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Rock On

Director Abhishek Kapoor and producer Farhan Akhtar have pulled out all stops to make Rock On!! look genuine and sound authentic

Bobin James Sep 14, 2008
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Harsh Man Rai

The script interested Farhan enough for him to decide to produce it ”“ “even if the whole acting, singing thing didn’t work out, I wanted to be part of this project” – along with his partner at Excel, Ritesh Sidhwani. And along with them also came their favourite music directors ”“ Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa. They were the “obvious choice” according to Kapoor because they work together more as a band than music directors. “They work as a team, so that team element when you are working as a band comes in. At some level three people working together to make music is a band. And they had worked with Farhan on all his earlier films,” Kapoor says. The music directors also approached the movie from a rock band perspective. Says Loy, “We were not writing from the typical Bollywood perspective and format that is normally used in the industry. The premise of this film was completely different. The influences and sensibilities of rock music are very prominent in the music.”

Trooping into the project soon afterwards were supermodel-turned-actor Arjun Rampal, and veejay-turned-actors Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli, to complete a quartet of musicians who make the band which is called Magik. Aditya Shroff (Farhan), Joe Mascarenhas (Arjun), Rob Nancy (Luke) and Kedar Zaveri (Purab) are four guys who get together to create rock music, in a time and place where original music of their chosen kind doesn’t get an easy foothold. Magik is at the brink of making it really big, but circumstances don’t let them take that last big step. The band falls apart and they go their separate ways. Cut to ten years later where they get another chance to live their dreams. In keeping with Kapoor’s efforts to get everything to look authentic, each actor was required to learn to play the instrument he plays on screen. So Arjun recruited Chandresh Kudwa, guitarist with Mumbai rock band Dream Out Loud to teach him the basics. Purab learnt his grooves from Lindsay D’Mello, one of the best jazz drummers in the country. And Luke Kenny, who in his own words, used to be the “lead vocalist and poser/posturer” in a band back in his college days, learnt to tinkle the keys from Jarvis Menezes, a jazz pianist who often plays with D’Mello. Even the man responsible for the film’s slick look, director of photography Jason West, is a drummer.

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For the actors, though, Rock On!! was more than a rock band movie. “When I first read the script, what grabbed my interest was that this was more than just about a band. There was an emotional part to the story, to the level of friendships,” says Arjun. Perhaps it’s this story of friendship that’s led a lot of people into believing that what they are going to see is a sequel to Dil Chahta Hai. The fact that it is produced by the same bunch of people only adds fuel to the fire. But Kapoor is quick to refute this: “This is Rock On!! I am nobody to make Dil Chahta Hai II”¦ I am making my own film.” The writer-director of DCH, Farhan Akhtar, though, believes the two movies do share some sort of a sensibility: “They are completely different stories, with different characters, but there is something”¦ I don’t know how to describe it”¦ a common seed from which both Dil Chahta Hai and Rock On!! have sprung.” So what you have is a very slick-looking movie targeted at youngsters in the metro cities. Kapoor admits this movie is for the “A centres”. “In the B and C centres, it’s not the content that will be alien, but the treatment,” he says.

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The music, with its heavy emphasis on guitar, is also targeted at a similar audience. Axe-collector Ehsaan (at last count he had some 23) draws on his passion for rock and blues and delivers some great guitar pieces that could easily occupy space on non-Bollywood rock albums. “It’s all guitar-centric,” he says. “It all starts with the guitar riff in typical rock style”¦ you come up with a riff and compose around it. Rock is all about the riff.”

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