Time has not been that kind to all the remaining members of rock band Magik. Adi (Farhan Akhtar) is living a reclusive life in Meghalaya, KD (Purab Kohli) is a talent scout for new bands and singers and Joe (Arjun Rampal) is a successful reality TV judge and music club owner.
Following the rocketing success of Magik, the band sets up a label for new talent but arrogance creeps in and their constant snubbing of an aspiring singer drives him to suicide. Adi blames himself for the tragedy and leaving his wife Sakshi (Prachi Desai) and son behind in Mumbai he lives an agrarian life in Meghalaya, occasionally writing songs in his diary, but mostly struggling with his guilt.
In a dingy house somewhere a celebrated but brooding music Pandit rejects the approach of an enthusiastic student of music just because he plays a particular raag. Aspiring musician Uday (Shashank Arora, a very nice addition to the plot) and Pandit’s (Kumud Mishra) daughter Jiah (Shraddha Kapoor) strike up a friendship and share their music. The collaboration earns them an audition at Joe’s club.
Many things happen in between, and all the events are narrated with painstaking detail by KD’s voiceover. It’s a device that doesn’t achieve much, because the story still seems laboured. What worked in “Rock On!!” to was the camaraderie and easy banter between the boys (which is mostly intact), the hummable soundtrack and the novel experience of a hero singing his own songs. It worked for an amateur band, but as a now famous and professional set up, the male lead voice (Akhtar) grates on the ears. For the most part, Shraddha Kapoor’s singing is impressive and the stage work by all the band members is easygoing. But none of the songs (Shankar-Hessian-Loy) lingers, one of the biggest flaws in a music based film.
Director Shujaat Saudagar hits his stride post interval when the film finally comes together and ends with a flash of “Rock On!!” magic – an elaborate live music concert where a newly expanded Magik performs for the first time. The other two interestingly picturised songs are ‘You Know What I Mean’ and Usha Uthup performing with the Summersalt Band.
“Rock On!!” was a coming of age story that had a dollop of mischief and youthfulness. “Rock On 2” (written by Pubali Chaudhari and Abhishek Kapoor) is burdened by world-weariness and a need to deliver a social message — helpless villagers, corrupt bureaucrats, burly goons et al. There’s also a comment on the music industry, talent (illustrated via one of the nicer characters called Manjot, or MJ) reality TV, purists versus fusion musicians etc.
It’s hard to imagine what could happen to this almost middle-aged band should there be a Rock On 3. Perhaps Magik will need to learn a few new tricks and find a new band members to accompany Arora’s Uday and Kapoor’s Jiah.