Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani Review: Ranveer Singh Rocks In Funny, Moving, Delightfully Subversive Modern Romance. Karan Johar Is Back!This Rani wants a Rocky too!
Wake up, babez, a full-on family entertainer just dropped! Yes, I will be talking like Rocky Randhawa this side for some time, that’s how much Ranveer Singh as Rocky has me in a chokehold. Though RS is hands down the best thing about Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, followed by Alia Bhatt, Shabana Azmi, and Jaya Bachchan, the arc that has been the most satisfying is director Karan Johar’s evolution. With a story and screenplay by Shashank Khaitan, Sumit Roy, and Ishita Moitra (who also writes the seeti-maar dialogues), RRKPK is a modern Bollywood romance that both indulges and subverts the KJo movie tropes we knew and loved. Karan Johar is back and how!
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The prem kahaani vaise toh is kaafi straightforward. Rocky aur Rani’s hot-and-hilarious meet-cute happens in an attempt to reunite his grandfather and her grandmother, who have history. As an adorable old romance rekindles, a passionate young romance sparks between our leads, drawn together like opposite ends of a magnet. Casual lust stories turn into true love story that baffles their families. Because the Randhawas and the Chatterjees are different not just in cultures but ideologies, at first it looks like never the twain shall meet.
The Chatterjee household, with Jamini (Shabana Azmi), her son (Tota Roy Chowdhury), daughter-in-law (Churni Ganguly), and granddaughter (Alia), is a typical, educated, classy, progressive Bengali family with gender parity and a love for the arts. The Randhawas are the opposite; an orthodox Punjabi family. Patriarchy-victim-turned-victimiser, Dhanlaxmi Randhawa (Jaya Bachchan) rules with an iron fist over her family’s sweets business, and also over her family, which includes son, Aamir Bashir’s Tijori (emotions locked up as his name), subjugated daughter-in-law Punam (Kshitee Jog), fat-shamed granddaughter Gayatri (Anjali Anand), and grandson Rocky (Ranveer). Her husband, Kanwal (Dharmendra), is wheelchair-bound with a Ghajini problem (memories come and go), and gets barely any affection from Dhanlaxmi or Tijori.
Shits yaar, it looks like yeh shaadi nahi ho sakti. And that’s when Rocky and Rani decide to move in with each other’s families to convince them. Now it might seem obvious how this ends. And don’t worry, that grandiose wedding sequence that could be a fantastic Manyavar Mohey ad is totally legit. But the journey to get there is one emotional roller-coaster that makes you laugh, cry, and point your fingers at the screen as you spot a K3G reference that’s flipped on its head.
Also Read: Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani Early Reviews Are In! Gauri Khan Gives 5 Stars, Karisma, Malaika Are All Praises
The film marks 25 years of Karan Johar as a filmmaker. And it’s fun spotting callbacks to Johar’s filmography like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Student Of The Year, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, and Lust Stories. It also winks at some of his favourite filmmakers’ works, like Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein (Randhawa mother and son are so Narayan Shankar coded!), or a hilarious dialogue about his Baahubali director Rajamouli that made me applaud. I could do a separate essay on just the nods! There’s even a scene involving a reality show he judged. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is KJo’s onscreen and off-screen worlds colliding, in the best way. It’s also a total nostalgia fest, both in treatment (a musical with a robust runtime) and in elements (old songs weaved in).
The film’s first half is outrageously funny, and HOT! The jokes land, Ranveer is a HOOT in a role that is custom-built for him, like a Gucci Bittoo Sharma. The stunning Alia Bhatt is desirous, and a flag bearer of all women of today, her family making you wish you had one like that. Meanwhile, Jaya Bachchan looks like she’s having the time of her life playing an arrogant, bitter character; something her pap videos have made people believe she is IRL!
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The dialogues, even the cheesiest ones, work like a charm. The chemistry between Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi, set to reprised versions of old songs from eras gone by, sure could teach some of the young kids how it’s done. The film handles their relationship with beautiful maturity; I was smiling throughout. Meanwhile, a part of my brain wanted to be the sexy saree-clad woman in Rocky’s arms, drenched in the rain, being kissed passionately in all the odd nooks and crannies of clandestine meeting places. Oh, to be kissed by Rocky… *heavy breathing*
If the first half is all about loving someone, the second is all about loving your family. But here’s where things take a surprising turn.
KJo has been rather vocal about how his worldview is coloured by the movies he grew up watching and loving. His cinema, therefore, has always been emotion-first, rarely bothered about what’s right, politically correct, or logical. At a producers’ roundtable in 2019, Johar mentioned how he has been making notes and “learning on the job” about the moral responsibility of filmmakers and producers over what messaging they put out. This is why it’s interesting to see the result of this unlearning on how he chooses to subvert tropes from some of his own films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, while still entertaining you to the fullest. To quote the film, soch nayi, swad wahi.
Also Read: “He Has Worked On Himself,” The Trial Star Kajol On RRKPK Director Karan Johar’s 25 Years In Film Industry
Take, for example, Ranveer’s over-the-top introductory sequence, à la Poo from K3G, which fully positions his Rocky Randhawa as the object of every woman’s desire, a job, I might add, nobody does better than KJo. As for his heroine, the progressive firebrand Rani Chatterjee, her sexiness is the first thing that catches the eye, but the gaze doesn’t linger. Instead, she gets a Bengali rap that plays in the background as she slow-mos her way through a newsroom (she’s a broadcast journalist) after taking a bad guy down, and ready to “taado” Rocky. In KJo’s modern romance, the man cries first, and the woman proposes. And no families are perfect.
Gone are the movies when couples in love eloped (QSQT), or left their homes because Babuji nahi maanenge (K3G). The new lot is stubborn, won’t settle, and isn’t afraid to speak up. They want both, family and love. For this blend of modern and traditional to succeed, change is non-negotiable. As Rocky and Rani switch homes, they aren’t just ‘convincing’ their families, they’re also undoing years of misogynist conditioning, helping liberate their elders from generational trauma, and learning from them. It’s not just about children teaching their parents the follies of their ways, it’s a two-way street and a reminder for us young ones that in matters of the heart, being kraantikaari is not enough; we must tread firmly but gently and with love.
The second half carries forth the light tone of the first until it switches gears and hits you like a gut punch in your emotions. In one scene, I was crying heavy tears while my brain kept thinking, “A K3G callback, that’s a K3G callback! Oh, I see what you did there Karan Johar!” The credit also goes to the dialogues, which hit the sweet spot on catharsis, saying exactly what you wish you could say to your family or what your family ought to say to you.
Also Read: Are You A Rocky Aur Rani Couple? Here’s How To Impress In-Laws From Different Cultural Backgrounds
It’s like Karan Johar got a chance to modernise Rahul and Anjali’s story from K3G and he nailed it. But without giving up any of the things that his audience, and he himself, loves about his brand of cinema: the dramatics, the flashy cameos, and unabashed emotions. The sets are grander than ever, with hundreds of background dancers, in colourful costumes (both Sabya red and Manish Malhotra red), and indulgent dance numbers. The Durga Puja sequence, set to ‘Dhindhora Baaje Re’, gets the loudest hoots! The music by Pritam is already such a hit; I haven’t stopped singing ’Tum Kya Mile’ since I heard it. And the whole mixing of original and existing music is handled well. Expect some surprises there, particularly how ‘Ro Len De’, an emotional ballad, makes you feel.
Ranveer Singh is the beating heart of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. You lust for his Rocky, you laugh at his jokes, you fall in love with his unabashed romance, and you tear up when he gets emotional. When he cries, you want to walk over to the screen and give him a tight hug. Singh plays Rocky with a carefree abandon that is his forte, a Punjabi accent that you soon notice is actually so different from Bittoo’s Dilli one in Band Baaja Baarat. No matter what your ’type’ is, you’ll be in love with Rocky by the end of this film. Basically, nobody could ever Rocky like Ranveer Rockys, you know what I minz, babez?
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Alia Bhatt as the fierce Rani is breathtakingly beautiful in her sarees and jhumkas. She is impressive in the scenes where she flies solo or must take the lead. But it does feel like she’s holding back, unable to fully commit to her chemistry with Ranveer. They do look fantastic together, no doubt. The chemistry is very much there, but I still felt something was missing. And erm, the Bengali is not always giving, it comes and goes.
But, oh, let’s talk about the absolute scene-stealers, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan! Azmi’s Bengali is a masterclass; like music to your ears, adding such grace and poise to her scenes. And Jaya Bachchan ma’am did not come to play! While all actors effectively switch gears, in her it’s most natural, who until before felt like a brilliant spoof of husband Amitabh Bachchan’s multiple authoritarian characters like Yashovardhan Raichand and Narayan Shankar, until she isn’t. Her arc is so satisfying, and so apt, and ends with a scene that will make you smile bittersweet.
I thought she and Dharmendra were perfectly cast in their roles, with their off-screen personas elevating the effect of their on-screen characters. Dharmendra just made me want to hug him, every single time he appeared. The rest of the supporting cast hold their own too—an ever-impressive Aamir Bashir, a loveable Kshitee Jog, an elegant Tota Roy Chowdhury, and a funny and effective Churni Ganguly.
Also Read: What to Watch This Week Of July 24 To July 30: Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, Kaalkoot, Good Omens 2, And More
Yaar, koi Rocky jaisa ladka dilaa do?
Consistently hilarious, surprisingly subversive, and full of fan service for lovers of Karan Johar’s brand of Bollywood family entertainers, Rocky Aur Rani KiI Prem Kahaani is a complete package and a must-watch, with friends, lovers, and families. It’s so reassuring that the man took all the feedback that his movies received over the years, and evolved to find a middle ground. After all, that’s what you do when it’s about your love and loving your family, right?
Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is currently in theatres.