Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On is to hit the theatres end of this month, and the title song, aired endlessly on FM, is a reminder to listeners whose face they are going to see on the screen.
With hits like Dil Chahta Hai and Don under his belt and a dashing image that gives established movie stars a run for their money, filmmaker Farhan Akhtar is generating huge buzz ahead of his debut as an actor and singer.
Speaking of image, Farhan, who plays a musician in Rock On, feels that the music fraternity in India is far less burdened by public perception than film stars. He had once said, “There is a core of innocence to being a musician that is denied to an actor. Reason: “The media explosion, and actors feeling that they are under constant surveillance. So, most actors create an image they would want people to see. Musicians don’t have such issues, in this country at least, as there’s less public interest in their private lives.”
Building a character
For his role, Farhan took cues from his musician friends, “mainly in terms of their attitude towards each other, themselves, music companies, the audience and music itself”.
Off screen, the filmmaker who grew up fantasising about being a rockstar feels that really living the dream will take time. “Haven’t we all had that fantasy? [But] I don’t think I’m ready for my own band yet. I need to work on my guitar playing and singing a lot more first.”
He learnt to play the guitar as a hobby nine years ago. “I taught myself through books, videos and the Internet,” he says. “I’ve played with friends who are serious musicians at informal jams at my home or their place, but never professionally in front of an audience... before this film.”
A happy day
When he finally had that audience — at a live show in Mumbai — he got a terrific surprise. “The crowd knew the lyrics. It was great to hear them singing back at me. It pumped me up!” he says happily.
The Net is full of discussions on Farhan the singer; some call him a better singer than a chart-topper like Atif Aslam. “I am happy with the response to the album first and then my singing,” Farhan replies to that.
Comparisons are uncalled for, since he consciously avoided aping anyone. “I haven’t modelled my character on any rock icon. That would have reflected in the singing style. [Composer] Shankar told me not to be like anyone,” he says.
Cut to real life, he feels that the Indian rock scene is “definitely gaining prominence and its audience is growing. There are some really good bands doing original work. This is an indication of the genre reaching the youth all over India.”
But given that rock is still considered a niche, is the audience ready for Rock On? “
Audiences are ready for engaging, fresh stories and Rock On is one of those,” says Farhan, confident of his film’s appeal.