There is a life-defining sequence in the early part of this stylishly-cut film where the excellent Shashank Arora, playing a young struggling musician – a sarod player in this day and age – if you must know, pleads with the supremely accomplished Kumud Mishra playing a rigid musician, for a hearing. A request that falls on deaf ears because Guruji is a purist who believes music must not be tampered with to create a contemporary sound.
Ironically, this is what ‘Rock On 2’, a worthy resoundingly successful sequel to the 2008 genre-defining musical, attempts. It breaks the barrier of sound and drama to give us an experience that moves the feet and the soul, sometimes in unison. From the first frame, when we hear ‘Killer Drums’ KD (the very endearing Purab Kohli) trying successfully to regroup our thoughts on the band that we saw eight years ago, the sequel is on a winning streak, creating an immaculate balance between the past and present without straining to give credence to the characters’ inner voices.
Shujaat Saudagar, take a bow, for bringing back the ‘Rock On!!’ characters with such effortless expertise, and for adding new characters in and outside the musical band with a fluency that defies the limitations time necessarily imposes on works of pop art that are left out in the cold for too long.
Everything in ‘Rock On 2’ fits. And fits without a squirm. Even the attempt to yoke a socio-political conscience into the musical format is not strained by over-kill. By situating a major part of the plot in Shillong and Meghalaya, the screenwriter has displayed exemplary dexterity.
The narrative conveys a commanding comprehension of inter-personal dynamics.
The characters seem to ‘belong’ to their surroundings from long before the camera caught them on screen in postures of delightfully reposeful unselfconsciousness. It won’t be stretching the argument to say this film does for Meghalaya tourism what ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ did for Spain.
Every character seems to understand the need to stand back and let the music play without self-congratulation. Purab Kohli and Arjun Rampal slip into their characters as if they have not done anything else in the interim.
These actors should be seen a lot more often. Shashank Arora of ‘Titli’ fame is a welcome addition to the team. Farhan Akhtar dominates the proceedings. His character Adi is a complex compendium of shifting emotions, including guilt which plays a very important part in this segment of the franchise. In one sequence, where Shraddha’s character tries to exonerate him of the guilt that haunts him, Farhan is deeply moving.
If as William Shakespeare volunteered, music is actually the food of love, then this film is a feast.