ROCK ON II Movie Review: Competently crafted and well shot genre drama


It’s a competently developed, written, directed, performed, and shot drama that manipulates familiar genre elements and themes quite adeptly to create an engaging film. It could have been more visceral and inspired but then that’s too much to expect from Bollywood or Hollywood or even art-house doyens. So, let us be content with these competent jobs for the time being.

It’s a stand-alone sequel. You don’t really have to be familiar with its predecessor to comprehend various strands of the narrative. And the most important element of the film is its setting. Large portions of the story are set in the Indian state of Meghalaya and it has become the central ‘non-genre’ and ‘inspired’ character of the film. When you come across those expressions in film reviews about how the location is one of the characters, this is the best illustration of that. Meghalaya overwhelms and entices you at the same time. It’s the hero of the film. And if you see adventurous Indian tourists cancelling their overseas holiday plans and booking hotels in Shillong, and making a beeline to it, don’t be surprised. 

This should please the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is so keen to promote Indian tourist destinations around the world, particularly of the North East region.  
Three remaining members of the Mumbai based Indian rock band Magik are leading their separate lives owing to an unfortunate incident that shook the lead singer and writer-composer Adi (Farhan Akhtar) to the core. He mostly lives in a far off Meghalaya village, trying to run a farmers’ co-operative. The lead guitarist Joseph "Joe" Mascarenhas (Arjun Rampal) has resigned himself to a life of judging talent hunt shows on TV and running a pub cum music club. Kedar aka KD (Purab Kohli), the drummer, still keeps trying to revive the band. A major fire at the farmer’s co-operative/commune sends Adi into a state of despair and depression and he almost kills himself but is saved by Jiah Sharma (Shraddha Kapoor), a music enthusiast, and daughter of the Sarod maestro Pandit Sharma (Kumud Mishra). She goes about recording folk music of interior regions of India as a hobby. She writes music as well, a fusion of Rock & classical elements. She has also recorded a song with a young Sarod player Uday (Shashank Arora). She knows that her father will disapprove of what she is doing and thus keeps her work to herself. Uday, desperately looking for work, sends her song CD to Magik, and is called for an audition. Jiah after a brief fight and considering Uday’s desperate pleadings agrees to go for it.

Adi, who is presently recuperating in Mumbai, is also present when Jiah and Uday come for the audition. He thanks Jiah for saving his life. Joe, KD, and Adi like what Jiah and Uday have done and they decide to have their debut gig in Joe’s club. Jiah is not comfortable with it but agrees reluctantly. But somehow she freezes during the performance and walks out. Joe is damn pissed off and that’s when Uday tells them that she is Pt. Sharma’s daughter and how her brother had committed suicide. This comes as a devastating blow to Adi, Joe, and KD. It was the suicide for which Adi blamed himself and left Mumbai and music making and ran away to far off Meghalaya in a state of etrrnal perdition, with no solace in sight. Will he have his moment of redemption now when what he has been running away from stares right into his face? Or will he turn his back and run away yet again?

Suffice to say that the film has a positive ending. All characters have their moments of joy and redemption. The opening few paragraphs of the review sum it up sufficiently. Let me add here that though the music sounds fine, the lyrics are terrible, laden with clichéd sloganeering, except in the lively song the original Band is shown performing in a wedding party in a flashback sequence.

It’s an engaging smartly crafted film. I won’t call it an exceptional work.


Directed by: Shujaat Saudagar, Produced by: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Written by: Abhishek Kapoor, Pubali Chaudhuri, Starring: Farhan Akhtar,
Arjun Rampal, Shraddha Kapoor, Purab Kohli, Prachi Desai, Shashank Arora, Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Cinematography:   Marc Koninckx, Edited by: Anand Subaya, Production company: Excel Entertainment, Distributed by: Eros International

Rajesh Kumar Singh

@khulkebolo @neelnabh


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