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When a sequel to a film is made, one generally goes with the expectation of re-living the old magic created by that film a few years ago. In doing so, what one tends to forget is that the director, story-writer, editor, actors in the sequel might be different and would have their own different perspectives on the story, or might want to purposely bring in a different perspective altogether.
Rock On II is a film which came across to me as a logical progression of Rock On released in 2008. While that was directed by Abhishek Kapoor, this one has Shujaat Saudagar at the helm. While that one showed the band re-uniting for personal reasons, this one shows the re-union for a social cause.
It has been eight years since the band reunited and made some music and some magic, before the three friends have sort of split up and gone their own ways, but kept in touch. Farhan Akhtar is in a remote village near Shillong in Meghalaya, trying to come to terms with a tragedy he holds himself responsible for. By forming a farmers’ cooperative and running a school in the village he is trying to fight the demons of his past; while his son and wife and the other two friends continue to live and work in Mumbai. Another tragedy, this time affecting the villagers he is trying to help, forces him to return to Mumbai; but also brings him face-to-face with the consequences of the earlier one. In trying to deal with both simultaneously, he also manages to exorcise his demons, give the world a new singing talent, reunite his band Magik for a social cause and create music, which is his first love.
The story progresses a little too slowly, but does not falter. The film deals with the age-old friction between what are considered pure, classical art forms ( in this case classical music), and the new-age, hybrid, fusion forms which the purists refuse to consider as music. So when you have exponents of both under one roof, the friction is bound to be considerable; at times snuffing out the less strongly represented one. But there have to be several ways of looking at the different forms – there always have been. Music, like everything else, has to evolve with changing times; what does not evolve dies out. And evolving does not mean giving in to popular demand or to what sells; it means creating newer forms with the classical as the base, which people will accept because these new forms are equally good. This is the message that the film conveys. I couldn’t help but draw a comparison between the father-daughter duo Pandit Ravi Shankar and Norah Jones and the father-daughter duo of the film, Kumud Mishra and Shraddha Kapoor. Both talented, both masters in their own expressions of music. The film characters show a similar contrast and talent.
There is no romantic involvement of the lead actors Farhan Akhtar and Shraddha Kapoor, which is such a welcome change. They help and complement each other, they are fellow singers and songwriters and friends with a respect for each other, but not romantically involved. Indian cinema is evolving, for sure.
The music is totally different from the Rock On of 2008 and to many people it was a disappointment, what with the catchy tunes and the “everyday” lyrics ( my term to describe the Javed Akhtar lyrics – remember ” Meri laundry ka ek bill…”) being the USP of that film.
The lyrics in Rock On II are completely different and so are the songs. No catchy tunes here. “Soulful” is the key word here – the lyrics are more meaningful, beautifully worded, with a “shayarana andaz” almost, and the tunes are in accordance. So, to many, the music disappoints. The grand dame of Indian pop, Usha Uthup, makes a cameo appearance as herself, along with Vishal Dadlani and a couple of singers from the Shillong-based band Somersault in the climax of the film, a concert. Overall, the music does not really take you by storm, but does grow on you gradually.
I liked the film. I would rate it a 3.5/5. One can see that a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the making of the sequel; it hasn’t been made just because the original film was a top grosser of that year. Almost all of the original cast returned, except for Koel Puri and Luke Kenny, whose character Rob died in the earlier film. I would recommend watching it without expecting it to be same as the earlier one – the time difference is shown to be five years ( eight years since the forming of Magik and five since the friends part ways again) and the characters are shown to have the corresponding maturity all those years passed by are bound to bring. Don’t go if you are expecting a racy, blood-pounding rock concert; do watch if you like emotional stories.
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