"Rock On for us is not just a film, it's an experience" - Farhan Akhtar

By Satish Sundaresan, Bollywood Hungama News Network

He is the man who everyone wants to be. His is the name that everybody wants to adopt! His is the film that everybody wants to make! We are indeed talking about the 'Friday's favourite' man, Farhan Akhtar, who has given Bollywood a new identity to enjoy. If his films like Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya and Don 2 are any indication of the genius that this master filmmaker is made of, then his latest hit flick, Rock On, only confirms that it really takes people (read 'cult' filmmakers) like him to shake up and shape up the movie scene!

Bollywood Hungama caught up with this sheer genius for an exclusive tête-à-tête. Presented here are the excerpts of this classic interview:

Farhan, to start of with, tell us as to how did the story of Rock On evolve?
The story of Rock On is a well-thought of thing, that's written by its director Abhishek 'Gattu' Kapoor, who has also written the screenplay. When Gattu and the film's co-writer Pubali were on their first draft stages of the film, Gattu told me the film's story and gave me the brief outline of the film. I was very attracted to it as I found it to be a very special story, something that had a very warm and real life like characters. I found that all the characters were very identifiable and the film also had the kind of music that I love and would relate to. All of this made me decide completely that I want to be a part of this project. That's how the ball was set rolling!

Who took the call on the casting aspect? You or Abhishek?
It was quite tricky for casting in a film like Rock On, where there are four principal characters and where all of these characters are equally important. The reason why I used the 'tricky' word is because if you cast a person who is a bigger star than what the part requires, then, it can shift the balance for the viewer who is watching the film. Hence, it was very important for us to cast very aptly. We are very fortunate that Abhishek had his characters' cast in place for Purab and Luke.

After that, he and I spoke to Arjun Rampal for the role of Joe. If you see the film, you will know that it's not just the boys, but also the girls (Shahana and Prachi) are cast in a way that you will start believing in these people as the film's characters with no pre-conceived notions.

Since this kind of genre (rock music et al) has been never attempted or tried in Bollywood because of the risk factors at the B-O, what made you walk the path? Were you not scared of risks?
I can't speak for other people, but, for me, there was no risk involved. The very first day when Abhishek spoke to me about the story, I did not waste a single moment in saying, Yes. I was just completely taken in by the story. Even though there is rock culture, the film is just not about only that, as it goes beyond all that and much more. The film's basically an emotionally strong story that exhibits the importance of friendships, relationships…the kind of stuff that you have chosen to have in your life. The film speaks about these aspects in a very mature and a deep level. That is what affected me the most when I heard the script. All of this left no doubt in my mind about the making of the movie.

News has it that you were so tad impressed with the way the Rock On has shaped up, that you are thinking to land up forming a real life rock band! Is that true?
Rock On for us (Purab, Arjun, Luke and me) is not just a film, it's an experience. I think that's the power of music. And when you play music together, there's an invisible bond that develops between the members. We really enjoyed the process or rehearsing and jamming with each other so much that we are very strongly contemplating on the fact that we should continue practicing. Hopefully, by the end of this year, we should be able to pull it off! And the line up of the band will be exactly what you saw in the film!

How were the first and the last day of the shoot for Farhan the 'Actor'?
Let it be direction or acting, the first day is always nerve racking as it's 'that' day that really sets the tempo and the pace of the days to come.

Of course, one has to focus on each and every day very hard after that, but the first day is always the first day, the most memorable one! What was also interesting about Rock On is that we shot the first scene of the film on the first day and the last scene on the last day! The fact also remained that since all of us bonded very well as friends helped the film in a big way!

Farhan, has anybody ever told you that your voice resembles Chris Martin, the lead singer of Cold Play?
The only person who has ever told me that is Gattu. When we met for the first time he immediately told me 'Whenever I hear your voice, it reminds me of Chris Martin. That's why I want to know if you can sing'.

How was your first rendezvous with the microphone as a singer?
I've been playing the guitar and have been singing for years now. So, on some level, the film was really a dream come true for me. Also, to be working in an album with a different kind of role with the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy was indeed different. Normally, I sit with them (S-E-L) as a director, extracting the best music out if them. But this time round, I was this someone whom they were focusing on and trying to get the best out of as a singer, which was a completely new experience. But trust me! All of us had a fantastic time.

The concept of promoting Rock On through live concert is indeed a noble idea. Whose brainwave was it?
The concept of Rock On concerts was more of a mutual decision that was unanimously thought of by all of us. When we were brainstorming (read 'jamming') on new ideas to promote the film, everyone of us came up with the idea of organizing concerts. We started off with the film's music release, which was followed by a series of concerts at various locations in India.

It's often seen that directors either repeat the signature tune or some other music from their previous hit film to their next one. You too have done that with Lakshya's riff in Rock On. Will Rock On get carried forward to your next film?
I really doubt that if it's going to happen at all. The kind of music that Rock On has got, it really works damn well in the film and for the film. I do agree that we have used a certain tune of my previous film Lakshya. That's because, when we were recording the music for Lakshya, we were really very excited with that particular piece of music. And post the release of Lakshya; we felt that it did not get proper justice that it deserved. And this is something that was always on my mind. And that's why, when we were recording for Rock On, the first thing that S-E-L and I decided was about using the said piece music from Lakshya in Rock On.

Did you offer any direction tips to Abhishek, considering the fact that you are more experienced than him?
If at all he ever felt the need to ask for any advice, I would give it to him. But he was very clear about what he wanted as he has lived with the script for long. As a producer, Ritesh (Sidhwani) and I offered him whatever we could.

You had told somewhere that you let Gattu direct the film because it was his idea all through. If there was any other filmmaker in his place, would you have still said yes to this film?
If I had seen anyone as committed, passionate and sincere about the script as Gattu is, then yes.

Rock On is all about 'rediscovering the joy of living a complete life'. Is there anything in your life that you feel is incomplete?
As of now, I am so very happy about the way things are happening in and around me that I am left with no time to think of the things that are unfulfilled! The film has just released and I know that its extremely tiring leading up to that point. As a matter of fact, I am totally drenched out from all the aspects: mentally, physically and even emotionally!

What's your take on the rock scene in India as compared to abroad?
I feel that rock in India is in its better stages. The fact that a film is being made on rock music itself proves that the rock scene in India has surpassed its nascent stages and I am sure that the coming days will only see rock on a larger canvass!

Do you feel that Rock On will do the same to the Indian rock scene what Chak De India and sportsmen like Abhinav Bindra did to the sports scene in India?
Frankly speaking, I cannot predict that. But I can tell you one thing that Rock On has indeed brought the spotlight onto rock music. It has also made people aware that the rock music is not niche music. According to me, the rock music shares its basic fundamentals with Hindi film music. I know there are lots of people in India who are very passionate about rock music and there are lots of them who get frustrated at times because of the lack of a proper platform and an outlet. I just hope that people by now are aware of rock music and will surely look up to it!

Lastly, when do we see Farhan 'Rocking' the silver screen again?
Well, there's Luck By Chance by sister Zoha which should release by January- February next year. After that, I'm directing Voice From The Sky, followed by Don 2 and a couple of other films with other directors. Till then, do keep rocking!

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