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Rocking in Bollywood

November 2008
Rocking in Bollywood


Javed Akhtar, the celebrated Bollywood lyricist, is not too impressed with Indian rock music, which he has described as “very superficial.” But that didn’t stop him from writing the lyrics for Rock On, his son’s new film. So, did Farhan Akhtar, of Dil Chahta Hai fame, really make the first Bollywood film centering on Indian rockers? Possibly, though what’s more newsworthy is the timing, since desi rock musicians are no longer exotic rarities. Indian Ocean, for instance, is widely known, but there’s also a long list of other bands that showcase their music with varying degrees of success. Interestingly, many of them rock in Indian languages rather than English.

Though Snow White and Summer Salt sound Anglophone, these India-based bands rock in Khasi. As a newsweekly adds, “Cactus, Fossils, Hip Pocket and Chandrabindoo have become the pride of Bengali rock lovers.” Among desi bands with the most inventive names, here’s one that can be considered for the top prize: Menwhopause. Not that there’s any shortage of other such band names. Here are a few more: Nerverek, Souled Out, Myndsnare.

India has at least two periodicals—Rock Street Journal and Rave—that focus on rock music. Apart from clubs and music festivals, there are record labels to support this thriving rock scene.

What is Rock On about? It charts the rise of an Indian band. But despite winning acclaim, the path becomes rocky for these four young rockers. Their squabbles lead to the band’s breakup, but naturally that’s not the whole story. Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny reunite after Prachi Desai, Akhtar’s wife, intervenes on their behalf. The movie ends with—you guessed it—a concert that’s a grand success.

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