White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Hindi Movie Review: Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani soars on infectious characters, sputters on sloppy politics

Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh star in Karan Johar's "Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani."

There is such an intoxicating energy to the first half – and especially the first third – of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (in English, “Rocky and Rani’s Love Story”) that it’s damn near impossible to resist in the early going. Telling an age-old story of opposites attracting with goofy aplomb, this latest directorial effort from megaproducer Karan Johar feels like a Bollywood-infused throwback to the golden era of early-2000s Hollywood rom-coms. With a seemingly effortless, high-energy style and two irresistibly charismatic lead performances by Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, the film flies by until the intermission point.

Only at the movies are we willing to suspend disbelief to the extent that we buy into a romance between characters as seemingly mismatched as Singh’s Rocky and Bhatt’s Rani, but there’s something distinctly pleasurable about believing that such a pairing could actually happen. Or really, that these leads – so endearing but also so fabricated – could exist in the natural world. We meet the two characters in introductions so cheesy-delicious, they could sell them at Little Caesars. Rocky, an intellectually vacant but well-meaning Punjabi heir to a packaged laddoo fortune, romps around a club with a shirt that seemingly won’t button, while women of all ages drool at his feet. Rani, a bohemian-raised Bengali television journalist, takes down a chauvinist politician in an on-air interview that would have never been consented to in reality.

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