For a sequel, "Rock On 2" certainly took its time coming. More than eight years after Abhishek Kapoor made a fairly watchable film about four friends and their band, Shujaat Saudagar directs what seems like a watered down version of "Rock On".
Time has taken a toll on the musicians of Magik. KD (Purab Kohli) makes soul-crushing advertising jingles for a living. Joe (Arjun Rampal) judges mediocre singing contests and runs a club. A guilt-ridden Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) moves to Meghalaya after a young singer's tragic death. He runs a farm and a school, sports a beard and mopes around the place.
A chance meeting with Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) -- a tortured singer unable to emerge from the shadow of her musician father -- triggers love for music (and Magik) in Aditya, and he seems to find his voice again.
This seems like a straightforward story, but the problem is that it is a narrative that is even more insipid than Farhan Akhtar's singing. The characters seem to move in slow motion and react even slower, making the first movie seem like a masterpiece.
There are contrivances galore (Aditya and Jiah constantly find themselves in the same places, and poor villagers are brought in at the last stage of the movie just for the band to have a cause), and hardly a moment of sincerity in the 2-hour 20-minute film.
The other big problem is that for a film with music at its heart, the songs are mediocre at best. "Rock On" had hummable ditties like "Sinbad the Sailor" and "Tum Ho Toh" that stayed on in memory, but the sequel has no such songs (music is again by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy). To make it worse, every other character says, "That is brilliant music" or "Wow! You are good" every other minute, making it sound even more insincere.
Saudagar makes only a cursory attempt at exploring group dynamics, and in spite of India’s northeast having a strong rock and pop culture, makes absolutely no effort to include that in his narrative.
Of the cast, Farhan Akhtar has a constantly smug expression that makes it hard for him to emote, while Shraddha Kapoor has a wide-eyed look she can’t seem to wipe off. Rampal and Kohli seem to go through the motions.
You might be better off standing in a never-ending queue at a bank or ATM rather than watching this out-of-tune film.