Sep 3, 2008

Rock On - truths and lies

A couple of days before, I watched the quintessential movie for the Indian rocker – Rock On! I don’t know how I had managed to withhold myself from committing to watch it on the first day itself as a month before I would’ve watched even a B-grade hindi movie on the first day. The movie, in my opinion as a rocker, was good. It does not get any better adjectives for one simple reason – some bad acting and a spotty screenplay.

No, I’m not going to write a review of the movie as there are hundreds of them out there to read. But as my life is almost entirely entrenched in the movie, I thought it would be fun to give you an idea as to how I felt while I watched the movie; how realistic the movie actually was. Here are the good parts of the movie which are so true that they brought a deja vu feeling to me.
  • The struggling amateur band with talent and a lot of hope: there are hundreds of them all over India. Most give up soon and end up taking up jobs like the band mates in the movie.
  • The monetary crunch: Every musician artist goes through this in India, I believe. Well, not if you are a Bindra of course. The movie truthfully depicts the budget that we look at and the bankruptcy that such bands face.
  • The exhilaration of performing on stage: This is unbelievably true. Every rocker wants to play his instrument. But to play live to an audience cheering us on and to act cool on stage is a feeling on it’s own.
  • The reality show: The competitions are fiercely fought and everyone will remain nervous. Since we happen to win a competition like the one shown in the movie, I will tell you that we felt jublilant at winning that. I still remember coming back home and smooching Vinokur and breaking the good news!
  • The ‘lost’ feeling in other jobs: This is very truthfully represented although at times, it is a little exaggerated. Purab Kohli’s character typifies it.
  • The record label: Even though we have been fortunate in this aspect, most record labels tie down the bands with creative restrictions. This is something that all artists hate!
  • Bollywood songs and other stuff: Seriously, none of us like singing ‘Dekha hai pehli baar, saajan ke aankhon mein pyaar’ on dandia beats. We might like the songs but we would like to perform something original people. Ironically, the college crowds will never ever want to hear originals. They would always root for a cover of a Bollywood (trash) hit or a Paki-rock song.
  • The mediocre music quality in bollywood: I respect Anu Malik for the role he plays. It is very truthful to the state in the music industry where creativity and ingenuity are forsaken for commercial success.
  • The pressure from family: That is very true. Most families would disagree to let their son/daughter chase their dreams in something as wild as rock.
  • Misunderstandings and ego clashes: Another very true aspect of being a rocker. Our egos are usually quite big and we all have very creative ideas. It’s easy to arrive at a disagreement and easier to get into an argument or a fight.

As in any movie from Bollywood, there were a few thoughtless scenes and concepts which would remain myths if someone like me would not care to explain. So here goes...

  • The jamming pad for the average Indian Rocker: In the movie, the band called Magik rehearses at their jamming pad – the spacious, vacant, unused basement of a building which the band gets to use for free. This is by the far the farthest fetched thing in the movie. It is impossible to get any space for jamming, that too free. Only rich, rich bastards can afford to jam in such luxury – rich bastards such as Farhan in the latter half of the movie. In reality, we get cramped up rooms with an exorbitant charge and the slots are very hard to find.
  • The bass guitarist: The major glaring error in the movie and it’s story line is that the band doesn’t have a bass guitarist, probably the most elemental part of a rock band. A few would presume that I’m blowing my own trumpet. I’m a bass guitar player alright, but that is not why I state so. Ask any rock musician and they would swear by this claim. The drummer and the bass guitarist really form the background for any rock band. The thing which is even worse is that despite lacking the bassy, there are two guitarists in the band. If there was no bassy, one of them should take up the bass guitar and complete the band. For reference, the only major band which didn’t have the bassy is ‘The Doors’. But I’m sure they would have used bassists in their live performances.
  • The awe-inspiring rock shows: There is the footage of a Rock On concert at the CST (Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus - railways)  in the movie. It is fantastic to watch that. But believe me, such things don’t exist. I still remember the troubles that Farhad Wadia, the man who conducts I-Rock, had to face for setting up the show at the Gateway of India two years back. Despite getting all such permissions, the police denied permission to stage the event an hour before it was scheduled to start and finally the event had to be postponed by about a month! So, such shows are just figments of imaginations. And even in a show which is held in an arena, the public response that you see in the movie is simply overrated. Nobody jumps for every beat of any song. In reality either nobody, or a very few dance when the songs are being belted out live.
  • The bad vibes between the bands: When we go for a concert/competition, there is nothing like pushing and shoving happening backstage! In fact, we get to be friends with the other bands and members and at least I do my best to cheer for them if I find them nice or their music nice. I don’t hide my appreciation for anybody else’s music even if it were a direct competition to us. So, we end up being friends with competitors and often have fun being with them.
  • To get out of traffic jam and walk right into a show: This was by far the stupidest part of the movie. You simply can’t do that. To perform at a concert with any level of professionalism, there is something called a sound-check – this is where you plug in our instruments and set the mixing and levels before the show. Once it is set, when we come on stage the guy at the sound will set the levels according to the sound-check. In the movie, Arjun Rampal walks right into the concert with his guitar and starts playing. This simply doesn’t happen and if you try to do it, the results are usually horrible and pathetic.

42 comments:

Oxy said...

I watched it too over weekend and I would put it in once watch category. Yes, there were thoughtless scenes and situations. I found the scene where Rampal's wife goes over to Farhan's place quite illogical. Do we do that? Naah, And Rampal coming out of taxi and walking straight to show was ridiculous too. Actually there were few quintessential scenes added so that our Bollywood watching junta doesn't get completely startled. And these things are common. Many director/writer have to give in to the pressures from producers to include few scenes. Why, even DCH had that typical bollywood-ish stuff where Aamir in front of hundred people create a ruckus and claims his love for preity.

We still have long way to go.

aMmAr said...

Is there a rock scene in India? or are there any indi rock bands that were able to hit the mainstream?

Firebolt said...

I've got to watch this movie.

By the way, I was listening to the songs you have on that Hey There Alan post and I must say, you really rock man. I love the bass and love the bassist!

And, you're a lucky guy. Vinokur is awesomely cute.

Kris Bass said...

@ Oxy: Yeah, I agree with that wife scene. But I liked her character and the actress did act well in that role. The straight into the rock concert thing is insanely inappropriate.

And I haven't (confession) watched DCH!

@ Ammar: Hello? Noise Market [my own rock band for example]. ;) Yeah, Euphoria, Silk Route, Raghu Dixit Project. First time here I suppose. Thanks for commenting!

@ Firebolt: Yeah, you got to honey!

Wow, thanks for the reviews. And obviously you would be knowing who played bass in all the songs. Oh and by the way, I played almost everything in all the songs in there, exceting promises (Piano and vocals by someone else).

And, yeah... Vinokur is pretty!

Reema said...

have not watched it yet! and didnt read ur post in fear of spoilers :P

Kris Bass said...

@ Reema: There are spoilers... Couldn't help it!

Still thinking said...

I just saw the movie y'day and as opposed to all that b'wood has offered and has to offer, I thought the movie was quite good. The music for once wasn't bad either - I'm sure you'll agree that it was different for all the typical masala that we normally get to hear (btw, I even like that - really can't elude it!)

But I quite liked your post and thank you for making me aware of how technically unaware I am about ROCK :p

P.S: I just read your post on Vinokur, it was really something. I just wanna wish both of you happiness always!

Kris Bass said...

@ Still thinking: I liked the movie. But I didn't want to overdo my hystrionics which would make me forget why I should (because of my unique position with respect the story in the movie) do a critique instead.

I guess I did what I thought I should.

(PS: Thank you! We love each other. We love all of you guys!)

Soham Shah said...

Wow !! That was awesome post ..

We could actually come to know so many secrets you rockstars have and how you struggle, how you feel on stage and how you perform ..

Thoroughly enjoyed reading ur post ..

By the way, uhv not watched DCH .. Dude, u r missing something as far as my opinion is concerned .. GO nd grab a DVD ..

Swats said...

It’s a Bollywood film Kris..wht on earth were u expecting?? (Arjun Rampal walks right into the concert with his guitar and starts playing) I agree some scenes are a bit too far fetched, some clichéd but ROCK ON is refreshingly different,,its not the average run-of-the-mill fare..but u summed it up well ;-)

Critics have given a unanimous thumbs-up to 'Rock On'

Swats said...

and my score is 13..im moderately depressed ;-)

whtever made me take up the bullshit quiz..n whtever u meant by 'im predicting a high score 4 swats n fly'

Kris Bass said...

@ Soham Shah: Thanks a lot for your comments! That's exactly what I intended to do.

I'll watch DCH soon.

@ Swats: Yes dear, it is still a bollywood movie. But you did agree to most points that I came out with right?

I somehow figured that out by going through the entire history of posts and comments! ;)

Anonymous said...

For a while, I have wanted to suggest that you may want to examine the possibility of being atleast borderline depressed yourself. But didnt want to end up giving more lecture baazi :) Glad you brought it up yourself.

I hope you will work constructively towards lowering your stress levels.

My score was 4.

AWWINYC

Anonymous said...

OOOOPS above comment in wrong blogpost!

My bad!

AWWINYC

Kris Bass said...

@ AWWINYC: Yeah, I'm working constructively alright! And FYI, I've spent a lot of time with my books today! Thanks for standing by!

Kris Bass said...

@ AWWINYC: Yeah, I'm working constructively alright! And FYI, I've spent a lot of time with my books today! Thanks for standing by!

myheadtrip said...

want to watch it; hence did not read this post of yours! will watch and then read :D

Kris Bass said...

@ AWWINYC: It's fine! Go on comment anywhere!

@ Myheadtrip: Yeah, don't comment until you watch it! ;)

Oxy said...

Yups I too liked Sahana Goswami. Farhan looked snob, Purab was his usual chilled-out type, Rampal tried hard to look serious and surprisingly succeeded.

U haven't seen DCH, so u haven't missed much I say. One day I will take a quiz and would ask 'have you seen this, this and this', if u say no then...that would be missing something.

handmaiden said...

Obviously, you know your stuff when it comes to the world of the struggling rock band.

I doubt I will ever see that movie, being that I am a middle-aged white woman in America (& not even in a sophisticated metropolitan area like New York or L.A.)
Although, I can identify with the fact that in movies, people never quite live within their means.(This is in reference to The Jamming pad for the average Indian rocker) I have always noticed in Hollywood movies that poor people indulge in some pretty romantic type settings, when in reality poor folk would never have such unlimited access to these rich settings. Unrealistic? Yes, but people go to movies to escape reality. Of course this is true for any type of entertainment, be it movies, plays, or rock concerts.

Roop said...

somethin for u on me blog.

Anonymous said...

finally, Disco is DEAD! -Dh
Yeah for rock!

http://whatwouldjudyblumedo.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

finally, Disco is DEAD! -Dh
Yeah for rock!

http://whatwouldjudyblumedo.blogspot.com/

bloggingknight said...

i liked it too.. some scenes are pretty amazing.
and u know wat kris, when i watched this movie, i remembered you a lot. I even told about you to my friends :D

you too Rock On... and btw when's the album coming? am excited!!

Kris Bass said...

@ Oxy: Yeah, Sahana! And you are the only other guy who liked Purab Kohli in the movie. Arjun could have been a little lightened up I felt.

When's your quiz coming up?

@ Handmaiden: I get your point about reality. But there are movies which would look even better if the people tried to make things closer to reality.

@ Roop: I'll check it out.

@ DH: 'Disco, station, Disco!' Hahhah

@ BloggingKnight: You know what, even I got excited. I too told a lot about me to my friends. ;)

The album is scheduled to come out in November. But I have toes and fingers double-crossed. :)

Nita said...

Kris, good to hear this from the point of view of a rocker. I agree with all your points! :) But you know, realism in a bollywood movie is not easy to come by.

Kris Bass said...

@ Nita: I'm glad that you agree to most of the points here. Talking about bollywood, I heard recently that most Bollywood movies that I have a respect for are covers of Hollywood or other cinema.

handmaiden said...

From what I understand Bollywood is the only entertainment capitol in the world that even compares to Hollywood. I don't know of any other country besides India that can make that distinction. Apparently, Indians & Americans love movies & it's not realism that draws us to them.

Kris Bass said...

@ Handmaiden: Well, what should I say? I agree. But then, Hollywood is more realistic isn't it?

Suki said...

I was dragged along to watch it, and after this spurt of blog reviews I'm really glad I went!
For me, this movie just didn't cut it. Too many plot holes. In some ways, it hit home - I have a struggling amateur musician for a boyfriend. But well... after a point it just got too cheesy and unbelievable to relate to.
Loved Purab Kohli, and drooled over Arjun Rampal but wanted to blast Joe for being such an idealist.

One thing my boyfriend noticed was that the rival band in the first competition was a metal band, and the vocalist got beaten up. The rivals in the second competition were an emo/punk band. I feel this privileges classic rock over metal and emo in a way that is really not too nice. You're quite right - backstage dynamics are much more friendly, a bit like a peloton in cycling. There's a huge undercurrent and a bigger favour bank, but everyone is polite to everyone.. especially while talking shit behind their backs.

I guess this is my first comment on your blog :). Found my way here from Nita.

Matanet said...

ARJUN RAMPAL is very best
foto.rambler.ru/users/ramu-mohak

Matanet said...

my-prem.ucoz.net/forum

Matanet said...

May be Arjun rocker bhi nahin hai..Yeah, kya fark hai?
Woh actor hai, sirf actor..Sub khata in movie hai..Us ki koi kasoor nahin hai
Yah movie hai..Sachi ya nahin, yah sirf movie hai..Or Arjun apne khod role acha ke tarah kare...

harshasrisri said...

one of the most sensible review! of any movie for tht matter. usually, reviews focus on the commercial and satisfactory perspective. but this one gives us a taste of the difference between reel and real! :) nice blog btw...

Kris Bass said...

@ Suki: Great review! You are correct about most points. I hadn't noticed tha Classic Rock Vs. Metal/Emo Rock sub-plot. I loved the song Zehreley and I feel that it's totally under-rated.

Sorry for the delays to respond. I don't have regular internet. I'm typing this from my mobile.

Good to se ya! Hope to have more comments.

Kris Bass said...

@ Suki: Great review! You are correct about most points. I hadn't noticed tha Classic Rock Vs. Metal/Emo Rock sub-plot. I loved the song Zehreley and I feel that it's totally under-rated.

Sorry for the delays to respond. I don't have regular internet. I'm typing this from my mobile.

Good to se ya! Hope to have more comments.

Kris Bass said...

@ Matanet: I suppose this is spam. Does anyone else get the sense of what he meant?

@ Harshasrisri: Thanks! Look, I could because I live the life of the people in the movie. Do drop by and comment!

Anonymous said...

By far the best "review" that I have read of Rock on.

Being a musician in my college days I relate to everything that you have so beautifully penned

Kris Bass said...

@ Anonymous: Thank you. Being a musician enables to understand my view points better.

sanjukta said...

Wow this is an eye opener.. the critics of the world should be touching these things if they really have to criticize a film instead of writing boring

Although I do think you could be a bit easy on them and give some leverage coz it's a mainstream commercial movie, not a documentary you know :)

Kris Bass said...

@ Sanjukta: Thank you! Nothing ever escapes my criticism! ;)

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