Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani Review | The Balancing Act of Woke Sensibilities and Karan Johar Glitz

Looking at the glitz and set-like grandeur of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, you might actually feel that Karan Johar might just recreate a shallow Student of the Year kind of film. But this redecorated classic Bollywood formula is surprisingly entertaining thanks to the charming chemistry of the lead pair along with Johar’s self-critiquing tweaks. With the writers trying to balance things between traditions and progressiveness Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is not a steady sail. Still, ultimately it is the popcorn fun you won’t really regret.

Rocky Randhawa and Rani Chatterjee are our central characters. Rocky belongs to this super-rich business family, and he met Rani, a progressive Bengali journalist, while searching for his grandfather’s long-lost girlfriend. How this fling between the two gradually changed into a serious relationship and how they managed to find a solution for the drastic difference between their families is what we see in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.

The graph of the drama and fun is highly fluctuating in the case of this movie. While the initial meet-ups of Rocky and Rani are so casual and modern with quick-witted repartee, Karan Johar follows it up with his love for old Hindi songs and their melodrama. This pattern in treatment is very prevalent in the whole film. It’s almost like the writers told Karan that we should be more woke and subtle, and Karan asked them to forget about being subtle. Thankfully, almost all those cringe-worthy melodramatic bit in the film has a bit of tweak that somewhere acknowledges the old-school tone of those scenes.

As the Punjabi Munda with the protein shake and bad English, Ranveer Singh, in his typical style, plays it to the gallery perfectly. He gets the pitch of the melodrama Karan Johar wants the performance to have, and the flexibility is excellent. Alia Bhatt, as Rani, by design, looks like Poo with a better IQ. But hers is my favorite performance from the whole movie. Rani is actually the face of the woke sensibility Karan Johar wants to include in this movie. And Alia manages to be real even when the scenes are pretty much in the Yash Chopra zone of drama. There were a lot of debates about the lack of chemistry between the two when the Tum Kya Mile video was released. Well, you won’t have that opinion after watching the movie.

Jaya Bachchan as Dhanalakshmi Randhawa is another quintessential Karan Johar character. The veteran pulled it off neatly, and it was actually nice to see how the writers treated that character in the very end, which looked a lot more practical. Shabana Azmi as Jamini was fine. As the parents of Rani, Tota Roy Chowdhury and Churni Ganguly delivered excellent performances, and the script offered them enough space to portray various shades of their characters. I admired Aamir Bashir’s versatility as I remembered his performance in School of Lies, which was released a few weeks back on DisneyPlus Hotstar.

Karan Johar is someone who has grown up seeing the Chiffon Saree romance era of Bollywood, and everything in this movie is a spectacle with colors and lights. But he is trying to fix a lot of ideas of perfectness and well-mannered behavior he himself had endorsed a few years back. Ranveer Singh dancing to Devdas song, Rani’s mother confronting Rocky about his shame to look and touch lingerie, questioning the age-old “respect the elders” advice, the suppression faced by women in choosing a career they want to follow, etc., are all getting its space in the screenplay. While people like Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti do it with lesser dialogues and greater subtlety, Karan prefers the old-school dialog baazi style. And considering the audience he wants to cater to, the loud approach feels like a sensible creative choice. Pritam’s music is pretty catchy, and the placement of the songs was also pretty apt.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is a fruit salad of Bollywood ingredients. You have big dance numbers high on production values, the melodrama part is very old school, and the treatment is highly dialogue heavy. But the efforts to be rebellious within the framework of a Karan Johar film gives the movie a sense of freshness. I would say Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is what if Dil Dhadakne Do got treated like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum.

Final Thoughts

I would say Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is what if Dil Dhadakne Do got treated like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.