Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani: A Bollywood Masala Film After A Long Time

With Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem kahaani, KJo seems to have made a come back after a hiatus of 7 years - worth a watch.

If like me, you have not visited the theatres for a long-time citing lack of good content then Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Raani Ki Prem Kahaani should do the trick. The moviemaker has certainly recharged his batteries and is back with a bang. After a long hiatus of 7 years, he proves that KJo’s brand of inimitable cinema is quite like the multi-talented director, show host, anchor himself, over the top, opulent, larger than life and unmissable.

*few spoilers alert*

A lighthearted masala entertainer

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani is a full-fledged masala entertainer. The movie has a bit of everything, grandeur, romance, humour, drama, conflict, and resolution. The plot is very typical, two diametrically opposite people with extremely different family backgrounds and ideologies fall hopelessly in love with each other. The next 2 hours are spent in their attempts to overcome their differences and make their families accept their undying love.

Rani Chatterjee (Alia Bhatt) is a typical outspoken south Delhi Bengali girl who is a popular news anchor emancipated and opinionated in every way. An LSR and Columbia grad, Rani’s earlier boyfriends were highly educated doctors and engineers so clearly, she is sceptical about the shelf life of her lethal attraction to a college drop out dressed in Gucci and Lous Vuitton.

Ranveer seems to be playing himself, clad is designer wear, a boisterous Karol Bagh Punjabi boy with rippling muscles. As he races around in his red Ferrari, protein shake and trainer cum friend in tow, he is quite reminiscent of his earlier characters from Band Baja Barat and many others.

It was amusing to see ​Alia Bhat who was trolled for lack of general knowledge for many years essaying the role of well-informed opinionated news anchor quizzing her boyfriend about India’s President. The interplay on similar sounding English words is rather funny and sets the tone for a light heartedcomedy.

Interestingly, it was their secret attempt to reunite their respective grandparents Kanwal (Dharmendra) and Jamini (Shabana Azmi), who had a week long extra marital affair in 1978 that makes them lovers .

This ties back to Karan Johar’s obsession with fake marriages and clandestine extra marital affairs. The story progresses as before tying the knot, the couple decides to switch families and households for three months to explore their commitment and compatibility.

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Modern v/s conservative

The Chatterjees are modern and inclusive while the Randhawas are old fashioned and regressive. Rocky’s scenes with the classy erudite Chatterjees are endearing and so are Rani’s attempts to urge women in the Randhawa household to emerge from the shadows and follow their dreams. The death of a character is delicately handled and captures how in these existential moments, family bickering and petty fights melts away. The stunning gender neutral dance performance against the backdrop of Durga Puja is an effective statement that talent has no boundaries and genders .

As the stern and orthodox matriarch of the family, Jaya Bachchan shines and seems to be a la Amitabh Bachchan in K3G and Mohabbattein without the baritone voice. Shabana Azmi plays her part to perfection and is a delight to watch. So is the wheel chair bound Dharmendra who is nursing his broken heart and jumps in joy, literally and metaphorically when he meets Shabana Azami after so many decades. The brief lip lock between two veteran actors drew whistles from the audience and is a huge statement on how our sensibilities have evolved, though I don’t know, how many of us are comfortable seeing out grandparents sharing a lip kiss in front of us.

Churni Ganguly and Tota Roy Chowdhary as Rani’s parents are perfectly cast and deserve a mention too. Rocky’s mother and sister also make their presence felt and so does the father who struggles to meet his demanding mother’s expectations while making feeble attempts to reach out to his ailing father.

A mixed bag

Songs like Jhumka, Tum Kya Mile and Ve Kamleya are beautiful to watch, so are the musical interludes as tributes to legends like Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar.

What stands out are stellar performances by the entire cast, the joy of seeing the likes of Jaya, Shabana and Dharmendra again, stunning Manish Malhotra chiffon sarees and exquisite locations and larger than life sets in typical K JO style. Alia looked beautiful and has evolved as an actress and a woman. Ranveer shone in the comedy scenes and KJo’s master stroke was blending  serious topic like patriarchy, misogyny, gender bias, body shaming, inter-caste marriages with humour, song and dance.

The lows are the length of the film. At 168 minutes, the film is needlessly extended and overtly melodramatic. It could have been more engaging if it had two less songs and a few scenes had been chopped off. Also, some illogical parts like where the women in the palatial Randhwa household are serving chapattis – where did the staff suddenly vanish around mealtime?

Another strange aspect was the complete lack of chemistry. Awkward lip locks and hugs are not a patch on sizzling chemistry of Shahrukh and Kajol. The two lead characters seemed like buddies and friends at best, definitely not lovers,

This family drama cum romantic comedy has been gaining momentum over the weekend. Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh believes the film needs to “stay strong on remaining weekdays” to have a profitable run-in theatre. Overall, a one-time watch that makes the popcorn worth it.

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About the Author

Ruchiraa Sharma

Ruchiraa Sharma is a seasoned media professional and communications specialist with more than fifteen years of experience across the entire gamut of media & content creation. A broadcast journalist and television producer, she specializes in read more...

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