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All the characters in Rock On 2 have different levels of angst, anguish and internal turmoil. It has all to be sorted out in 2hours 19 minutes. That must account for the dense drama that makes the atmosphere as thick as the Cherrapunji forest which features in the movie.
The story is set in beautiful Meghalaya where Adi has now gone into hiding. He has become a kind of social worker, setting up a farmers’ co-op society. He is tortured by visions of the suicide of a young singer that he feels he is responsible for. Joe has become a successful nightclub owner and reality show host. He is tortured too about being so commercial but is stoic about it. Killer Drummer is tortured that the band doesn’t play together but he still keeps the wisecracks going (Thank God). Prachi Desai is peeved because she is stuck being a single parent and we don’t know if Shahana is tortured because she is only in one scene. Ok, that’s catch up with the old gang. Enter Jiah, a talented musician who is sad because she cannot do fusion music since her dad, a classical musician hates it. The only person who is happy is Adi’s little son and rightly so. A sequel has yet to catch up with him.
The good folk of the Meghalaya village face a crisis when there is a forest fire that destroys everything. Adi almost dies with grief (on top of his earlier angst, it would be a bit much for anyone, and he is a sensitive musician after all) comes back to Mumbai and then meets Jiah. Then they all work together to exorcise all the demons and save the Meghalaya village and go back to what the movie should have been all about- music.
The story is very slow in picking up steam. Until the interval pretty much nothing happens except for one revelation for the story to move ahead. Post interval the tempo should have picked up but it still remains sluggish. in fact, at one point it gets tiring as the band faces one hurdle after another in setting up their concert. Even superheroes in animation movies don’t face so many troubles as our well-meaning souls.
If you don’t think of the movie as a music based one, it works pretty well as a redemption story with all the characters trying to come to terms with their lives. There is some depth I admit but it’s hard to be so serious all the time and enjoy a movie too. The bigger disappointment for me is the music which doesn’t have the same spirit that the earlier movie had. The only song that really got the energy levels up in the theatre was the one by the Shillong based band Somersault and sung along wth the superb Usha Uthup decked out in traditional North East gear. The movie is based in Meghalaya but none of those influences are present in the music even though Jiah is shown recording local music often. It would have been wonderful to see some fusion there from Shankar Ehsaan Loy.
The performances are good. Farhan looks cool as usual and is intense, Arjun Rampal is all chisel and stone even expression-wise which suits him and Purab Kohli is endearing as always. Shradha Kapoor does a fine job of singing her songs and also makes use of her ABCD2 experience by doing a Shakira type song in the end (which is also a god song).
Rock on 2 may have been far more enjoyable if it had been shorter. Lesser drama and a crisper telling may have increased the intensity of the story and of course some more music would have kept us entertained. It’s a decent movie, there’s just too much of it.