Interview: Abhishek Kapoor

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Bollywood directors have changed their ways in the past few years. They now stray from making what was once recognized as the typical Hindi flick. Abhishek Kapoor is an elite example of this, an actor turned director with a creative mind, who has a unique perspective when making his films. He made Aryan in 2006 – a film based on boxing and now with his next venture, Rock On!!, Abhishek takes on a completely different genre. The film follows the lives of four men out to re-create their passion for music and art as they finally begin to live out their dream.

In this exclusive interview with BollySpice, Abhishek Kapoor speaks about his journey from Aryan to his experience of writing and directing Rock On!!

What inspired you to write Rock On!!? Are you actually a die-hard rock music fan, or is it simply the theme of the film?

I had just finished my earlier film Aryan and was wondering what to make next. I had this idea of making a film about 4 friends who had a band. I wanted to make it nostalgic and about going down memory lane. During that phase I got myself an iPod and was listening to some fabulous rock tracks. That’s when I got totally hooked on making this film.

Tell us a little about shooting the concert scenes. That must have been a massive undertaking.

As the film was about the band and their performances, shooting the concerts became the most crucial part. All the actors were prepared to go on stage and play the entire song without any cuts. We shot it on 5 camera set up. It wasn’t shot like a regular Hindi film song where you cut after each line. They ran through the whole song with full energy and was then put together on the edit table.

We love that the band has gone on tour. Whose idea was this originally and how has the response been so far?

I think it was a natural extension for our promotion plans. As we had a film about a band and Farhan had sung his own songs, we felt it was only natural to tour cities and perform for the crowds, especially students who would be our targeted audience. So far we have done Pune, which was the first stop. It was quite elating as we didn’t know what to expect but the crowds reactions just blew us away.

Your previous movie Aryan was with Sohail Khan, also a director. Now you’re working with Farhan Akhtar. Was this been planned or a coincidence, especially since this is Farhan’s debut as both an actor and a singer?

Yes, it is quite a coincidence. Why would anyone plan something like this. I have known Farhan far many years now and I knew he was just perfect for the part.

The rest of the Rock On!! cast comes from very different filmi backgrounds. How did you decide who would suit which role because essentially they all have to portray rock star characters?

I had worked out character sketches of all 4 of them in much detail. I knew what I wanted from the actors who were going to play those parts. When I started to audition them they just fell in place. I didn’t want a cast that would be competing with each other in fact I wanted them to compliment each other. Only that would help in bringing out the true essence of a band.

Since you are an actor as well, how do you feel that has helped you as a director? Also, how has that helped you in developing and writing your scripts since both Aryan and Rock On!! are movies of quite a unique genre and tackle very unique issues?

Having been an actor I understand how the actors feel on set and how important it is to have them in a comfortable space in their heads for them to give their best. I tried to make them comfortable and to play to their strengths and underplay their weaknesses.

Actually both my films had unique backdrops (Aryan had boxing and Rock On!! has rock music) but they are both dramas dealing with emotions and highlighting conflicts people deal with within themselves. They are both about fighting your inner demons. These unique backdrops help in making the narrative fun and different to watch.

Though Aryan was appreciated, it didn’t work at the box office. When your film doesn’t perform as well as you would have liked, how does it make you feel?

Yes Aryan didn’t do well at the box office. But I had known that would happen before it was released and had made peace with that. It had been delayed incessantly and the promos had been playing on T.V. for a year before the movie came out. That in itself was suicidal for the film. But I had to really struggle to have it released in theaters. When anyone says they liked the film it makes me really happy. It was my first baby and will always be special to me.

What do you think of Bollywood films today? Do you think the industry and the films are getting better?

There are very few film makers left today that are churning out your typical “Bollywood” film. Other than the few handful I believe everyone one out there, especially the young film makers, is pushing the envelope and hoping to touch the realms of the international film scenario. It’s a very healthy trend.

Do you think Indian audiences will accept a film like Rock On!!?

I do not see any reason why they wont. It’s a good film dealing with emotions anyone can relate to and is a well told story with an interesting back drop. I’m sure it will do well.

Who would you like to work with in the future, whether you’re acting or directing?

I would like to work with people who are not afraid in doing things that are progressive and thinking out of the box. It’s the only way forward, it’s the only way to the future.

What is your favorite genre? Comedy, drama, action or romance?

As an audience I enjoy all genres as long as the narrative is good. As a director I feel my forte is Drama but I would surely like to try something different in the future, maybe a comedy.

Finally, what other projects are coming up? Will we be seeing you on screen any time soon or are you continuing with direction?

At the moment I am totally immersed in the post production work of Rock On!!. I have a few ideas that I am looking to develop but I will be able to put my mind to it only once it releases.

Abhishek, what final message would you like to give to the fans?

I believe you live just once and you must do it with full gusto and apply yourself to what ever you believe in and have no regrets. Go out there and express yourself. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

Thank you so much, Abhishek! We appreciate you taking the time to give us such insightful answers. BollySpice wishes you the best for Rock On!! and all your future endeavors. May you continue to make such unique films and allow Bollywood more opportunities to think outside the box as it progresses towards a brighter future.

Rock On!! will be releasing on the 29th of August. It stars Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny, Purab Kohli, Shahana Goswami and introduces Prachi Desai to the film industry. Farhan Akhtar will also be seen on screen for the first time as an actor and singer.

Meanwhile, stay tuned as we bring you yet another rocking interview.

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