Rocky aur rani ki prem Kahani is Karan Johar’s latest Bollywood movie which is a love story with a lot of family drama and a dozen of social commentaries!
Let me be honest. This is the kind of movie I would avoid. The patriot in me wanted to watch Gadar 2 but because of peer pressure I reluctantly booked tickets for this one. I could bash it up on my blog – was the only possible incentive. But it turns out, I found the movie quite entertaining. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It has a lot of fun elements and tries to address a lot of social issues all at the same time. I will not talk about whether Karan Johar gets it right or wrong, or that we have a long way to go. I appreciate the effort coming from the person whose first movie was about a woman waiting for 8 years for a man who had dumped her for a prettier woman!
In a nutshell
Rani is a highly successful, intellectual Bengali woman who has done a quick pass course in feminism. In her very first scene, she stands up to a powerful politician about an alleged rape incident so that we know that she is a strong woman who will not take any atrocities. Rocky is not so educated, happy – go -lucky Punjabi boy from a filthy rich family who doesn’t have much purpose in life. Rocky and Rani meet because Rani’s grandmother and Rocky’s grandfather had a fling back in the day. Now Rocky very inappropriately wants his grandfather to meet his old fling because apparently the old man only reacts to beautiful old women and conveniently forgets everything else. Rocky’s grandmother is a flagbearer of patriarchy who controls her son and his family. Of course Rocky and Rani fall in love and we know that because in the middle of a song, they start smooching. But their families are so different! How will Nepotism Chacha make Rocky and Rani love each other when it is all about loving your parents?
I want to make this a no spoiler review so I will talk only in terms of the scenes that touched me the most.
- Kathak Dance by men
There is a scene in which a male character dances to a Kathak song. He is excited because he is an artist and what does an artist crave more than a stage and an audience!
He dances beautifully. But people laugh. Because he is a man performing Kathak. His moves are feminine. Men who think being manly means yelling, hitting, and being angry and arrogant cannot understand a man who is so secure with his masculinity that he can perform a classical dance mostly performed by women.
When our hero who has been raised in a patriarchal household, and has been taught so much of shit since childhood joins this man to dance to ‘Dola re dola’ on Durga Puja, with Maa’s powerful idol in the backdrop, it is indeed a spectacular sequence.
- Women are not a different species
When I was little and I did not even wear a bra, I knew that a bra cannot be hung in the balcony in full public view. It has to be hidden. I even remembered a time when I went to my aunt’s house and there was a bra hanging on a rope in the garden. There were lots of communications made by hand gestures and eye movements amongst the older women without uttering the taboo word to make sure that the garment was strategically removed or at the least hidden before anyone else saw it. Even today, a bra is folded underneath bigger clothes. A strap peeking out calls for an eye gesture among women to put it back where it belongs so that we don’t accidentally entice someone.
There is a scene in the movie when our hero says he cannot even look at a bra because he “respects” women. An older lady tells him that he can respect a woman only when he thinks of her as another human, equal to him and not another species.
Evil MILs and their spineless sons
The evil mother-in-law in this movie portrayed brilliantly by Jaya Bachchan says that she would not want to lose her grandson. So she does what most of these evil MILs do. Let the son think that his wife is welcome in their home, but what they actually plan is for the poor girl’ exit as soon as possible. Being evil all their lives, having decades of experience in being a bitch pays off!! A 20- 30 something woman doesn’t stand a chance.
Rani rightly tells the woman that she can see only one woman can be happy in this house. This is so true. I have seen women like that. They control their husbands. They control their sons. They make their DILs miserable. They don’t care about their son’s happiness either. Since this is a Karan Johar movie, the son has a change of heart quite soon probably because the thought of being alone with this horrendous woman scares him. Very fictional because in reality, an Indian man’s ego would not allow him to see what his mother truly is.
Overall highly watchable!
The three actors that stood out for me were Ranveer Singh, Tata Roy Chowdhury and Jaya Bachchan. Tata Roy Singh’s performance was so endearing. He made me cry. Jaya Bachchan’s character was so evil that it could have turned comic like a Lalita Pawar. But an actress of that caliber who knows her craft so well, she held her own. Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi’s extra marital affair back in the day was justified with a sad backstory. I guess Nepotism Chacha got so much flak after Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna that he is super careful with adultery now. He did want to risk it! Kshitee Jog is adorable as Rocky’s mother. Anjali Anand did not have a big role but the woke checklist had to be ticked for fat shaming. Her character was quite likeable. As usual, Alia looks very pretty and her acting is good too. Although I feel she was quite repetitive, similar to what she did in Two States.
Ranveer Singh is an insanely gifted actor. I have always liked his acting. Never liked him as a man though. I feel like he is always so over the top like a child who has had too much sugar and refuses to sleep. But this actor can beat any of his contemporaries with his expressions.
Watch it for Ranveer Singh. He stole the show.