Sep 3, 2011

Bombay Beloved: Rock On! (2008)

Film Making is an exciting process. Perhaps, no other work engulfs you to an extent that you yourself become its embodiment. While making a film, you become its characters, its songs, situations and even its success/ failure. There are some stand out examples of such devoted film-makers, actors, musicians and other technicians who give their soul and heart to the process of film-making. For them, films are not just their source of livelihood or even a medium to express their creativity, but also a way of life.

First Impression:

When we look at the young generation of filmmakers, Farhan Akhtar is one such shining example. However, in 2008, when he decided to take a plunge into acting and singing, I was little skeptical. Being a conservative man, I have always vouched for 'specialists' and hence Akhtar's decision left doubts in my mind. Rock On!, the supposed launching pad of Farhan the Singer and Actor, was being directed by a little know Abhishek Kapoor, who had earlier delivered a dud like Aryan. All kinds of negative images were created in my mind regarding the film. I wanted a supremely talented director to stick to what he does best, direct films.

Even the music of Rock On! failed to make inroads in my thick skin. I am a very stubborn man when it comes to likes and dislikes. The idea of rocking on in Hindi seemed little alien to me. Javed Akhtar's lyrics failed to impress me first up. And then the film released. I went to watch it with a friend after lots of pursuance and insistence.

What I witnessed on screen during those 3 hours was awe-inspiring. Rock On! made one thing very clear from the onset. I did not need to be a rockstar to watch and enjoy the film. I did not require to have an understanding of Rock Music and bands to appreciate and indulge in the film. All I needed was to have a few good friends, some successes and failures and unfulfilled ambitions in my life to 'experience' Rock On!


Aditya Shroff (Farhan Akhtar) is the lead singer  of the band 'Magik' who belongs to an affluent family. Joseph (Joe) Mascarhenas (Arjun Rampal) is the lead guitarist, Rob Nancy (Luke Kenny) and Kedar Zaveri or KD/"Killer Drummer" (Purab Kohli) comprise the remainder of the band. As youngsters, they dream of making it big in Rock Music but end up messing it up when the opportunity actually arrives. A series of compromises, ego tussles and love-hate relationships finally leads to disbanding of the band Magik. Worse, the four protaganists cease to be friends and drag themselves into cocoons of life, doing things that did not excite them.

Ten years later, coincidences and Aditya's Wife Sakshi's (Prachi Desai) efforts bring them together. Joe is now married to her girlfriend Debbie (Shahana Goswami) and is in poor financial condition. Magik regroups to recreate magic one last time. Friendship, love and ambition triumph over ego, hatred and obstacles.

Performances/ Why the Film Works?

Rock On! pegs you to dream big. It teaches you to value your relationships and never hesitate to pursue your goals. The film's high point lies in the simplicity with which it conveys a bag of complex emotions. Farhan Akhtar makes a fascinating debut and his voice emerges as his biggest strength. Arjun Rampal, finally, comes of age, and infuses life into the character of an insecure, struggling musician who wants to reach to stars someday. Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli play their part well and the four members of the band bond like house on fire. The ladies, Prachi Desai and specially Shahana Goswami, are not mere showpieces and are inseparable part of film's storyline. Abhishek Kapoor, the director, makes a massive mark with Rock On. This film makes Excel Entertainment's slate even more brighter.

Kudos S-E-L and Javed Saab!

With time, I developed a strong liking for the film's music. 'Tum Ho Toh' is melancholy and jubilation personified. 'Sinbbad the Sailor' is a landmark Hindi Rock Song. The title song and Pichhle Saat Dino Mein are superbly composed (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) and written (Javed Akhtar). Rock On has an ultimate soundtrack that every music lover should have. And I have no hesitation in admitting that my initial judgement of the soundtrack was, well, faulty. (To say the least).

Why a 'Bombay Beloved?'

Rock On! symbolized Hindi cinema's coming of age, in many ways. It showed that buddy flicks need not always revolve around girls, romance and love, and a film based on Rock music can work with Indian masses. The main reason why Rock On worked, both with the critics and at the Box Office, was because it had its heart in place. Joe Mascarhenas did not just play with strings of the guitar but also hit a chord or two of the viewers' hearts. Aditya's vocals give you goosebumps, the band's camaraderie makes you smile. You relate with film's characters, their fights, the situations and wish to have that final swansong in your life too.

Rock On! is an honest film that does extraordinary things to you while telling an ordinary story. The culminating song (the last performance of the band) made me shiver and left my eyes wet. I am sure most of us have already watched it. If you have not, watch it as soon as possible. This is somewhere near to New Age Hindi Cinema's Pinnacle.

Bombay Beloved series will feature Hindi films that have offered something new to the viewers, set a new trend in the industry and have certain repeat value.


  1. Honestly, I watched Rock On! after 3 years of its release.But after seeing it, I now regret that it should have been watched by me at the time it was released.Anyways,it is a perfect debut by your series. May your Out of the Blue churn more superhit series.

  2. One word. SUPERB!

    Interesting way to analyze coming of movies! Aye, liked it :)

  3. Thank You Aryan. Yes, you should have watched it first up. But its never too late..I am glad u liked the film as well as the post. :)

  4. Thanks for the correction 'Lebnox' :)

  5. The fondest memory with this film is of the trip we all went to. Jaisalmer , if u remember at nights on that shitty hotel during dinner we used to group together and sing the rock on songs aloud as if we are having a rock concert just to make the nights little eventful! what fun it was, remembering it brings smiles and tears.

  6. Awww..Anubha, It was an amazing trip..Wish we could time travel :))

  7. one can only wish ashish ... but we can make sure that ur trip to mumbai is memorable !!

  8. Yo Babes! Looking forward to it...BADLY :D!

  9. woOw.. solid tribute, finely explained (in fact graciously written)...glad i happened to see this another ways would have missed a interesting insight.. is this some series kinds thing

  10. Thank You. :) Yeah, Next Up should be Swades.