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‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ – Family entertainer presses many of the right buttons in Karan Johar return (review)…

‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ – Family entertainer presses many of the right buttons in Karan Johar return (review)…

Star director, top cast in great form, cute script – there’s a lot to admire here…

By Suman Bhuchar

AFTER a seven-year hiatus from directing, Karan Johar hits the screens with his romantic comedy, ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ (also known as ‘RRKPK’*), starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in the titular roles.

The premise is simple: Punjabi brawn meets Bengali brain and the two fall in love but the path of true love is never smooth.

As someone puts it in the film, love is like holding a steering wheel of a car with the family as back seat drivers.

Rani Chatterjee (Alia Bhatt) and
Kanwal Lund Randhawa (Dharmendra)

Rocky – in an enjoyable performance from Ranveer Singh – is the scion of Dhanlakshmi Sweets run by severe matriarch Dhanlakshmi Randhawa, played with absolute po-faced villainy by Jaya Bachchan.

Her attention to detail is impeccable – her Punjabi persona is brilliant and she definitely stays in character throughout.

How do our two lovers – Rocky Randhawa (Ranveer) and Rani Chatterjee (Alia Bhatt) meet?

We get the brief backstory — spoiler alert — Rocky’s grandpa, Kanwal Lund, played by Dharmendra, is an aging amnesiac, who has slightly lost his marbles due to a fall and is in a wheelchair. He also has a penchant for kissing random women. (Kissing seems to feature a lot in this film).

He also preferred poetry to business, so he is locked away in his room while his wife, Dhanlakhsmi and son, Tijori (Aamir Bashir) hold the reins.

Grandpa moons over a brief fling he had as a young man and Rocky tries to reunite him with the mysterious woman called Jaimini – who turns out to be Rani’s grandma played by Shabana Azmi and in the ruse of connecting the older couple, the younger come together.

Dhanalaxmi Randhwawa (Jaya Bachchan)

Along the way we discuss patriarchy, sexism, Black Lives Matter, double standards, fat-shaming, tradition and culture.

One of subjects is also – why do women always have to live with their in-laws after marriage?

In order to challenge this, the couple do a house swap with their prospective in-laws and in due course challenge those perennial stereotypes and pre-conceptions between Bengalis and Punjabis.

Johar packs in a lot of ‘edutainment’ in between the comedy quips as well as politics.

Eagle eyed viewers will notice the blue/yellow saree in the Kashmir song scene ‘Tum Kya Mile’ and will definitely make the links.

The Durga Puja scene between Rocky and his father-in law, Chandon Chatterjee (Tota Roy Chowdhury) is also particularly moving and beautifully designed.

Rani’s (Bhatt’s) father – Chandon Chatterjee (Tota Roy Chowdhury), her grandmother Jaimini Chatterjee (Shabana Azmi), husband Rocky Randhwawa (Ranveer Singh), and mother – Anjali Chatterjee (Churni Ganguly)

The writers team of Ishita Moitra, Shashank Khaitan and Sumit Roy have given us some witty Punjabi/English lingua franca.

At first, I thought the subtitles were spelt incorrectly but it’s written phonetically so you can enjoy the coarse Punjabi humour.

The film’s not perfect with its irritating use of constant background sound effects or old songs which diminished my enjoyment.

Despite this, I laughed at the dialogue, enjoyed the performances and Ali Bhatt looked stunning in her range of designer saris.

This is a high octane family entertainer melodrama and a lot of fun.

ACV rating: **** (out of five)

‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ is out in cinemas worldwide now

*This is the way it is spelt on their official posters etc

Spot the sari from 38 seconds

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture