as an actor. Soha Ali Khan is like a breath of fresh air (literally after so much skin-show, sex, alcohol, watching this simple, normal girl is refreshing) and her character which is not just deaf, but also has a lisp, seems extremely natural and is smoothly done. Mohan Kapoor as Charlie has given a stunning performance. Yatin Karyekar, Raunak's uncle is good.
The creepiest part of the movie is Rajeev's hallucination, his inner voice- Johnny the Joker. Johnny the Joker says- "Tujhe logon ko entertain karne ki aadat lag gayi hai (you are addicted to entertain people)", and probably the joker symbolizes this. Raunak has turned into this ghastly joker who is addicted to alcohol and addicted to the claps of his audiences. Director Neerav hasn't been able to portray this part that effectively as the joker simply serves as an extremely creepy element.
SOUNDTRACK, a biopic on the life of a musician surprisingly doesn't have any great soundtracks. The music is not at all path breaking, revolutionary, and super-hit but simply ordinary. And to show the process of the DJ going deaf, the music at times is so loud that your hands automatically move to cover your ears so that you don't go deaf as well. Performances can bring a lot of quality and lift even an ordinary movie; and this coupled with excellent direction is like a boon. Something like that happens with SOUNDTRACK.
On the whole, it is a human-interest story with great direction and performances. The only reason the movie will leave you wondering if you loved the movie or not is probably because it is difficult to accept that you loved watching this repulsive downfall of a hero. A movie which ideally would have had a lot of potential to be great remains just good; but it is definitely worth a watch.