Is India rocking on?

May 22nd, 2009 - 12:39 am ICT by Sampurn Wire  

Is India rocking on? ‘Rock on’ has been quite a path breaking film.

Its success had come as quite a pleasant surprise, especially in a nation where non filmi music didn’t ever have a recognized status.

The story of four friends reuniting and performing as a band was appreciated by critics and audiences alike.

It seemed that singer- producer- actor Farhan Akhtar and his fictional band members changed quite a few things in the country.

Otherwise the Bollywood presence is so all encompassing that music bands in India just have a niche market. So very unlike how it works for pop and rock music artists out of the country.

Concerts after that have come as a blessing for the bands.

One prominent one was when Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal and Ritesh Sidhwani got together on 31 October last year for the ‘Rock On For Humanity’ concert at the MMRDA Ground at Bandra-Kurla complex.

Farhan said that the idea was to raise money for medical assistance for Bihar flood victims. Though this concert had nothing to do with ‘Rock On’, the idea of a rock concert does have a bearing on the way the young responded to the film.

It turned out to be a gala rock event as 12 rock bands from all over the country like the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio featuring singers Kunal Ganjawala and Shaan, the Raghu Dixit Project, Something Relevant , Dream Out Loud, Them Clones, Shaai’r and Func, Kailasa, Rabbi, the Malayalam band Avial and Parikrama with whom Saif Ali Khan plays the guitar got a chance to get together.

There was more Bollywood presence too with Hrithik Roshan performing as well Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan coming on stage to address the crowds.

But as a whole this was a different event and not really like a true blue Bollywood one. It seemed a new era had heralded.

Ritesh Sidhwani explains, “‘Rock on’ didn’t really have rock music. It was more of new age melody. If you listen to hard rock like Deff Lepard, Mettalica, you know rock music is totally different. I would call it a new age sound.”

But he feels that the impact on the bands has been pretty positive.

He adds, “Yeah, the bands did get a new lease of life in the process. We had actual bands, and the likes of Monica and Randolp to perform. There were real bands from Bangalore, Delhi, Calcutta for the ‘Rock on for Humanity’ along with our fictitious band. So we gave them a kind of platform. Even the title of the film helped. So it’s path breaking in a big way.”

Luke Kenny who starred in the film and who also has been part of a creative team of Channel V prefers to analyse.

He says, “In a way yes. It showed the human side of music and not just the glamourous side. We featured Shair N Func and other real bands and it helps their cause. But I don’t really see Bollywood helping out any industry. No industry is there to help any other industry. But yeah, we featured ‘Shair N Func’ in the movie as part of the competition.”

But now does he see bands making an entry into Bollywood?

He says, “Siddharth and Suhas were part of a rock band and then they started doing Bollywood music. Naresh-Paresh form a part of the band of Kailash Kher and they have scored for some films as well. ‘Rock on’ was a one of a kind film, I wonder if there will be more movies of that kind. But it would be interesting to know what they can deal with the subject.”

Front man of Pentagram Vishal Dadlani is a very successful Bollywood composer. He makes sure he uses rock sounds for many of his ventures.

Vishal says, “Both Bollywood music and rock music has its own place but it’s a pleasure to mix both.”

Let’s hear what the others who have only recently entered Bollywood have to say.

Siddarth Couto who’s been a part of Zero band says, “It’s great. I’ve been in the rock scene for almost 12 years and suddenly rock’s gotten cool. I’ve done background score for three films and the latest was ‘Mere Khwabon mein jo aaye’. I’m happy to do music for Bollywood my way. It’s good. ‘Rock On’ has opened quite a few doors. We feel grateful to Farhan Akhtar.”

He adds, “I’ve a movie called ‘Raat Gayi Baat Gayi’ which has a complete jazz background. I’m happy I’m doing music my way.”

Composer Sandeep Chowta states, “‘Rock On’ wasn’t about rock. It was a great, great film though. But normal people here can’t differentiate between pop music, rock and so on. Bollywood is the biggest here. Nothing is beyond Bollywood unlike abroad where there’s rock culture, pop culture, Hollywood etc. But it’s good that people are now recognizing a new type of music.”

He adds, “Bands like Shair +Func did get coverage. But we still have to wait for a movie which has a band composing the complete music and I think someone like Farhan with great knowledge of music can help to do something like that.”

Indian Ocean had composed for ‘Black Friday’.

Dhruv, manager of the band says, “It has brought about a change no doubt. But we already had Shankar- Ehsaan-Loy who has played in bands and we have Vishal Dadlani who plays for Pentagram. As for us, we have two songs for the next film with Aamir Khan and a film called ‘Bhoomi’.”

Though sources from Planet M have said that the sale of western and contemporary music from India has increased by at least 10 percent over the last two years, the general viewpoint about music sales is not so convincing.

According to him, the sales haven’t changed as such though.

Sid Couto says, “But I don’t think music sales haven’t gone up actually. It’s the live jigs which make money and but it’s good if more people are finding live jigs cooler now.”

However Dhruv adds, “Because of the recession, sadly there are hardly any jigs happening anywhere”

Sandeep Chowta says, “As far as music sales are concerned, there are no music sales these days because of free downloads, and things like that. But looks like the interest in live jigs have also gone up.”

But will there be more path breaking movies like ‘Rock On’ in the future?

There was ‘Jhankaar Beats’ long before ‘Rock On’ but it didn’t quite bring about a change.

As Sid Couto likes to put it, “Though Vishal Shekhar experimented, it wasn’t cool enough to bring a change.”

Vipul Shah is now making ‘London Dreams’ with Salman Khan, Ajay Devgan and Asin in the lead. It is based on the life and times of a ‘rock band’.

The movie is a story of a rock band from England and is a story of two childhood friends played by Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan, who are rock musicians. The female lead Asin will be playing the guitar in the movie.

Vipul Shah says, “Well, I can’t really tell you if the movie is exactly about rock music or not. But it’s a different story and the hopes are high.”

Luke Kenny adds, “Now ‘Rock on’ was a one of a kind film, I wonder if there will be more movies of that kind. But it would be interesting to know what they can do with a subject like that.”

Well, many feel that people will only know when ‘London Dreams’ comes out.

Now even the not so known bands like Jalebee Cartel a group of former DJs, Advaita, Mumbai-based Scribe and Delhi-based heavy metal band Undying Inc are experimenting a lot too.

Most of them now plan to not just play covers but make fresh compositions as well and concentrate on lyrics. Musicians say that they are trying to make rock music from India universal. There’s a lot of experimentation with softer sounds and moving away from hard rock, because that’s what most people identify with.

All in all, it looks as if a big change is around the corner
- Sampurn Media
Is India rocking on?

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