Banner: Excel Entertainment
Producers: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
Director: Shujaat Saudagar
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Shraddha Kapoor, Purab Kohli, Shashank Arora, Prachi Desai, Kumud Mishra, Shahana Goswami (s.a)
Writer: Abhishek Kapoor (story), Pubali Chaudhuri (story & screenplay), Farhan Akhtar (dialogue)
With a hit prequel like Rock On and a stellar cast attached to it, this sequel had massive expectations to live up to. But it was too tall an order for producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, whose Rock On 2, directed by debutant Shujaat Saudagar, fails to impress.
The film is undoubtedly one of the weakest films ever made by their banner, Excel Entertainment. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that with its pathetic screenplay, the sequel is a crashing bore. How could a production house like Excel, which has delivered some really good cinema, have failed so miserably?
Why make a film which neither impresses on the story board nor on execution? Rock on 2 has all the ingredients for a great entertainer – an ensemble cast, a successful prequel and decent music – but the film missed a great opportunity to marry potentially good content with commercial viability.
The story is an extension of the first part of the film and starts with Adi (Farhan Akhtar), who now lives in Meghalaya. He has left his old life behind and is now working for the welfare of the locals. Joe (Arjun Rampal) is now a reality show judge and owns a popular bar that plays live music. KD (Purab Kohli) still hopes that the band members will reconcile and that they will get back together again.
It turns out that Adi is running away from his past, post-Magik, the talent management firm started by the group years ago to promote new talent. Adi is still shouldering guilt associated with a young musician’s suicide.
On the other hand, Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) is a musician but is afraid to perform live on stage. Jiah is fighting her own demons and is weighted down by her own baggage which comes from being the daughter of a classical musician (Kumud Mishra). When Jiah’s father refuses to teach Uday (Shashank Arora) music, Jiah and Uday collaborate on a song. Uday sends the recording to KD, who gets a ray of hope when he listens to the recording. Another tragedy strikes Adi’s life when the village he lives in catches fire. How the story unfolds further forms the crux of the film.
Directorially, Saudagar fails to impress. Plus the screenplay by Pubali Chaudhuri is a major letdown. The premise is scattered and the film also suffers from a half-baked narrative. The writer and director have done nothing to enhance the subject, resulting in a mediocre story with situations which appear stilted.
Nowadays, films are either regarded as ‘projects’ or true cinema. Thanks to poor writing, Rock On 2 is a miserable failure as a sequel to a successful film. While on paper, the project might look impressive, its translation to the big screen is uninspiring. From beginning to end, you wonder why the writers failed to take a potential sequel winner, add the right punches and drama, and make this film an out-and-out entertainer.
There are a few notable moments in the film, including the one between Joe and KD; when Jiah fails to show up on stage; Adi’s first meeting with Jiah; and Adi and Jiah’s visit to the refugee camp. Locations and costumes are top notch. Technically, the film impresses. Music and background score go well with the tone of the film. Cinematography by Marc Koninckx is the main USP of the film. His camerawork and framing, especially of the Meghalaya region, is fabulous. Editing by Anand Subaya could have been crisper and, with a runtime of 139 minutes, the film could have been shortened.
Performance-wise, Farhan Akhtar plays his part well and does justice to his role. Arjun Rampal delivers a splendid performance as does Shraddha Kapoor. Purab Kohli is fabulous in his part. Shashank Arora doesn’t have much scope in his role. Prachi Desai in a minute role is notable as is Kumud Mishra. Shahana Goswami in her special appearance is okay. The others fit the bill.