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Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani review: Just hand Ranveer an Oscar, someone!

Updated on: 28 July,2023 10:31 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Mayank Shekhar |

The much anticipated Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani review is out and for all to read!

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani review: Just hand Ranveer an Oscar, someone!


Rocky Aur Rani ki Prem Kahaani
Director: Karan Johar
Actors: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt
Rating: 3.5/5

This is the kind of film that takes some getting used to, before it kicks in. Speaking for myself, as an audience—who else will I speak for, here, anyway! It’s probably around the 20th minute on the movie’s timeline, that the switch happens. Primarily, because our picture palette has become so unaccustomed to straight-bat, super-urbane Bollywood opera, on the big screen, perhaps.

Starting with a full-on, giant, disco-ball item song, scores of goris preening in the background. An appropriate romantic song, shot before chiffon sarees, slipped in, for dream-like sequence, up in the mountains. That is, when the characters aren’t all playing to the gallery, with their oversized—Delhi, Punjabi, Bengali, intel (‘aatel’), jock-boy—clichés/cultural stereotypes, and coincidences.

Have OTT (platforms) spoilt some of the visceral fun we associate with all things, Hindi, filmy, fam-dram (family drama), served so deliciously OTT (over-the-top)? Maybe. Does Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani sufficiently restore that setting? Hell, yeah.

Once you settle in, what follows is a film that, for a fair part, is about a casual fling, turning serious. Which usually happens when either person in a hook-up starts to develop feelings. God knows, it’s common in urban relationships—that suddenly go southwards, as the persistent partner sees no reciprocation for love, that’s emerged from lust, foremost.

It’s also a film about how opposite vibes attract. Meaning, all those couples you’ve noticed, all your life, and instantly wondered—how are these two even together? I know people gossip the same way about well-known Bollywood stars as well. As with the leads, Rocky, Rani, that this romcom is named after.

The petite, pocket-full of dynamite, Alia Bhatt, being the ravishing ‘Bengali beauty’, Rani—personally sorted, professionally successful, repeatedly breaking into spontaneous, infectious laughs… She could have anybody for dinner.

Rocky, though, is the ‘Puppy’ (prosperous Punjabi) Bhaisaab, with biceps. The sort of bloke you’d think of as ‘Pappu’—never mind, where he derives all that confidence from. I want that! But he’s the dil-daar from Dilli.

Having grown up with a few Rockys in that city myself—you can tell what kinda guy, with a gold-plated visiting card, he is. All-heart, in all honesty. Such a beautifully etched character. Ranveer Singh owns this role like nothing short of an inimitable rock-star. At some point, I felt so taken in by his swag, actually wanted to talk like him—“genes ka jalwa”, “mammary issues,” “just the small, actually, convo karni thi”… Full salaam to dialogue writer (Ishita Moitra) for inventing this language, “bebs”!

Ranveer started off as a Dilliwallah, with Maneesh Sharma’s Band Baajaa Baaraat (2010). I assumed him to be actually the annoying ‘sadak-chhaap’ he was playing. He was that good. But it didn’t work for me, as an audience, for a romcom, which is altogether hinged on how you want the guy, to get the girl, eventually. I just didn’t want this hero to land his heroine!

What a redeemer Ranveer has been since, throughout his career, and in particular, with this role. You’re absolutely in love with Rocky, and therefore Rani—even before any conflict gets in the way of their love for each other. Where does Rocky come from, though. A family that sells mithai/sweets, with its stock prices regularly making it to business magazine covers. That’s too fancy to be a Bengali/Nathu’s Sweets type from Delhi.

Maybe, a snack empire like Haldiram? Schooling, evidently, wasn’t his strong suit, and so he’s gol (zero) on everything you can find on Google.

The girl is from a family of an Eng-lit prof. They swap homes to gauge if their marriage could ever work under such opposite circumstances. The only thing they have in common is their grandparents once liked each other—that’s Shabana Azmi (lovely, always), and superstar Dharmendra, who’s finally being given his due respect in a film, that he’d frittered away a lot of, with random roles in the ’90s.

But this is, like so much of '90s Bollywood itself, a movie with pre- and post-interval parts, that shifts tone so much—from pure comedy, to a grand, chandeliered, conversational piece—you almost fear for the infamous ‘curse of the second half’! The latter involves excessive mainstream messaging. Hugely well-meaning, no doubt, rightly subversive, as well—the movie still risks coming across as a prolonged, preachy, feminist manifesto, with a point or two made on supposed woke-ism. It’s when they go for the fun (first half), that the film is all the way a frickin’ ride!

Either way, there’s something so unapologetic, unabashedly unsubtle about it all that it keeps you engaged in the hall, throughout—while the laughs land, and loud dialogues get the applause.

If the supremely self-aware filmmaker Karan Johar was to remake Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), in 2023, it would be this. Or, it is this, in fact. Only, they haven’t cracked a dard-bhara, emo tune—of the same level as Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), or Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006)—for the running background score.

They’ve done well to exploit the full Saregama/HMV library for the musical. Amped up the young romance, placed the track ‘Lover’ by Diljit Dosanjh on woofers at mid-point, turned on the sexual heat, with much garam masala.

More than simply a pic, I think Rocky Rani is a top of the pop-culture moment—to be loved/shared as memes, reels, clips, cooler talk, and kitty party chatter. Box-office wallahs might rightly say, “Killed it Karan!” It’s Bollywood, as the gorgeous genre, the director knows, better than any.

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