Rock On poster

Rock On

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

Who hasn’t had a row with a friend? Time to make that call and hug the friend you didn’t patch-up with ages ago. That’s the warmth you feel while watching Rock On!!. In the end, you connect and that’s what counts!

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Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Running time: 145 minutes
Genres: Relationships
More Movie Info

It’s youthful yet elegant. It’s contemporary yet identifiable with, by anyone who’s had a tiff with a close one. Yes, the layers of love for rock music and issues related to urban life need to be peeled off. But at the core it’s a very simple story told with compassion and sophistication.

That doesn’t mean all your questions are answered. The details of the main conflict are left to your imagination. But, the manner in which you are drawn into the story shows that smart people have been involved in its making. So, I submitted myself, albeit grudgingly, to the fact that their heart was in bringing us the resolution and not the clash. I’d suggest you do the same.

Whenever I complain about a cliché or predictability in movies/stories, I question myself, is it such a bad thing? How could they have avoided it in this situation? But, I end up with just one answer - it depends on how it is done. Is it natural, does it flow? Is the nature and flow convincing? The obvious call of events in Rock on!! worked for me because I found myself getting attached to the characters and their relatively ordinary lives. (Even though the characters were being followed by spotlights on half their faces!)

Each character in the foursome is representative of the kind of people any group of friends has. The idealist whose self-respect does not resign to compromise (Arjun Rampal), the slightly self-centered one who can’t see when he falters (Farhan Akhtar), the easy-go-lucky-cum-jackass who doesn’t let anything bother him too much (Purab Kohli) and the one who’s more emotionally attached to the ‘group’ sentiment than the rest (Luke Kenny).

The slight shiver in Farhan’s hands when confronted by his past, made me gape in awe of not just the actor but also the director, Abhishek Kapoor. Unbelievable that the man’s last effort was the appalling Aryan. Same goes for Arjun who looked like he was holding back the dialogues to keep his moustache from falling. Even so, I found myself cheering for him when he came to take his final bow. Purab and Luke too didn’t necessarily have the greatest body language yet, you felt bad for how things were shaping up for them when the going was tough.

With male-bonding as the central theme, it’s refreshing to see women with well thought out characters who influence the direction of the story. Prachi Desai is the strong yet vulnerable Sakshi. You feel like shaking her man to consciousness when he’s ignoring her despite the anxiety her eyes convey. You sympathize with Debbie’s frustration which Shahana Goswami so strongly brings across.

We see ourselves getting pulled into the narrative because the writer, Abhishek Kapoor, has given each of these characters detailed attention. Together, they mature smoothly from adolescent “we can conquer the world” enthusiasm to learning to live life the hard way. And yet, even the two less important roles (Purab and Luke) have defining qualities and are not restricted to being the protagonists’ “inner voice”. Moreover, this is all done in good humor.

Writer, Abhishek has also shown some imaginative strokes. The onscreen performances of the actors mirror the status of their characters in the band throughout the movie. Almost as if the rock band’s chemistry is shared by the four actors. Also, despite parallel narration of two time-spans, very rarely does any event seem out of place.
A plausible complaint could be made against the run-time and pace of the movie. I would argue that any tampering with that would take away from the poise and charm of the experience.


Note on music: My exposure to rock music is negligible. I was recently educated by a rock-enthusiast that lyrics are very plain and factual in rock music. The focus is on the music. This conversation obviously came about when I was complaining about the lyrics of Rock On!! while appreciating how different the music was.

I’m still not convinced the lyrics should be highlighted by loud and clear pronunciation, if they are not the focus, especially when they are more or less lame.
“aasmaan kyon neela, paani kyon geela geela” would sound great in a kids’ song like “bum bum bhole“, but didn’t work for me here. (Why’s the sky blue, and water all wet? It’d have been alright if the lines at the very least sounded poetic like “Why’s the sky blue, and the water full of dew?”) Songs from “Zindaggi Rocks” had awesome lyrics; does that not qualify as rock, then?

Anyway, I’m going to buy the CD for the music to grow on me. Oh yeah, do stick around till the last title card shows up.

- meeta, a part of the audience

31 reviewers(?) - 26 yays 5 so-so 0 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Nita, A Wide Angle View of India : ...Arjun Rampal as Joe looks perfect for his role and acted well too.... full review

Thumbs up, by N K Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ...The sense of emptiness is intelligently highlighted by the contrasting flashbacks of their juvenile past... full review

Thumbs up, by Prathna Tiwari, Bolly Spice : ...This piece of cinema contains beauty in many forms and one is that despite having an unconventional script, it doesn't require extra intelligence for understanding... full review

Thumbs up, by Daliya Daspurkayastha, Business of Cinema : ...lthough the film drags too longer at times, it does not get into your nerves. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Chandrima Pal, Buzz18 : ...Rock On will go down in Bollywood history as the closest we have ever come to capturing the essence of rock music, and the artistic soul on screen... full review

Thumbs up, by Payal, DearCinema : ...Arjun Rampal has once again dazzled with his good looks.... full review

Thumbs up, Deccan Herald : ...Despite the obvious ending and things slowing down in the second half, the movie still holds one’s interest. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Aniruddha Guha, DNA : ...Rock On actually goes one up on its predecessor in looking at a more important facet of life, and for that story writer and director Abhishek Kapoor deserves credit.... full review

Thumbs up, by Samrat Sharma, : ...The plot in itself is very fat-free, and has nothing to offer the actors...This doesn't mean the boys aren't up to it, though. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, : ...The styling of clothes by Niharika Khan and of the sets are given a minute detailing.... full review

Thumbs up, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...And innagadda-da-vida can you call the Ehsaan-Shankar-Loy music ‘rock’?... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...Everything is in sync here, everything is just perfect. Flaws? Perhaps, the slow pacing. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Harshita Kohli, : ...Purab Kohli is another brilliant actor and his act is absolutely adorable... full review

Thumbs up, by Niharika Ghorpade, merinews : ...The music sets the film ablaze.... full review

Thumbs up, by Amit R Agarwal, merinews : ...Cinematography; amazingly stylish and enhances the mood of the movie... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...He establishes his characters very well, with the minimum of fuss.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now : ...For a film where wounded hearts bleed profusely, there's very little melodrama in the treatment.... full review

Thumbs up, by Jahan Bakshi, Now : ...The fun, madness and humour are almost completely missing, and that's where Rock On fails to do a Dil Chahta Hai. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Shayoni Mehta, Passion for Cinema : ...Listen to rock music, the beauty of it lies in simple poetry being emphasized by powerful music.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pratim D. Gupta, Passion for Cinema : ...All I can tell you is that Rock On!! is not about friendship — it’s there of course — but it’s about four individuals finding themselves.... full review

Thumbs up, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...Farhan Akhtar performs brilliantly as an actor but as a singer, he still needs to grip over the art... full review

Thumbs up, by Sumit Bhattacharya, Rediff : ...Real audiences don't react to songs they have not heard before the way they do in the movie. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...the film is super fun until the interval—after which it dives into familiar territory that you feared it would... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...Farhan Akhtar's vocals are absolutely fundoo, even as the foursome pitch in perfectly orchestrated performances... full review

Thumbs up, by Filmbear, Upper Stall : ...This is how concerts should be shot... full review

So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : begin to wonder if Akhtar (who produced the film) is some sort of compulsive compensator – for every step forward he takes our cinema, he just has to take one backwards.... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...writers stick to the safety of tried-and-tested formula instead of pushing the envelope.... full review

So-So, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...For once you don’t feel that songs are forced in a Bollywood film. ... full review

So-So, by Dazed&Confused, Passion for Cinema : ...Unfortunately, it is falls way short of being a great or even a very good one... full review

So-So, by Sayesha, Sayesha on the rocks : ...Sahana Goswami, who played Arjun Rampal's wife, was totally awesome.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 0 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

So-So, by Consumer Goods

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

A group of very closely-knit friends have a fallout because of misunderstanding. 10 years later, they try to patch up.

What Worked

  • Rob’s walk from darkness to light when his long last friend calls.
  • What the magik band does to raise some money for new equipment - HILARIOUS!
  • The sound design in the crowd scenes absolutely stood out. The cheering of the crowd felt like the theater audience was a part of the rock show audience.
  • The camerawork in the songs. Especially in the first Channel [V] competition.
  • The chemistry between Jo and Adi in the scene where they meet after 10 years. The hesitation, the awkwardness, the lack of eye contact.
  • Just the way Prachi looks at the camera, implies chemistry between her and Farhan Akhtar, even though Farhan is not on camera. Kudos to both Prachi and the director for creating such and effect
  • The way “ajeeb dastaan” is sung like a regular layperson would sing in a group of friends.
  • Use of split screen in the climax song.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • Purab Kohli’s artificial beard!
  • Arjun Rampal’s finger barely moving on the guitar, especially in the last concert. Similarly, Luke Kenny was just banging his fingers on the keyboard, didn’t look like he was playing it at all.


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.

  • Farhan Akhtar’s hairband completely rocked!! I’ve been looking for such a hairband for the longest time. Now thanks to his styler, it’ll be available at every nook and corner! Yay!!
  • Arjun Rampal’s flying locks!
  • How I wish realty show gave away their results as efficiently as shown here :)

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple fist fights.
  • Sexual content: A couple of tiny make-out scenes.
  • Concept: Friendship, bonding, forgiving and forgetting. While real little ones might not get it, a child above 10 might be able to grasp the concepts.
  • General Look and Feel: It doesn’t have bright color tones. But, the kids might enjoy the songs and the overall feel might be appealing.

Rock On - Cast, crew, links

Supporting Cast:
Costume Designer:
Art Direction:
Running time:
145 minutes

Comments (16)

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Rock On Review...

Who hasn't had a row with a friend? Time to make that call and hug the friend you didn’t patch-up with ages ago. That's the warmth you feel while watching Rock On!! In the end, you connect, and that's what counts!...

Rock on completely Rockssssssssssssssssssssssssss
after a long time beauty of direction with SEL Music with nice touch of Farhan Voice

this movie rocks guys
but only njoy at theather not at home with pirated movie

so spends some bucks and go nd get rock

Good luck Dear Arjun

Indulgent *** star rating aside, I still think it's so-so... didn't like it that much, too flat in too many places, and then there were those cliches. Ah. Another case of overrated hysteria for a film, a la TZP.

Thanks for stopping by Jahan. I usually try to rate it the way I feel while walking out of the theater. The attempt is to give most weightage to time spent in the hall, and this one I was engrossed all through. And same goes for TZP

Thats an interesting take. You're definitely a movie lover. Here's my take on the movie. regards.

Exactly- that's why I feel I got carried away by other reactions to the film. I was pretty bored through the first half, and though it turned out to be decent by the end, I wasn't exactly elated, which is perhaps the emotion I should have felt. Still, it's a good effort and has some good and subtle detailing, so, well...

Oh, is that so, Mayur? I guess people who liked the songs, were okay with lyrics too,

Hey cine freak!

Are you saying you liked Farhan's voice or not? If you think technology did wonders then that would mean you liked the voice only you think its been synthetically edited.

"just because you are bad musicians, does not mean you would be bad salesmen of jewellery or would not help your wife in the fish business!"

sure! but whether or not you are bad or good musicians, you could be bad jewellery salesmen and might not be passionate about selling fish.

No cine freak, wives do need more than a husband who's 'doing well'! Many of us do need a husband who connects, who talks, who tells us about his past and passions.

You are the second person who recommended "almost famous" to me. The other guy, though loved "Rock on!!" too. Anyway, surely goes on my 'to watch' list.

Hmmm...Cinefreak. To me the movie was certainly more about relationships rather than the music, let alone the rock scene in Bombay 10 years ago. There's hardly any mention of the technicalities. It might as well have been football, a theater group, or any other group passion.

Maybe I'm treading dangerous waters here, but Amadeus didn't get too technical on us either. It was a story that the makers thought we needed to watch. Granted, Rock on worked for some of us and didn't for others, which is true for any thing/person/issue that is judged, right?

@cinefreak - I concede on Amadeus. In general, I think two movies cannot be compared, even if they are remakes. Totally, my bad!

About relationships and characters in Rock On!!
Between Aditya and Sakshi - the strain in the relationship is obvious from their first scene together. They are superficially content. The housewife finds something amiss despite all the comforts being provided for. Aditya is not a fool, but he's in denial that the break-up of the band made him vulnerable enough to give up music.
How can someone give up something they are so passionate about? Like I mentioned, its not clarified here, and is dissatisfying. For some reason they denied us the conflict. To that a friend had a simple explanation. He said, to a man's ego, one slap is enough, that too coming from a close friend. I'm still not completely convinced.

The relationship between Aditya and Jo was glorified by actual words between KD and Rob. But, the subtleties were there too. The scene between Aditya and Jo when they reunite. The awkwardness melting with a hug. Good ol' times taking over the bad experiences.

The relationship between Jo and Debbie was the best. Jo's constant reluctance to Debbie's overbearing nagging but resistance to doing anything about it, because he knows she's right. Debbie feels bad for Jo, but has to do the right thing, what she thinks is good for the family.

There are many, many glitches here. But, when I get involved and want good things to happen between Aditya and Jo despite them being super-selfish, making me overlook all the flaws, the makers did something right.

I'm not defending the flaws, I'm saying the overall impact made me ignore them. Not necessarily a good thing, but if a movie sucks me in, I can't deny credit.

I completely understand why it didn't work for you. You are passionate about movies. You want the makers to think more than the rest of us. That can only be good for Hindi cinema. :) Us demanding more sense.

Me too, cine freak. I'm sure you've heard this concept of enjoying a movie despite realizing that they are not good. Enjoyment is something that you have no control over, or rather you shouldn't have control over. Acknowledging that what you've enjoyed is good cinema or not, however is something in your hands.

These things are obviously as subjective as it can get. I love the analysis done by David Bordwell on this subject -

Seriously, there must be one movie that you enjoyed but knew it had its share of flaws...which one was it?

"To me the irony of Rock on is that the message is about not compromising, but the film is exactly the opposite!"

lol! Have you considered writing reviews?

"The audience especially the multiplex audience is the worst in my opinion!"

Now, that's a bit too harsh. If it were not this audience, movies like Mithya, Bheja Fry, Summer 2007, Khuda Ke Liye, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. would not have happened. I hope you liked at least one of these to make sense of that sentence.

Oh come on! I'm sure there are popular movies that these people have seen and you haven't. As much as we would like people to "eat, drink, live cinema" they do have a life to live, right? Who's going to run our groceries, manage our banks, teach our children if we most of us watched all popular movies.

I agree people who tend to watch fewer movies tend to like whatever they see. But, that can hardly be held against them. In fact, its the film-makers burden to have the person who sees most movies like his/her work too.

Btw, I'm loving this interaction!

I meant enjoying the film, cinefreak not the environment. Anyway, I still don't feel you can name a particular type of cine-goer. Single screen theaters too, I'm pretty sure would've also had "kaantaa lagaaaaa" blasting from one corner during the most serene/serious cinematic moment. Do you visit single screens anymore?

Would Hazaro Khawaishein Aisi have run for more than that span if there were no multiplexes? In fact it released just after E-square opened and E-square was only the 3rd if not 2nd multiplex in town. So, the audience there might have been the single screen audience a couple of months ago. See, my point is that, the quality of cinema is more the onus of the filmmaker than the larger audience.

Yeah people like you and maybe me can raise our voices against the 'Om Shanti Om's and 'Baghban's

I'm not compromising, I'm saying I liked something despite its flaws. To trash the movie despite enjoying it and having been involved for most of the 150 minutes - that would be compromise.

Didn't understand your Pauline Kael statement. I have read only a few of her articles.

:) ok anshuman!

Thanks for your observations, Vivek.

hi strangers
i would like to say you friendly that this movie is realy great and shows how the friends together can fight all the storms and make all the dreams come true.
i mistakely came to watch this movie and still i am found watching it at home again and again...i warn you dont watch this fucking movie as you will be addictedt to watch it atleast once a day like me.............its the choice of all the is mine and hope that it will be yours

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