It was never about the singing, but it was always about the music. Eight years ago, Rock On!! ticked all the right boxes for its songs and lyrics that spoke about a generation, about love, about growing up, even chasing dreams, quite uniquely, like Sinbad the sailor.
Adi (Farhan Akhtar), Joe (Arjun Rampal), KD (Purab Kohli) do grow up, as they must. And for a while, it seems the scriptwriters – Pubali Chaudhari and the original film’s writer-director Abhishek Kapoor (who had to go to court to get credit as co-writer) — have a sharp-eyed take on the music industry as it exists today. With reality shows and music clubs (judges as owners, owners as judges, and no conflict of interest baggage), rich clients who may open doors, and poor musicians who can be shown out.
Then, Meghalaya enters the picture. Or rather, is dragged in, to give Akhtar, who perhaps is not satisfied being the film’s lead actor and singer, dialogue writer, and producer — only a grey hair or two short of a regular messiah — a chance to show up bureaucracy and come to the rescue of hapless denizens in the tiny northeastern state whose only fault appears to be its shaky reputation as “India’s rock capital”.
In five years of bearing the guilt of having caused a young musician’s suicide, through not giving him the time of day, Adi has built a school, formed a cooperative society of farmers, and earned some very loyal friendships in a Meghalaya village. These don’t break even when he ups and goes after a tragedy strikes.
This is, of course, all eased along by the view from the sea-facing penthouse he inhabits in his alternative universe in Mumbai. The aforesaid penthouse presumably eases wife Sachi’s (Prachi Desai, shorter hair than Rock On!!, same grouses) pain too largely, and allows their son to be remarkably calm about his absentee father’s parting advice of “only watching TV Saturday and Sunday”. Before that, Sachi has told Adi that the idyllic, wooden-lined, artistically decorated and candle-lit house in Meghalaya is alright, but she must head back to Mumbai for son Rob has an “art assignment due on Monday”.
Watch | 5 Reasons To Watch Rock On 2
In other times, that would call for a song. It’s not that the characters of Rock On 2 aren’t keen to break into one either – on the contrary, the desperation to do that every time the film sags is quite evident, as is the tendency to hark back to the golden time of eight years ago. It’s that it’s hard to decipher what any of those songs are trying to say through lyrics that are a lot of heavy-minded words thrown together and floundering in their own depth. Even Jaago, with its lyrics (deciphered through Net), calling the youth to rise against all that is expected or demanded of them, drowns in Akhtar’s jumping theatrics.
The heaviest burden of the mouthful lyrics is borne by Shraddha Kapoor, who as a closet singer does an otherwise decent job of a girl tentatively exploring her talent and giving her vocal chords a try. In the so carefully careless look borne by the rest of the stars, particularly Akhtar, and at times Rampal, hers is a very interesting take of a girl experimenting with clothes and make-up, and struggling to decide on one. Kapoor or Jiya’s story is a father, a classical musician, who treats every music that doesn’t confirm to his purist tastes as blasphemy.
That too could have been a story. But that is far removed from Meghalaya, and Rock On 2 unfailingly keeps making its way there, even via a relief camp where a chap announces his entry by running down shouting “Adi aaya, Adi aaya”, in chaste Hindi.
The only time Rock On 2 hits some ‘Magik’ – the name of their band, remember – is when it lets its hair down and sings, decked all Beatles-style, at a perfect wedding, ‘You know what I mean?’.
Do you? Know what I mean?