ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani Review: Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt Are Having Fun!

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Updated
Movie Reviews
6 min read
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

Karan Johar returns to the director's chair with Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, a film that is a journey between "it's all about loving your parents" and "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb". 

A strapping, brawny Rocky Randhawa (Ranveer Singh), endearing in his theatrics, is the heir apparent to his family's confectionery, Dhanlakshmi Sweets; the eponym is his grandmother played by Jaya Bachchan. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Adversely, Rani Chatterjee (Alia Bhatt) is a feisty news anchor who doesn't answer to anyone; goes as far as to throw her earpiece out before an interview (nobody monitoring the many cameras trained on her notices). 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Alia Bhatt in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The film, at the crux of it, positions the cultural differences between the Punjabi and Bengali families. The latter sticks to traditional and stifling patriarchal values and the former is more progressive and challenges those very norms in the way their family operates. 

These ideological differences naturally affect the way Rocky and Rani behave. And yet somehow, these two poles-apart characters find each other and start a steamy situationship. 

0

Rocky's family consists of his grandmother who is ever-brooding and seemingly runs the family and the business with an iron fist, his bitter and indignant father Tijori (Aamir Bashir), his demure but ambitious mother-sister duo (portrayed with ample heart by Kshitee Jog and Anjali Anand), and his grandfather who suffers from memory loss, longing for a fragment of the past (Dharmendra). 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

A still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Dhanlakshmi started and Tijori maintained a cycle of generational trauma that has affected every person who was born into or has married into the family. But Rani is not going to be just another cog in this horribly oiled machine. 

Rani’s family is on the other side of this progressive to not binary. Her mother (Churni Ganguly) is an English professor who speaks with an accent even unnecessary to the plot. She is said to be the family’s Shashi Tharoor (she doesn’t say GPS, she says ‘Global Positioning System’). I can’t even place if it’s a caricature of Bengalis or every literature professor to exist.

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

A still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

One of the film’s most endearing characters is Rani’s father (Tota Roy Chowdhury) who has left the grandeur of the stage in Kolkata to teach and perform Kathak in Delhi. It’s the film’s most nuanced portrayal of masculinity and it makes sense that this is the character who shows up for the brash Rocky.

Then there is Jamini, Rani’s grandmother played with an ethereal ease by Shabana Azmi. Both Chowdhury and Ganguly imbibe their characters with the honesty they require. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Rocky is taught to expect everything to go the Randhawa way and Rani grew up knowing she never needs to take anything lying down. So when these two characters switch families (and circumstances), a web of teaching, learning, questioning, and introspection is imminent. 

The first half is frivolous and funny. The main focus is on two relationships, one being Rocky and Rani’s. Twitter was abuzz with theories about their chemistry but what do we see as chemistry? Is it the fact that the two look naturally great together? Is it that it’s easy to believe why they would find each other endearing? If yes, they have sizzling chemistry. 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

It is not the chemistry of finding each other irresistible (they do). It is also the fact that chemistry can sometimes just be calm; it can rest in the efforts of remembering that your partner doesn’t like a certain colour or food, or that they frown a certain way when something is bothering them. Johar weaves this easy chemistry into the folds of his typical Bollywood story. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Karan Johar fits in every bit of Bollywood he can get his hands on into Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. Extravagant sets? Check. Lovers forced to separate because of family differences? Check. Past lovers reuniting with a (large) tinge of infidelity? Check. Song and dance? Elaborate monologues? Loud background music? One-liners? Check, check, check, check. 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Jaya Bachchan in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Karan Johar’s unrealistic extravagance must have the support of style, a responsibility fulfilled by fashion designer Manish Malhotra and stylist Eka Lakhani. The Sabyasachi Angarakhas flow and swish in the air with aplomb and chiffon floats against a snowy landscape (despite Rani’s mismatched blouses). It is a reminder of why Bollywood cinema felt so easy to escape into. 

The Bollywood mass appeal is right there but at some point, you wonder if there should've been some balance. Maybe a little less. But the Johar directorial magic hits every frame of the screen.

He knows how to frame Jaya Bachchan’s scowl as threatening and comic just with a smart use of camera work (this credit, of course, is shared by the actor and the cameraperson). 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

He brings his almost cheesy Bollywood-ness and mixes it with old Bollywood nostalgia dialed up to the maximum. Yes, it seems exaggerated. Yes, it makes little sense and is so overly melodramatic. I wish I was someone who had the strength to resist a character crooning ‘Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar’ or ‘Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai’ but I don’t. 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Tota Roy Chowdhury in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

As Rocky, Ranveer is impossible to peel your eyes away from; he has an infectious energy that lends itself to the film’s demand of uproarious laughter from the audience. The way he throws around phrases like, ‘But obvio?’ and ‘Hello babes’ feels like second nature to him. And yet, when the film moves into its melodramatic and emotion-heavy second half, his performance is heartbreaking. 

This is a man who knows there’s always been something wrong with the lessons he has been taught growing up but nobody ever taught him what. He is torn between what he sees as himself and what his family wants him to be. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Alia pulls no punches in playing Rani, when she’s spouting her lessons on Feminism 101 or trying to find a way to get a word in while talking to her golden-retriever boyfriend. 

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Alia Bhatt and Shabana Azmi in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The film does make attempts at being more than it can be. There is a commentary on patriarchy, on misogyny, on cancel culture even. But all of them, except maybe the former, lack any nuance. It’s all monologues followed by angry looks and while it does get the point home, the point in itself is shallow.

Even the commentary on cancel culture comes so close to actually getting it but it doesn’t. 

‘Must we cancel all people instead of giving them a chance to learn’ is a very nuanced subject that delves into matters of privilege, of understanding, and of opportunity amongst all things. A confused monologue really cannot and does not cover it. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This brings us to the actual screenplay. An actual story is sacrificed at the altar of drama. The characters outside of Rocky and Rani do not get their due. They yell their backstories and problems at the faces of their family but the actual emotional heft of these sermons is absent. Dhanlakshmi gets the shortest end of the stick. 

Even with the mandate that this is not a film rooted in realism and shouldn't be seen that way, there are parts of the film that still seem too unnatural. At points, I found myself checking if I was laughing with the film or at it.  

'Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' hit theatres on 28 July.

Ranveer Singh in a still from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani doesn’t have anything new to speak of; it doesn’t really have a proper, clear message. It is the spectacle the film mounts that makes it and the fact that the cast seems to have given their everything to make the screenplay work.

And maybe that is one of the true feats of acting? To elevate a film beyond even its own means. And of everyone, Ranveer Singh does it best here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from entertainment and movie-reviews

Topics:  Alia Bhatt   Ranveer Singh   Karan Johar 

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×