For Karan Johar, the director who gave us gems such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... it has always been about loving the family. It’s a tried and tested formula—lavish sets, high-end designer costumes, catchy songs, and the biggest names in showbiz served with a side of drama, conflict, and heartwarming moments—that has intrigued and delighted audiences for decades. We’ve seen it before and will continue to smile, laugh, cry and go through a gamut of emotions from our seats, and Johar knows it.
Back in the director’s chair after seven long years, Johar's latest, Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, is inarguably one of the most-anticipated films of the year. Watching this family drama will make you miss this kind of cinema and make you wish for more. Though it’s not a perfect film, just like the families shown in it, it is worth a watch for the love of KJo's cinema.
STEREOTYPES AND PREACHINGS GALORE
The movie sticks to the stereotypical portrayal of Punjabis—loud, cheerful, and anything but civil—and shows the Bengali family as proper, educated, quiet-ish. Ranveer Singh's character is all things extra and showy with a fancy house, branded clothes, and a posh car, while Alia Bhatt is an empowered and independent news anchor. Watching this crazy vs. classy clash over a film longer than two and a half hours is sensory overload. However, with the right amount of emotions and humour, the actors deliver exactly what is expected out of them; nothing more and nothing less.
However, Karan Johar deviates from the family drama route and makes large parts of the movie seem preachy. It touches upon everything from patriarchy and misogyny, to racism. One might like the part where they show how talent is gender-neutral, but after a point, it is overplayed quite a bit. At some point in the film, they try to address racism and the prevalent myths in Indian society, but we hoped it would have been done rather tastefully.
MUSIC DOESN’T STRIKE THE RIGHT CHORD
If you’ve grown up watching Karan Johar movies, you’d know how music is the central piece of his films. While the album has a mix of upbeat and soulful numbers, none of them are memorable. The only songs that hit the right notes are the classics—songs by Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Asha Bhosle—that bring back the old-world charm of Bollywood. A special mention to the song Dola Re Dola, Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar and Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai that are the backdrop of three terrific scenes in the film. The cherry on the cake is Baba Sehgal's famous track, Aaja Meri Gaadi Mein Baith Jaa, that’s played more than once.
GIVE IT UP FOR THE SUPPORTING CAST
One of the many things that Karan Johar gets right in his films is that he doesn’t just make the lead stand out, but lets every character enjoy a moment under the sun. Jaya Bachchan as the matriarch of Rocky’s family plays the part to perfection. Dharmendra, as his grandfather, is an absolute delight to watch and has a beautiful scene that tickle the audience's funny bones. Shabana Azmi (Alia’s grandmother) brings immense poise, grace, and charm to her character. Her romantic track with Dharmendra is cute and endearing. Churni Ganguly and Tota Roy Chowdhary as Rani's parents fit their roles like a glove. On the other hand, Aamir Bashir and Kshitee Jog as Rocky's parents pack in the Punjabi punch.
THE LEAD GIVE THEIR HEART AND SOUL
This film certainly wouldn’t be as entertaining had it not been for Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt. Singh's character Rocky is Ranveer Singh in real life. He is the tailor-made actor for a director like Karan Johar and shows what a powerhouse of talent and good looks he is. On the other hand, Bhatt aces the role of the calm and balanced person who holds it together amid the craziness around her and looks stunning throughout the movie.