Rock On!!

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It is a known fact that Farhan Akhtar is making his debut as an actor with Rock On!!. What may not be known, is the fact that he is also debuting as a singer with this movie.

Rock On!! also stars Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Luke Kenny, Shahana Goswami and introduces television heartthrob Prachi Desai. Debut director Abhishek Kapoor insisted that Farhan, who plays the lead singer, know how to sing for authenticity so Farhan was trained under Shankar Mahadevan. Rampal (the guitarist) and Kohli (the drummer) were trained by Linzie D’mello and Chandresh Kudwa respectively, while Luke Kenny was already a good keyboard player. Rock On!! has lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar and is set for release on 29th of August.

Farhan and Shankar-Eshaan-Loy have had a successful partnership with Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya and Don. This time around, it’s Farhan who is being directed by Shankar-Eshaan-Loy as he sings 6 out of the 9 tracks of the album. While waiting for a verdict about his performance as an actor, let’s have a look at how he has performed as a singer.

The album kicks off with Socha Hai by Farhan. In a nutshell, it is a song encouraging contemplation of questions such as ‘why the earth is round’ or ‘why silk is soft’. Farhan may not be a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan but is effective as a lead singer of a rock band. Think Ganesh Hedge meets Lucky Ali. He grasps the feel on the song, understands the emotions he has to convey and effectively gets it across. His voice holds in high notes and does not drown in the low notes. Most of all, he does not scream out the words and appears confident and enthusiastic. Eshaan Noorani on lead guitar and Darshan Doshi on drums deserve special mention for their excellent work.

Pichle Saath Dinon Mein is next with Farhan behind the mic again. A rocking song along the same lines as ‘Socha Hai’, it is about how the singer has lost a list of the things in the past 7 days, the last thing being his heart to a girl he met at a party on the 7th day. Farhan nails the song again. It’s not long before you start nodding your head to it and singing along to the chorus, ‘Nana Na Na Na’. Javed Akhtar swaps his usually cryptic poetic lyrics for straightforward, everyday language which makes the song close to real life. ‘Pichle Saath Dinon Mein’ is repeated later on in the album as a live version which is equally good.

Farhan rocks on with Rock On!! which is easily the most rocking track of the album. The song starts off with a tune used as theme music in Lakshya’s background score. A well written track about following dreams no matter what, it is bound to get you rocking to it in no time. Once again Eshaan does an amazing job on lead guitar.

Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein provides a nice interval after the fast and loud phase of the album. Dominique Cerejo’s excellent rendition of this song touches the heart and gives the album character and shape. It’s a song about song making through something as simple as having a conversation. The music remains true to rock yet still manages to convey the softer, melodious side of it.

Easily the worst track of the album, Zehreelay is very dark, angry and loud. As soon as it starts, you feel like skipping ahead to the next song. Probably to be picturized on a rival band, ‘Zehreelay’ is sung and co-composed by Suraj Jaggan who screams his way through the song (although not as bad as Atif Aslam in Kismat Konnection), and it is advised that you delete this from your playlist as soon as possible. As the name suggests this track is toxic.

So far we have heard Farhan in a rockstar’s avatar. He dials the rock down a notch, presses the emotions button and turns up the romance dial with Tum Ho To. Think Jhankaar Beats’s ‘Jab Kabhie’ meets ‘Tu Hai Asmaan Mein’. It’s a beautiful song about how the singer’s life is incomplete, if not non-existent, without the presence of the one he loves. The choir-like background vocals makes the song almost seem like a hymn or a prayer. Raise your candles as Farhan literally reaches new heights with this song. The song has some very high notes that Farhan holds for quite a while without wavering. One commends Shankar Mahadevan for training him so well.

Farhan gets back on the rock wagon with Sinbad the Sailor. Akhtar Sr. pens this track well as the story of Sinbad is intertwined with messages of following your dreams and never quitting despite the obstacles. It’s no surprise that Farhan knocks this one out of the park as well. ‘Sinbad the Sailor’ is only two thirds of the track because in the final portion, Raman Mahadevan joins Farhan for a rocked up version of ‘Tum Ho Toh’. Both singers complement each other well and add char chands (four stars) to the original version.

After flying high for 37 minutes, the album makes a soft landing with the concluding track Phir Dekhiye which is beautifully sung by Caralisa Monteiro. The music is basically made up of guitars and the piano. Short, sweet, simple and effective, it’s a song about stopping and smelling the roses, dreaming a little and having hope. A great way to sum up the album.

With Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna being a tainted reflection of Kal Ho Na Ho and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom sounding like the same song being repeated 6 times over, music enthusiasts thought Shankar-Eshaan-Loy’s end was near. Those days have been lost in the dust as Rock On!! steps on the accelerator, pulling Shankar-Eshaan-Loy out of the hell hole.

Farhan’s performance as a singer is impressive, if not as good as his talent as a director. He is so much better than some of the current screamers we have running around calling themselves singers (cough cough… Atif Aslam and Vishal Dadlani).

The verdict is out. Rock On!! rocks. Let’s hope we also get a visual confirmation on that once August 29th rolls around.

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