Rock On – a city musician’s perspective

A rock journalist and bass guitarist walks out with mixed feelings on watching the latest Bollywood blockbuster, and tells us why.

Rock On is quite unlike any other movie that the Bollywood factory has churned out. It is the first Hindi movie that deals with rock music as its central theme, and is refreshingly different from most of the standard fare that we, as cinema-goers, have been subjected to.

While the public in general seems to have been greatly appreciative of the movie, as box-office records would illustrate, I had mixed feelings about it once I walked out of the multiplex and walked back into reality, where rock bands were struggling to make it big, despite the odds being stacked heavily against them.

Rock On had many good things in its favour, while there were certain other aspects of the movie that, as a rock journalist as well as a musician, I found discrepancies with.

On the plus side…

Rock on Film

The film did not portray rock musicians as delinquent elements of society, but as normal, regular individuals with a passion for making music. It is a common misconception in our society to incorrectly associate most rock musicians with alcoholism, wanton promiscuity and drug abuse, and the movie has not portrayed the band members of ‘Magik’ in this light. This is a significant positive about the movie, considering how mainstream cinema can go a long way in forming or altering societal perceptions about certain issues.

Most rock musicians tend to write their own lyrics, compose their own music and spend hours together in painstaking practice to perform it live when given a chance. In this regard, Farhan Akhtar’s achievements in singing his own songs and playing the guitar to accompany them were highly praiseworthy.

On the other hand…

However, one could tell that the other three characters played respectively by Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny and Purab Kohli couldn’t play their respective instruments and were merely pretending to do so, albeit somewhat convincingly, thanks to some expert choreography.

For ‘struggling’ musicians aspiring to make it big and land a contract with a major record label, the band certainly seemed to possess high-end instruments and sound equipment in abundant supply. The average aspiring guitarist can only dream of playing with Ibanez JE7MV Steve Vai Signature electric guitars, or Gibson Les Paul black beauty guitars, the likes of which the members of ‘Magik’ seemed to have easy access to.

In addition, most musicians don’t have a huge practice pad at their disposal, like the members of ‘Magik’ did. Most bands tend to practice in small rooms, ever-mindful of noise levels, with the omnipresent threat of complaining neighbours placing bands in precarious situations, not unlike that faced by a certain Damocles in the court of Dionysius.

The lyrics for most of the songs that were part of the movie aren’t the conventional kind that most rock bands would tend to come up with. Rock music is primarily characterised by aggression and rebellion, and it’s quite unlikely that any self-respecting rock band in the present day and age would want to come up with songs like ‘Sinbad the Sailor’ and raise questions that most third grade students would be asking their teacher (Socha Hai). However, the music more than made up for the lyrical inadequacies, with its infectious grooves and melodies.

In reality…

In our band, Arth (http://arthband.blogspot.com), I play the bass guitar. Even if you discount my affinity for said instrument, I feel that it is important for a rock band to have the bass guitar in order to sound complete. It was particularly strange that the band in the movie seemed to take bass for granted, despite there being significant bass lines for each song in the movie, with the issue about a missing bass player being brushed under the carpet hurriedly when someone mentions in passing that Rob, played by Luke Kenny, programmes the bass parts with his keyboard.

There have been very few bands in history that have done without a bass guitarist, The Doors being the most notable example. Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that Ray Manzarek still had to play the bass parts with his left hand on the keyboard, and the band employed sessions’ bassists when they recorded songs in the studio.

Though Rock On was not in the same league in terms of authenticity as some of its other Hollywood musical counterparts such as Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg or the highly popular That Thing You Do, it has firmly established the fact that rock music no longer remains a niche genre, and with increasing popular acceptance, is here to stay for good.

Comments:

  1. Charumathi Supraja says:

    Nice, from-the-heart piece! Been wanting to watch this movie. Will also look out for the music of ‘Arth.’

  2. raj chandra.r says:

    But with the Commissioner of Police wielding his stick, it is hard on the Artists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Addressing pet dog attacks: A balance between regulation and compassion

Government intervention is necessary to prevent indiscriminate breeding and trade of pet dogs, and more shelters are needed for abandoned pets.

Recently, two pet Rottweiler dogs attacked a five-year-old child and her mother in a  Corporation park in Nungambakkam, Chennai. Based on a complaint following the incident, police arrested the owners of the dog for negligence and endangering the lives of others (IPC Section 289 and 336). As General Manager-Administration of the Blue Cross of India, I have seen several Rottweilers over the years. While there are laws to address such situations, there needs to be adequate awareness among pet owners that dogs like Rottweilers should be taken for a walk only on a leash. A major portion of the responsibility…

Similar Story

Bardhaman town’s tourism potential: Why it must be developed

West Bengal's Bardhaman town has immense tourism potential. Its development must prioritise sustainable tourism and civic development.

Bardhaman town, renowned for its Bengali sweets like mihidana and sitabhog, is also famous for its rich tapestry of folk culture and heritage sites. The town has immense potential for tourism. But the question arises, how much of it has been explored?   This article aims to shed light on Bardhaman's historical sites, the initiatives to promote tourism while addressing the civic issues hindering its progress, and highlight the need to balance tourism with sustainable development.  Heritage sites of Bardhaman Sher Afghan’s tomb  Located beside Pir Beharam, close to Rajbati, lies the  tomb of Sher Afghan, the resting place of the last…