Rockstar Journal – The Making of Jordan

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Note from the Director

Jordan, the protagonist, is inarticulate and can express himself only through music. His music is influenced by not only his situation but also by the music of the place he visits. So when Jordan is in Prague hanging about with gypsies, he imbibes their spirit and makes gypsy music. Likewise, when Jordan is thrown out of his house, he goes to Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, spends time with the Qawwals, absorbs their music and plays with them. Jordan’s journey is not only about understanding music, but also about understanding life. As Jordan’s popularity with the masses hits full force in the story, I felt there was a need to demonstrate this craze with an anthem song. Lyricist Irshad Kamil and I spent a lot of time just thinking of phrases, such as Ban jaa, Banjaara, before stumbling on Sadda Haq, Aithay Rakh ((It’s our right, keep it here). This fit well with my story. At that point in the film, Ranbir’s character is asking for his right to be himself. A human being is nature and society has no right to make him plastic. That eventually became the hook. I never have to fit songs in. They simply take the story forward. And just as you cast actors, you look for the best guy to compose that style of music. Most often, the best guy is Rahman sir . In this case, he very specifically was. . I was told Rahman sir doesn’t respect your time. We were supposed to have nine songs, but there are 14 tracks on the CD and around six extra pieces in the film; which makes it 20 in all. None of this has come late. I only had to tell him that I am shooting and the song would reach well in time. Ranbir, too learnt the guitar and spent several days and nights at Rahman’s studio.This way, he had greater ownership of the music while being on stage during shoots. He didn’t have to pretend he knew the music, because he actually did. The film wanted to get itself made. It decided when it wanted to get made, how it wanted to get made and by who. I decided to never to get in its way. Because I always knew that this film was bigger than me.

-Imtiaz Ali


Jordan’s Guitars Through the Years

As a young boy, Jordan used to spend most of his day with the owner of a music shop in Daryaganj, Delhi. Each day he would pick the same acoustic guitar and spend hours trying to understand its intricacies. Awestruck by his musical abilities, the owner gifts him the same guitar. (Not seen in the film).This is his first guitar.

After Jordan fails twice in the same class in college; his elder brother forces him to quit college as he wants him to join the family transport business. But Jordan had no interest in the business. In the ensuing fight, his brother breaks his guitar. Seeing how devastated her son is, Jordan’s mother gives him the money to buy another guitar. This guitar is the semi pro guitar which Jordan carries with him till the end.

His first semi acoustic electric guitar is gifted to him by Om Prakash Khatana, who runs the college canteen. This guitar is also used in his first ever song which is featured in the album ‘Sheher’ produced by Platinum music.

After Prague, Jordan buys a Gibson -339 semi acoustic guitar, because he wants to create an unique sound for the song ‘Saadda Haq’, with extended guitar solos which solidify his new iconic image. This song needs some heavy riffing and grungy tones, reflecting his state of mind at that point. It’s obvious now that Jordan selects a particular kind of guitar, as per the requirements of the song.

Jordan’s third album ‘Banjaranama’ has a Sufi sound and feel to it. For this album, Jordan uses a new guitar – a Gibson Lespaul, which takes his sound to another level.  Henceforth, some of his best solos are played on this guitar.

For ‘Nadaan Parinde’,  Jordan gets a custom made guitar with a falcon etched on it; because  in this phase of his journey he identifies himself with a bird in flight searching for inner peace. The falcon symbolizes Jordan’s inner soul that is suffering till it finds a landing. The music industry also recognizes Jordan as a falcon because of his fearless attitude and his soaring talent.


Jordan’s Look

Jordan’s changing attire defines the changes in his life.Jordan is attached to his memories. Every thought that has affected his life…every feeling that has stayed with him finds a place on his person – could be the clothes he wears or even on his guitar strap. Coming from a small middle class neighbourhood like Pitampura initially his clothes reflect the local desi style. He wears what he considers to be ‘rockstarish’  – tight jeans, hand knit colourful sweaters and so-called stylish shirts.  He never wears kurtas to the college thinking they are not cool enough. He’s nothing but a desperate wannabe.

Key Elements in Jordan’s Wardrobe

1. Kurtas: The kurtas make a comeback in his life when he no longer cares what people think of him. He’s in his own world.

2. Air Force Jacket: His fascination with the armed forces is evident in the clothes he wears throughout the film. In Kashmir he is seen wearing a denim Air Force jacket and a military helmet giving him a rugged vintage look.

3. German Military Helmet: The helmet he wears in Prague is a German military helmet with a peace sign. Even his special performance attire includes military style jackets and long coats.

4. Police Shirt: During the ‘Saadda Haq’ phase he wears a police shirt with a feather tied to it. Wearing the police shirt is an act of rebellion, a reaction to the corrupt system he’s seen closely in prison…

5. Nehru topi with badges : This comes from the influence of Ustad Jameel Khan who has always believed in Jordan and his music. The first time Jordan dons this headgear is while performing with the Ustad for the ‘Jugalbandi’ album. He continues wearing the Nehru cap on and off,whenever he feels the presence of the Ustad around him…

6. Sleeveless Qawwal Jackets: His connect with the qawwals is reflected in the sleeveless qawwal style jackets.

7. Prague Jester Jacket: The gypsies in Prague inspire him to add new elements to this jacket like vibrant colours and tassels and this is the perfect jacket for him when he’s roaming around like a vagabond.

8. Neckpiece: He still keeps a piece of his first broken guitar string and his first guitar pick on his neckpiece, amongst other things. The neckpiece was a gift given by Heer in Kashmir along with the ‘short and cool’ name Jordan. Her gift keeps all his memories tied together and close to him always. Every tiny memorabilia gets added to the neckpiece in his journey; including a small compass when he sets off as a travelling musician.


Jordan’s guitar strap

My guitar strap holds me and my music together. But more than that my guitar strap holds my memories together too…  I made this strap myself with a little help from my mother.  It broke once when my elder brother tried to snatch it from me in anger; but my mother helped me fix it using an old saree border she had. I don’t know if she did this to encourage my music; but I know that she did this because she could not bear to see me unhappy… The guitar strap became extra special after that.

Elements of Jordan’s Guitar Strap

1. Key: This key is of my trunk at home…which was once the only safe place to keep my most valuable things. My niece Bittu gifted me a small metal Bajrangbali which is tied to the key…

2. Indian Flag : The Indian flag found its place on the strap when I sang on stage for the first time on Independence day… but it faded with time…

3. My roll number in college: I found it on a small number plate and this too went on the guitar strap.

4. Single Earring: I had gone shopping with Heer in Kashmir when a shop lady gifted me an earring…  a single earring! It was on the strap for years till it fell down somewhere. I tried looking for it, but never found  it…

5. Rust Coloured Cloth: When the only family I had was Chandbhai’s  qawwali group at Hazrat Nizamuddin. He tied a rust coloured piece of cloth to my guitar strap.

6. Jai Mata Di Chunni: When Khatana Bhai got me to play in the neighborhood Jagraata,I got a Jai Mata Di chunni from them afterwards…Whenever I see that rust cloth and chunni on my guitar, I  feel the incredible energy of  devotees singing and praying  through the night …

7. Metal Falcon:  In Prague, I met some amazing Gypsy musicians… One of them gave me a small metal falcon, saying that I embodied the true nature and essence of the bird…that’s stayed  on the guitar strap as one of the most special memories of Prague and its people…

8. The Tibetan Flag:  This came on my strap at the Dharamshala concert where people really connected to the song ‘Saadda Haq’. I love the word ‘freedom’  and  identified with each and every one who was standing there and shouting for freedom…

9. Bronze Coins: A Buddhist monk tied a set of bronze coins on my strap as a blessing…

10. Freedom Tag :  Met a Rastafarian on my way to Shillong who gave me a tag that said Freedom…

11. Australian Mountaineering Badge: My encounter with a mountaineer in Austria was memorable..He had no toes but had the passion for climbing mountains… he gave me an Austrian Mountaineering badge for my strap and I played a song for him on that bus journey…

12. Star: A Russian soldier passed on a star to me outside the international airport after I performed for his battalion…

13. Butterfly Badge: A little girl in Laddakh gave me a butterfly badge…and this for me symbolizes the innocence and  beauty of that place and  its people…So many journeys, so many people, so many experiences…and I carry a piece of all of them on my guitar strap…

Hazrat Nizamuddin

You have to cover your head at the Dargaah. I came to know when I went to Hazrat Nizamuddin for the first time. I used a handkerchief. After I slept there for two nights, a fakir gave me a cloth. Something was written on it in urdu or Arabic – I didn’t know what. I stayed on. Two months passed. I would notice this man who came there sometimes – always very late at night. He would wear a saffron cap. He gave me a saffron piece of cloth. Then one day I left the dargaah.

Now I am a vagabond in this world. I am always travelling. I am always going somewhere, but I have nowhere to go. I perform on all kinds of stages, to all kinds of people. Sometimes I tie a cloth on my head, sometimes I don’t. But I feel that something from the dargaah is covering my head. At all times it is covering me.

The Legend of Hawaa Hawaa

A man called Sleepy John had a magic stick with which he could point in any direction and it would take him there. One day he said “Let me be instantly in the town where the king lives.” He found himself there on the instant, and he was told that the queen would every night wear out a dozen pairs of shoes, yet nobody was able to follow her track. John went to the King and offered to follow the queen. When the evening was come the queen went to bed in one room and John went to bed in the next room, through which the queen had to pass. He did not go to sleepbut when the queen was going by he pretended to be in a deep slumber… Then she took her twelve pairs of new shoes and off she went.

John got up, put his cap on, and pointed with his stick and said: “Let me be where the queen is.”

Now, when the queen came to a certain rock, the earth opened before her and two dragons came to meet her. John pointed his stick and said “Let me be where the queen is.” The queen was with a crowd of devils, they had a feast. Sleepy John was there too. When the banquet was at an end the devils began to dance with the queen, and they kept on dancing until the queen had worn out all her shoes. When her shoes were worn out, those two dragons took her on their backs again and brought her to the place where the earth had opened before her. John said: “Let me be where the queen is.” By this time she was walking on the earth again, and he followed her. In the morning the lords gathered together and the king asked whether any of them had tracked the queen. But none of them could say “Yes.” “Gracious Lord King, I did indeed track her, and I know that she used up those twelve pairs of shoes upon the green meadows in Hell.”

The queen, seeing that all was known, cried out: “Let the earth swallow me!” and she was swallowed by the earth.

Sleepy John got the half of the kingdom, and, when the king died, the other half too.


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