Written by Manisha Lakhe
Yet Another ‘Rock Band’ Underdog Film. Dullsville.
Undertrials are brought together by the jailer for a musical performance for the Independence Day program. The band brings the house down and become a social media rage (yes, it happens in the movies!). The minister wants to use them for his political propaganda for the elections and the jailer makes sure they don’t get out of jail. The band makes a daring escape and yes, there’s a ghastly but predictable Rock Band competition. Not just the band but every character is caricaturish, and the songs are soulless.
Such a surprise to see Yash Raj Films and Habib Faisal make something so terribly amateurish, you wonder where the logic has gone? Not a single film where young people form a ‘Rock Band’ and enter a competition as underdogs and win has made a single ripple in Bollywood. Not even a sequel to Rock On the film worked. But studios seem to want to introduce young talent as ‘rock stars’. If only these films came with songs that the audience really cares for, this review would be different.
So let’s meet the band: Sanju (played by the brand new Yash Raj face, Adar Jain) is a cocky, undertrial and his catch a rat stunt is supposed to enamor us to him. Not.
Maskeen is a Sardar undertrial, who can play the keyboards and guitar.
Ogu is a Nigerian undertrial (the filmmakers make him rap, assuming all Black people know how to! Ugh!)
Rufi is a B-Tech, MBA undertrial, who writes the songs for the band.
Bindu is undertrial (she was employed at a home to look after a six year old and the dad of the the child tries to rape her), so are Tatiyana (Ukranian girl, who came to India to act in Bollywood films) and Cyndy (gal from Nagaland, whose real name, ‘Sange’ gets used when the Jailer explains that she has been transferred to another jail).
Using the word ‘Undertrials’ is grating, right? But the filmmakers don’t get it! It is explained and explained until you hope something else will soon happen. It does. Every undertrial seems to be either innocent or have a sob story that goes with the guilt. You begin to want to run out of the theatre into promised freedom, but you watch the band dance and sing ‘I am India’ and you cringe how Bollywood has not stopped copying an old musical show called Stomp.
The sob story saga of the inmates continues. The cops find weirder and odder ways to be mean to them. Of course the justice system is slow and that means no justice. The preaching is never ending too. Meanwhile you realise that the only person who is actually trying hard to keep the whole film together is the heroine, Bindu (played in all earnestness by Anya Singh, who looks more like the girl next door than the heroine).
And yes. Bollywood’s obsession with and underdog ‘Rock band’ becoming an Internet sensation just does not get over. It does not happen, not really. If only the filmmakers see how the audience scoffs at YouTube views counter running amok or comments that explain that the band is a sensation they would stop making such silly assumptions or tell the audience how social media works…
Of course the band members (except the hero and heroine) are caught after they make a daring escape, they sing some more, they are tortured some more and you begin to check messages on the phone. The end is so illogical you wish you had watched their longest running movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge instead.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)