As the fourth film in the U-M Center for South Asia Studies South Asian Film Series, CSAS will be screening last year’s Hindi megahit, Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2024, at 7:00 pm at the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. The screening is free and open to the public; dessert will be served during intermission.

Rocky Aur Rani boasts plenty of star power with Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Jaya Bachan, Dharmendra, and Shabana Azmi, among others, and was a top movie of 2023, earning close to 3.6 billion INR (equivalent to almost $43 million). 

With the film hailed as both a critical and commercial success, its hit-maker director, Karan Johar, a star in his own right, still had much to contend with with his latest film. Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani opened on July 28 after the twin releases of Barbie and Oppenheimer in India.

“The ‘Barbenheimer’ hype was real. Both were tremendously loved and appreciated, and I was really nervous because we were coming in the midst of a storm. I’m like, ‘It all is too much.’ But I’m glad we could shine even though there was a storm,” Johar told Variety last August.

Screening Rocky Aur Rani on Valentine’s Day seemed perfect for CSAS South Asian film series curator, filmmaker, and U-M professor Veerendra Prasad

“Valentine’s Day provided a perfect excuse to show a big-budget romantic comedy,” says Prasad. “I see the film series as an entry point for film lovers who are interested in South Asian cinema but just don’t know where to start. And that means commercial films just as much as independent films. 

“While Rocky and Rani was a big hit in India and the diaspora, I suspect it will be new for many people. Those with a casual knowledge of Indian cinema immediately think of song and dance numbers. And while there’s more to it than that, some of those sequences are truly cinematic. And Rocky and Rani has some great ones that need to be seen on a big screen.”

In the movie, Rocky and Rani fall in love despite their differences. After facing family opposition, they decide to live with each other's families for three months before getting married, highlighting many issues within the families and in Indian society. 

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani is fascinating in its attempts to address the clash between progressiveness and tradition, resulting in all sorts of unlikely dramatic conflicts – such as Rocky speaking out against cancel culture or being upbraided by Rani’s mother for his embarrassment while shopping for bras,” says The Guardian in its review of the movie last July. “Countless hysterical showdowns later, it all ends in a flurry of rose petals and a finale that out-pinks Barbie.”

For more information about the film’s screening, please visit the CSAS website. Free tickets are available on the Michigan Theater’s website, and the trailer is available on YouTube