After seven long years, Karan Johar finally gave his fans another taste of the grandiose old-school Bollywood formula film. With the success of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, many are wondering if Bollywood has truly progressed towards greater grandeur.
While complimenting the film for being a “typical Bollywood potboiler,” the Indian Express also criticised it for being unoriginal and full of tired tropes. An unapologetic cheesy aesthetic goes hand in hand with moments of real heart, designed to make us melt. Karan Johar has always worked with the adage that describes a typical Bollywood potboiler (‘iss film mein emotion hai, colour hai, aur bahut saara loud background music hai’), but in his better outings, he has managed to fuse those elements into his own individual stamp.
The article claimed that Johar’s signature style was missing from the family drama. Johar is underutilised in Rocky and Rani. Want extremely large sets? Just take the word “huge” from my hand. You need glimmer? Naach-gaana? Good-looking funerals? Mansions with too much bling Everything is in place. What, you seek novelty? It said, “You can’t expect that to happen.”
The Indian Express pointed out the film’s hyperbole. They said, “Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani has no place for nuance or subtlety; it’s the kind of film where every note is hammered in.”
The Hindustan Times said that the film was true to the classic Bollywood style. It said, “Rich families, over-the-top settings, family values, emotions, love, and heartbreak topped with flashy costumes and beautifully choreographed dance numbers… Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (RARKPK) is your typical, if not ideal, masala film.”
The publication did, however, point out that the movie had certain problems. It had all the splendor of a Karan Johar film, which we’d been missing for a while, but it also has its share of problems. They wrote, “RARKPK is the stereotyped representation of Punjabis as noisy and uncivil individuals. Bengalis as extremely educated and supremely clever.” Come on, it’s so depressing to see Bollywood repeating the same old formulas. In traditional Punjabi homes, the women do not wear dupattas over their hair. When audiences have long criticized Bollywood for sexualizing its female characters. Why do they suddenly find it acceptable to objectify the film’s hero?
The performance may have been subpar, but the story was not. The roles that Ranveer and Alia play as Rocky and Rani, respectively, have “owned” the picture and “are a great distraction from its flaws,” as stated by ETimes.
Ranveer was dubbed a “firecracker” by PinkVilla, who also remarked, “He’s living the character; that’s very close to his real self.” It’s a showy, flamboyant figure that could have bombed, but his magnetic presence keeps things steady.
According to the article, Alia is the “perfect” companion for him. From the opening scene to the closing credits, Alia Bhatt’s presence on screen saves Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani from oblivion. She excels in a part that allows her to show a range of feelings, from bravery to vulnerability to humor. The film’s uninteresting sections are saved by the actors’ excellent performances, they said.
Although both actors were excellent in their roles, critics for the Hindustan Times, Indian Express. Film Companion, and ETimes said the pair didn’t have the “dreamy Bollywood chemistry.”