A good sequel is one that starts from where the prequel ended and retains the essence of the original. Rock On 2 scores full marks in that department. The film starts with the last stage performance of Magik and gradually takes us into the lives of each member of the band. Shujaat Saudagar, in his debut movie, pieces together all his characters one by one, who are deeply affected by either a tragedy, guilt or success.
It’s interesting how Joe and Aditya seem to have exchanged not only their houses but personalities as well. Joe (Arjun Rampal) is no longer a struggler. He is now a celebrity judge on a singing reality show and runs a club. He is self-assured now and has traded his sensitivity with Aditya’s arrogance. Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) has been fighting guilt for five years.
One would think he would repent by helping young musicians instead he chooses to give up music and create Swades Part 2 in Meghalaya. It’s a bit of a tangent but Farhan’s acting chops come handy to make it all look believable. I especially liked how he played Aditya differently every time the movie went back in flashback. He also nails it in emotional scenes. Farhan knows how to keep it subtle and real.
The director largely refrains from infusing the narrative with Bollywood clichés but seems to submit to them briefly towards the end of the movie. It seems like the director felt the need to have some (forced) friction in a film that’s mostly driven by emotions and internal struggles. Hence it looks a bit funny when a Northeast goon acts like he is from Haryana.
Besides Farhan, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Prachi Desai and Shashank Arora pack in decent performances. Shraddha Kapoor shows promise especially in her scenes with Shashank Arora. This indeed is one of her most restrained performances yet she doesn’t portray Jia’s pain who is dealing with a grave tragedy. She even gets an opportunity in an emotional scene, alas she screams too much to leave an impact.
And the climax of ‘Jia kaha gayi, let’s dhoondo Jia’ left me underwhelmed. Kumudh Mishra as Shraddha’s father as always is efficient but looks like Thakur from Sholay in that shawl he sports throughout the movie. A movie that’s about a rock band and has music as its theme doesn’t promise a fabulous soundtrack. Some of the songs (The Wedding Song- You Know What I Mean) are forced into the narrative.
The only time I felt happy was when Vishal Dadlani and Usha Uthup perform towards the end of the film. Rock On 2 is a good attempt on following a band’s story. We miss Luke’s Rob but we do welcome the new band members who are effortlessly brought into the band.