Is Farhan Akhtar's 'Rock On 2' rocking enough?
Dubai - The sequel to 2008's Rock On is a clumsy film that tires you with its lack of depth and pretensions, writes Deepa Gauri.
The premise couldn't be faulted: After the feel-good, we-will-chase-our-dreams setting of 2008's Rock On, its sequel had to be more 'coming of age' when it arrives eight years later. But Rock On II is such a letdown with characters that are poorly fleshed out, and the plot points contrived and predictable.
Worse, it does a disservice to the north-eastern state of Meghalaya. In the name of celebrating the state's fascinating underground music and heady vibes - that you must experience to know - this film caricatures the people and underlines Bollywood's ignorance about life anywhere other than under its nose.
That makes Rock On II a regressive film of sorts, more so because it comes from Farhan Akhtar, who writes some of the corniest lines to come out of Bollywood in recent times in this failed musical journey.
Where did the magic of the man who broke stereotypes and challenged conventions go? Where did the writer who inspired countless young people to see cinema from a new perspective disappear?
And how could he, of all people, have taken on Meghalaya to come up with a distorted film that becomes a wasted opportunity to have brought the northeast to the mainstream?
It is not about misplaced expectations; it is really about how callous Bollywood's filmmakers are, especially when they are successful.
That is why Farhan Akhtar, reprising his role as Aditya, the singer, is utterly unconvincing in this sequel as the man who runs away from himself to Meghalaya where he sets up a farmer's cooperative, fights corrupt government officials, runs a school and saves poor people in distress.
In a telling reminder of Bollywood's holier-than-thou attitude, you have Adi coming to a camp of the local people - and as if he is a superstar, a man shouts 'Adi is coming, Adi is coming.' The next five minutes appear straight out of a Rajnikanth movie, where the man is portrayed as the saviour. Really? Farhan, too, can loose his plot?
Rock On II has most of the cast from its original. Now, their band is gone, and each one is trying to find his peace. Adi, however, cannot because a past tragedy is haunting him. A chance encounter with Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) brings him face-to-face with it. How he navigates it with the help of music is what Rock On II is supposed to be.
Only, the narrative is bland and boring. Farhan, despite his attempt to look brooding and serious, is too forced. Shraddha looks confused half the time, while Arjun Rampal and Purab Kohli hardly get roles they can impress audiences with- as they did in the original.
This film is made for Farhan Akhtar and that is its problem. While Rock On saw the film in its totality, the sequel seeks to celebrate the star in Farhan.
And in doing so, Farhan - as writer and actor - gets out of touch with reality and gets carried away. Even the music, what should have been the soul of the movie, becomes second-hand.
Therefore, when Farhan sings Jago post interval, know that it is your cue - to get up and run away.
Rock On II- Directed by Shujaat Saudagar
- Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor
- Now playing at theatres in the UAE
- Rating: 1.5/5