Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani Review: Karan Johar beautifully blends emotions and humor in this film.
An affluent family, stunning settings, family values, emotions, love, heartbreak, captivating costumes, and beautifully choreographed dance numbers… Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani (RARKPK) might not be your typical ideal film, but it’s a special masala movie. After seven years since Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, witnessing Karan Johar’s return to direction is filled with excitement and hope. However, all of this takes a backseat when the film takes an extensive amount of time to draw you in and ultimately becomes an endless saga of romance and didactic lessons. Absolutely! RARKPK beautifully revives the grandeur of Karan Johar’s cinema, which we’ve been longing for.
However, just like any masterpiece, it’s not without its imperfections. Among many other things, what bothered me the most while watching RARKPK was the portrayal of Punjabis as loud and uncouth people and Bengalis as highly educated and intellectual beings. Let’s see how enjoyable it is to see Bollywood stuck in these worn-out stereotypes. In Punjabi households, no woman covers her head with a dupatta. And what’s the problem with the improper characterization of the male lead, when audiences have been calling for Bollywood films to stop sexualizing female characters for a long time?
Story of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani
The film’s beginning features Rocky Randhawa (Ranveer Singh) making a dazzling entry in a low neckline printed shirt and oiled chest, dancing in an over-the-top song set against the backdrop of a Punjabi Of The Year competition. On the other hand, Rani Chatterjee (Alia Bhatt) gets a well-written introductory scene where she is coaching a politician on handling cases of rising sexual assaults. Right from the start, we are told about the contrasting families of Rocky Aur Ran.
The story, which is somewhat revealed in the trailer, revolves around Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani, who are trying to reunite their grandparents, Kamal (Dharmendra) and Jamini (Shabana Azmi), who had an affair in 1978 which ended later. Their marital situation. While the romance of the old world is being revived, it’s not easy for Rocky aur Rani to come together from different backgrounds. To understand each other’s families, they decide to switch homes for three months and live with each other’s families, but then they realize things are not as easy as they seem. What follows is a series of ups and downs, difficulties, misunderstandings, conflicts, self-realization, and regrets.
The 168-minute film is unnecessarily stretched, and it took me nearly an hour to get a grip on it. Especially, the first part is so dragged that I had to struggle to sit through some initial scenes. Lord knows what was happening on the screen. How did Rocky aur Rani fall in love? I still don’t know. It was so quick that I went back on the rewind mode to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Alas! It’s quite abrupt. How was Dhanlakshmi Randhawa (Jaya Bachchan), Rocky’s grandmother, offended when she meets her husband’s former lover? We never get to know that either.
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As expected, the story picks up pace in the second half, and it has several emotionally charged scenes that are notable and keep you engaged. Those scenes where Rocky is bonding with Rani’s family are poignant and filled with intelligence and humor, while the ones with Rani and Rocky’s family are less enjoyable. I liked the balance Kejoe tried to show while switching between the two households. With his on-point and perfectly guided direction, Kejoe once again proves that he knows the strength of his actors and how to extract the maximum benefit through the characters they play. The way he blends emotions and humor is the backbone of the film.
Engaging Dialogues in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani: A Collaborative Effort of Talented Writers
Written by Ishita Moitra, Shashank Khaitan, and Sumit Roy, RARKPK has some dialogues that are extremely witty and double-meaning, and they seem forced. It feels like we have many Bollywood writers trying to make people laugh with wrong words – Inter-caste (intercourse) and Organized (organism) as pleasures – we need something smarter than that!
RARKPK is a film that keeps the viewers engrossed throughout, and one thing that stands out in most parts of the movie is its ever-relevant teachings. From criticizing patriarchal notions to calling for an end to misogyny, the film doesn’t hold back in sending powerful messages. It resonated with me primarily because it emphasizes the ideology of ‘beyond gender boundaries,’ which I really liked. However, the trouble arises when this concept is taken beyond its core essence and presented with a mocking touch, as if it’s a subject of ridicule, like classical dance Kathak. I doubt many would appreciate the scene where Rocky Rani’s father exclaims, ‘They have become too progressive.’
Another scene involves Rani’s mother taking Rocky for ‘bra-shopping’ and then giving a lecture about how touching a bra should be easy while intending to respect women. This sequence feels out of context and doesn’t blend smoothly. Moreover, in a family-oriented entertainment, it’s perplexing why so many social messages are thrown in and rushed.
To save the day, there are some remarkable and solid performances. Ranveer’s portrayal as the vivacious and spirited ‘Karol Bagh ka Launda’ is quite natural, especially since he plays himself in many ways. Not that I’m complaining, but I didn’t see much acting or preparation there. It felt similar to those over-enthusiastic moments we’ve seen during events on the red carpet or during film promotions. Despite having all the wealth, why isn’t he educated? Knowing English doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but there was no reason to present him as a school or college dropout.
On the other hand, Alia, as a feminist lecturer, shines like a textbook on dialogue delivery, and while I stand for gender equality and women’s rights, I fail to comprehend why you’d insert so many social messages in a supposed family drama. RARKPK should have remained a love story and a family drama rather than trying to tackle all these areas and pulling out the essence.
Powerful Performances by Ranveer and Alia: Unveiling the Realities of Educated Families
The performances in emotional scenes are where Ranveer and Alia excel, convincing us that such arguments still exist even in the most educated families. Among the conservative and rigid matriarchs, Jaya Bachchan stands out as the best. Even with her uniqueness and strict demeanor, she manages to bring out genuine laughter at times. Dharmendra’s presence is good, but it’s disheartening that the film includes his two challenging dialogues and a song that becomes overwhelming in the theater. Shabana Azmi complements her with her skill, creating a perfect duo that leaves an impact, and it doesn’t disappoint. As Rani’s parents, Amrish Puri and Kshiti Jog are convincing, adding Punjabi flavor with their accents and expressions. Anjali Anand breathes fresh air into all these conservative characters with her compelling acting.
What sets RARKPK apart is its music. From foot-tapping party tracks like ‘Jhumka’ and ‘Dhindhora Baje Re’ to soul-stirring melodies like ‘Tum Kya Mile’ and ‘Ve Kamleya Dil,’ the film pays tribute to the classics of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, and Lata Mangeshkar, invoking nostalgia for the golden era of Bollywood music. Oh, and Baba Sehgal’s famous track ‘Aaja Meri Gaadi Mein Baith Jaa’ has been played more than once. To truly experience why this story matters, watch the film. And KJ, don’t forget your nepo star kids
Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani Review
According to The Hindustan Times, “As an educated and ambitious TV journalist, Alia looks stunning in every frame, and the scene with a backless blouse and Manish Malhotra’s chiffon sarees is a visual treat for sore eyes. ‘Karol Bagh ka Launda’ delivers a natural performance.”
India Today says, “In Kejoe’s comeback, Ranveer and Alia are shining like diamonds,” while The Times Now states, “Karan Johar provides a splendid cinematic experience, utilizing space, pauses, and silence to tell the story.”
“Jaya Bachchan is electrifying the screen. Her powerful presence, authoritative demeanor, and piercing gaze make it an extraordinary performance that will surely be talked about by moviegoers,” writes film critic Taran Adarsh on Bollywood Hungama.
Shabana Azmi is excellent; she portrays her role with controlled intensity in every scene without going overboard, states film critic on Bollywood Hungama.