By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 11, 2016

Rating: 4.5 / 5


The essence: Rock On, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara… this one is a feast!

Shujaat Saudagar had a baton to take to the finish line. He had a tough task, as all eyes would be on him, expecting a far more riveting sequel, if not equally engrossing as Rock On. Taking it from Abhishek Kapoor, and prodded on by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Ahktar, this first-time director in Bollywood chests the finish line in style.

You can almost see Messrs Sidhwani and Akhtar along with Arjun, Purab and Prachi pumping their fists in the air. Welcome to Rock On 2. Saudagar has maintained the pulse of the story as well as the camaraderie of the musicians from Magik!

Kedar Zaveri (Purab Kohli) picks up the pieces from 2008, as his voice-over updates us on what his friends are now doing. Joe Mascarenhas (Arjun Rampal) is now a judge at a reality show and also runs a successful night club. He is a successful businessman. Yes, he has mellowed. Kedar has left his family jewellery business and is making music with Joe. Aditya Shroff (Farhan Akhtar) now spends most of his time in a small village in Meghalaya. He is helping out the villagers. But what he actually is running away from is the trauma of an incident which he holds himself responsible for.

Rahul is a musician and has been following Magik and the music they make. He sees hope in their record company for his music and takes a CD of his composition to Adi. Time and again, he hounds Adi to hear his CD and hear his opinion. Adi, however, meaning to hear it, does not get the time. Their company has been inundated with CDs from young hopefuls.

Frustrated, Rahul hangs himself and Adi blames himself for this incident. Meghalaya is where he is finding some relief from the pain that is eating him up even though he has to leave his wife and young son in Mumbai. But is Adi really responsible for Rahul’s suicide?

This is how writers Pubali Chaudhuri and Ritesh Sidhwani get the plot to move forward from 2008, although it was just five years ago that Rahul met Adi.

Though living away and meeting occasionally with his friends, Adi, Joe and Kedar are thick. Their views may have differed over the years but love for the other is intact, and so is their music. Another incident brings Adi back to the city. His expression as the camera brings concrete into perspective through developing towers as opposed to the greenery Adi has been spending these past five years in is beautifully captured.

Before making his shift back to the city, Adi is cared for by Jiah Sharma (Shraddha Kapoor) who he encounters in another depressing state of his. She looks after him before handing him back to the villagers. Adi never gets a chance to thank her but being a musician, their paths cross and what unfolds is music to the eyes!

Farhan Akhtar as the intense Adi who finds his groove and his voice back is a delight. The same stubbornness of Rock On is there, albeit a little mellow. His body language is the same, so is his underlying love for his wife played by Prachi Desai.

Arjun Rampal’s Joe has mellowed. He knows the journey to the top is arduous and he is considerate of the talent that comes to him. One scene where he agrees to take care of the concert to raise funds for Shillong is telling. “Main jaanta hoon bhook jab lagta hai to kya hota hai,” he tells his friends as he reminisces of his childhood.

Purab Kohli’s Kedar has not changed. That teenager in him is still alive. He is the life of the gang, the one who guides the path. Shahana Goswami who comes for a brief reunion brings to mind her powerful characterization of Debbie Mascarenhas. It’s a pity we do not see more of her.

Shraddha Kapoor and Shashank Arora who plays Uday, the new members of Magik, bring that youthful zest back to the band. Arora as the disillusioned musician who wants his big break is lovable.

Shraddha makes Jiah her own. She is a delight from the word go as she slowly moves into her very crucial role bringing it to a peak towards the end. There are two powerful scenes with her and Farhan and her and her father played by Kumud Mishra that she completely steals. In fact, Farhan melts in this one particular scene as the huge burden is lifted off his chest. As for her father, Shraddha manages to show him the mirror.

Although the music never matches up to the original, the end song Neela aakash jo ek samundar hai… is a powerful ballad.

Rock On… Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara… This one is a feast!

Producer: Sunil A Lulla, Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
Director: Shujaat Saudagar
Star Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Shraddha Kapoor, Prachi Desai, Purab Kohli, Shashank Arora, Shahana Goswami

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