Tag Archives: Jaya Bachchan

Movie Review: Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is an overwhelming sensory experience. Every frame is full of vibrant colors, dynamic visuals, and stirring music. A packed movie theater provides the ideal immersive experience for this kind of film. However, watching at home — as I did on a TV screen with an audience of two — it’s harder to ignore the things about Rocky Aur Rani that don’t work.

The performances by the all-star cast are firmly in the category of Things That Work. Ranveer Singh plays the titular Rocky, heir to a sweets company established by his stern grandmother Dhanalaxmi Randhawa (Jaya Bachchan) and run by his equally stern father Tijori (Aamir Bashir). Rocky is nothing like his buttoned-up progenitors, as in he prefers to wear his garishly patterned shirts mostly unbuttoned. He speaks mangled English as he drives around in his expensive sports cars.

Rocky dotes on his grandfather Kanwal (Dharmendra), who suffers from mobility and memory issues. When grandpa utters the name “Jamini” and points to a torn old photo of a woman, Rocky sets out to find her.

Jamini (Shabana Azmi) turns out to be a former flame Kanwal met at a poetry conference, after he was already married to Dhanalaxmi. Rocky meets Jamini’s granddaughter Rani (Alia Bhatt) — a quick-witted TV news anchor — who helps reunite the former lovers on the sly. Coordinating secret meetings between the older couple sparks romance between the younger couple, despite some big differences between them. Rani is as educated and driven as Rocky is not, but ultimately hotness trumps all.

As with every Karan Johar-directed picture, it’s all about loving your family, so Rocky and Rani agree to spend three months (!!!) living with their respective future-in-laws to see if the two clans can co-exist. (Apparently, the love affair between Rocky’s grandpa and Rani’s grandma is not a deal breaker.) Rocky moves in with Rani’s cultured, liberal Bengali family and is immediately clowned upon, and granny Dhanalaxmi freezes out Rani. Things look bleak for our sexy heroes.

The drama, laughs, and heartache in Rocky Aur Rani are punctuated with some grand and truly memorable musical numbers, like the catchy “What Jhumka?” and the visually stunning celebration “Dhindhora Baje Re.” In a funny twist, the only time Rocky ever dresses in a sophisticated manner is during the song “Tum Kya Mile,” when he’s a figment of Rani’s imagination while she’s on a work trip in Kashmir.

The performances overall are charming, with Bhatt again showing that she’s at the top of her game as Rani. Singh is careful to make Rocky a goofball but not an irritant, and it’s always clear that there’s a real person inside the flashy attire. Bachchan also makes the most of her role as mean grandma.

That leads to one of the things that didn’t work for me about Rocky Aur Rani. I’m not sure how an unsophisticated guy like Rocky comes from the family he does. Knowing that he will one day take over the family business, wouldn’t his dad and grandma have sent him overseas to get an MBA and made sure he behaved with perfect decorum? Other than shaming him for his love of dancing, they don’t seem to care what he does. Rocky and his family feel like they belong in two different movies.

I also struggled to nail down the movie’s moral point of view. Rocky Aur Rani makes no secret of when it’s moralizing, with poignant music cueing the audience to pay attention to the meaningful bits. But some of the messages come from strange angles, such as when Rani’s mom Anjali (Churni Ganguly) makes Rocky wear a bra in public in order to teach him gender equality. I have doubts about the lingerie store’s employees participating in an act deliberately meant to humiliate a patron.

Then there’s Rocky’s speech about making socially regressive missteps because he wasn’t taught not to. Singh’s delivery is heartfelt, but it’s strange to hear Rocky ask for leniency because he didn’t know it was rude to make fun of people for their skin color or weight. The whole thing feels like a aging white male standup comic in America lamenting that “you can’t say anything anymore” before ranting about “snowflakes.”

To reiterate what I stated at the start of this review, I think these plot issues may be less glaring when one is watching Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani in a theater on a giant screen with surround sound. Unfortunately, now that its theatrical run is over, the inconsistencies are more apparent.


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Movie Review: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001)

KabhiKhushiKabhiGham3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (“Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness“) may not be the best movie ever, but it certainly is the most movie ever. Those able to embrace the film’s excesses are rewarded with non-stop entertainment.

From the outset, K3G (the film’s popular nickname) establishes familial love as its theme. The movie opens with a wealthy man, Yash Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan), talking about the particular affection a father feels for his child. Yash’s wife, Nandini (Jaya Bachchan), stresses the unconditional nature of motherly love. They smile as they talk about their pride and joy: their son, Rahul (Shahrukh Khan). Cut to a portrait of the happy family.

Wait, who’s that other kid in the picture? The one they didn’t bother to mention? It’s their younger son, Rohan, who is a complete afterthought in his parents’ eyes.

Yash and Nandini adopted Rahul as a baby, after having trouble conceiving. When Nandini unexpectedly became pregnant with Rohan nine years later, they continued to focus all of their parental affection on Rahul, leaving young Rohan to make due with hugs from the Raichand family maid, Daijan (Farida Jalal).

Yet when Rahul is disowned for falling for a working-class gal named Anjali (Kajol), it falls on poor Rohan to try to reunite his family. He does so willingly, despite being the acknowledged second-favorite of his parents’ two kids.

Fortunately, the years spent carrying that chip on his shoulder have molded adult Rohan into an Adonis, played by Hrithik Roshan. He takes his prep school education and sleeveless shirts and heads to England to find his estranged brother.

Rohan’s quest is aided by his former childhood nemesis: Anjali’s younger sister, Pooja (Kareena Kapoor). The minute grown up Pooja is introduced, everyone else in K3G ceases to matter, because Kapoor’s fabulousness outshines them all.

Adult Pooja is the queen bee of her college, sneering at the girls and smugly brushing off the boys she deems too lowly for her to date. She’s so damned popular that she can go by the nickname “Poo” without people laughing in her face. Her wardrobe is made up exclusively of hotpants, fur shrugs, and tops that are basically a cocktail napkin held in place by a shoelace.

It cannot be overstated how amazing Poo is. Everything she does is over the top. No character has every been as bratty yet lovable. Kapoor commits to Poo’s outrageousness, and the results are hilarious.

London is where the character relationships in K3G are at their best. Shahrukh and Kajol are even more charming as a married couple then they are in the early stages of Rahul and Anjali’s relationship. Rahul and Poo banter sweetly as he acts as her protective older brother. Poo’s romantic advances toward Rohan are as funny as his rebuffs.

There are a couple of negative aspects to K3G. First is the incessant fat-shaming of young Rohan (Kavish Majmudar). Young Rahul (played by Shahrukh Khan’s son, Aryan) calls his little brother “fat” in every conversation he has with Rohan as a boy. Other members of the household join in, too, as do young Pooja and her pint-sized cronies. When adult Rahul realizes that the hunky guy who’s been living with him under false pretenses is his long-lost brother, the first thing he asks Rohan is how he lost so much weight.

Then there’s the creepy relationship between patriarch Yash and Naina (Rani Mukerji), the woman he’s chosen for Rahul to marry. Naina is all kinds of fabulous, in her sparkly backless dresses and midriff-baring tops. Yash is way too touchy-feely with Naina, and she only makes it worse by singing a sultry, Marilyn Monroe-style rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her would-be father-in-law.

Yet all can be forgiven thanks to the movie’s endearing absurdity, including a song that features Shahrukh dancing in front of the pyramids while sporting see-though shirts, and then pawing at Kajol while wearing various all-leather outfits. When characters aren’t celebrating, they are crying. There is so much celebrating, so much crying, and you just have to roll with the whole experience. Keep that mindset throughout Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… and you are guaranteed a great time.


  • Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… at Wikipedia
  • Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… at IMDb