this Not Real Rock Music™ is pretty good, whatever it is

Say what you will about Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On!; that it was a man-child-o-rama; yet another film about rich South Mumbai brats far removed from the Real India™ (whatever that is); that the music was not Real Rock Music™ (whatever that is). Rock On! is still a great piece of entertainment, a perfectly formulaic but fully satisfying two hour getting-the-band-back-together movie, with the added incentive of discovering that — whaddya know? — Farhan Akhtar can not only act, but he has a real and interesting screen presence; that this Not Real Rock Music™ is pretty good, whatever it is; and that the well of man-child-o-ramas didn’t dry up at Excel Entertainment with Dil Chahta Hai & Lakshya.

I can argue forever about the dismissive, immature summation of movies as being about ‘man children’ another time, or the debate about Not Real Rock Music™ (I classify music, when I bother to, into only two genres: Good, and Not Good). But this is A Song on Sunday and in this space we are above such things, for the duration. I’m here to present to you the best song from Rock On!, the one that stands above an admittedly very solid album — Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein.

Now, some of you are crying foul. I’ve chosen one of the two songs from Rock On! that are definitely not rock music, or even Not Real Rock Music™.

Others will be complaining about how this is the most flagrant piece of Man-Child-giri in the film, when all the guys are shirking their responsibilities(!) as corporate stuffed suits who bring home the batatas, and are rewarded for it with new guitars and candle-light sexytimes, and that is definitely a bad example to set for stuffed shirts everywhere, and their wives/girlfriends/boyfriends/just-good-friends who have been fighting the tireless fight against the scourge of ManChild since, like, forever (or whenever they turned 22).

Still others, fans of the movie like me, perhaps, are complaining that it’s the song not sung by Farhan Akhtar and the fictional in-film band, Magic. It’s sung by a girl (Dominique Cerejo), and focuses mostly on the girl in the film ( Prachi Desai), and everyone knows girls mean only one thing: cooties. The enemy of Real Rock Music™.

poster for abhishek kapoor's rock on with purab kohli, farhan akhtar, luke kenny, arjun rampalSo, if you are not among these three groups, chances are you’re still reading instead of writing to your Congressman/Mommy/The internet about the unfairness of it all, and have actually heard the song.

…Isn’t it truly wonderful?

Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein is, if I were to make a list, one of my favourite songs of the last few years. I love everything about it, from the careful dance of the drums to the tight, infectious guitar riff that forms its backbone. I love Dominique Cerejo’s voice, who before this I only ever identified as a back-up singer in various Shankar Ehsaan Loy songs.

Hell, I even love the Annu Malik cameo.

I listen to this song and its jazzy, mellow vibe and instantly I am transported to countless lazy Sunday afternoons in Mumbai — South Mumbai, in fact, rich brats and all — golden sunlight dripping around dark, leafy shadows; quiet office district streets punctuated by the odd BEST bus thrumming around a bend; sipping milky tea brewed solely in the steam wand of an espresso machine, and pausing on every bite of a hot palak paneer dosa.

Rock On! may get sneered at as a South Mumbai brat film, but really, South Mumbai is a fine thing — it’s as real a place as any in India. I’d suffer a dozen more movies about its brats (who are, in real life, sometimes adorably removed from reality) if I was guaranteed a song like this in each of them.

In the end, while I like Rock On! (as I do most Akhtar/Excel products) immensely as a movie, my reasons for loving Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein aren’t much to do with the film. Yes, it’s the perfect score for a good, emotionally satisfying montage in the film, where things start to go right for our heroes and their ladies.

But sometimes, when I find myself far from South Mumbai, or even in it on a Sunday afternoon, this song starts to play in my head, I walk in lock-step with its rhythm, a perfectly contented smile on my face. It’s a great song.

And that’s reason enough for it to be this week’s Song on Sunday.

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