Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar says there was “nostalgia” about “Rock On!!” while working on its forthcoming sequel, but he did not have time to miss anyone, including director Abhishek Kapoor who helmed the 2008 film.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You and the “Rock On” team conceived a rather unique of promoting the film this time’

Yeah, since the film was about music, we have been doing road shows. I think this is the first time that a film is being promoted in this way. Even when we made the first ‘Rock On!!’ movie in 2008, we did live concerts only after the film’s release.

Q. That’s because at that time you were probably not sure how this new genre in filmmaking would be received’

Yes, even the music of “Rock On!!” caught on only after the film was released. The songs got a life of their own only when people watched the film. This time we were invited by various cities to come and play our music on stage. In this way, we are going and engaging with the audience with the music, which is what the film is about. Also, performing live on stage gives us something more fun to do than waving at crowds and blowing kisses in malls.

Q. The delay was because the original director Abhishek Kapoor opted out and Shujaat Saudagar was brought in

Yes, that. Also, for four to five years after ‘Rock On!!’ in 2008, there was no intention of doing a second film. We made sure we had the right script before we got into a sequel. Shujaat picked up the threads from the first film quite effortlessly. He had enjoyed the first film and he’s heavily into this kind of music. Once he was on, we all sat together on the script. He was really into it. Shujaat was very sincere.

Q. Did you miss Abhishek Kapoor’

No! I never got the chance. Having said that, I must say I’ve amazing memories of the first film. There was a serious element of nostalgia while making the new Rock On film, no getting away from it, when we were referring back to certain incidents from the earlier film.

Q. So you did miss the first film’

Of course we were reminded of the earlier film. But there was no time to miss anyone. We had work to complete.

Q. The first “Rock On!!” film came eight years ago. Did you guys pick up the threads of the plot organically’

To be honest, it didn’t feel like such a time lapse. We felt like we were moving into an apartment after vacating it for eight years. We knew all the rooms of the apartment even if they had been re-furnished to a certain extent. Having gotten over the initial hiccups, there was a collective energy that was generated by our coming together again. When we started jamming together, we felt the same bonding again.

Q. Have you made a conscious effort to ensure “Rock On 2” has more to offer the audience than “Rock On”‘

You can’t consciously set out to create a bigger or better sequel. It doesn’t work that way. It is more important to make sure that the story you have to tell in the second part remains true to the characters created. The music had to again belong to the film. There are certain situations requiring a particular song. The music had to be integral to the film.

Q. As the producer, you are aware that the film has to make money’

Of course. But our intention is to make a good film and hope it would become successful. Fortunately for us, people have not forgotten the first film. They remember the characters and the music. It’s something else, something vital, that people have forgotten.

Q. What is that’

People have forgotten the drama in the first film. They seem to remember “Rock On!!” as a breezy and light film, when in fact, it wasn’t breezy and light. There was death, drama and many layers, not remembered today. The new “Rock On!!” film also has drama and layers.

Q. What about the new entrants in the “Rock On!!” team — Shashank Arora and Shraddha Kapoor’ Did it take them time to become part of the “Rock On!!” gang’

Not at all. Shashank came in, auditioned and was on. We realized that he plays music in real life. So that was a big incentive. Shraddha has a great voice. She learnt to play the piano when she was a child. She also plays the keyboard. She is related to the illustrious Mangeshkar family. So there is music in her genes. She auditioned for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, just sang a couple of songs that she enjoys singing. Everyone was completely blown away.

Q. Are you all set for a third film’

That remains to be seen. Considering how long it has taken for us to do the second “Rock On!!” film, we can only hope it happens.

By Subhash K. Jha

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