Bands in North-East rock


From highlighting  the issues of people from the North-East, shooting at a scenic location in Shillong to collaborating with independent music artists, makers of Rock On 2 have gone all out to experiment with things that have never been done before in Bollywood. Sangeeta Yadav talks to the director to tell you what makes this sequel different

From Abhimaan, Karz, Baiju Bawra to Sur, London Dreams, Rockstar, Soundtrack, Ashiqui 2, Zubaan, and now Rock On 2, the trend of films on musicians has always had many takers. Filmmakers for decades have not only cash on on this trend but have also experimented with music genres to bring out the best of independent music and Bollywood.

“Music is constantly evolving. Nine out of 10 films have typical Bollywood style of music. The sad part is that we are still Bollywood-centric and the independent music in the industry is secondary. Having said that, I think there is a very positive change that is happening in cities in the last few years. With films like Rock On 2 and other music TV shows like Coke Studio and The Dewarists, the change coming which is encouraging. What Bollywood can do is it to use films as a platform to showcase independent music from different parts of India,” Shujaat Saudagar, director of Rock On 2, says.

Unlike its prequel, Rock On, the canvas of music in its sequel is much larger as many veteran singers have collaborated with North-East rock bands.

Meri Laundry Ka Ek Bill is not what the characters should be singing. They had to evolve from that. The first part was about the garage band. In the sequel, we have featured bands likes Summer Salt and many others. Pentagram band and Vishal Dadlani’s band also got featured in it. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy experimented a lot with the sound especially for Shraddha’s character. There is Usha Uthup who jams in traditional Khasi music genre. There is whole lot of new music one will get to listen in this movie,” he says.

Though the sequel is coming after a gap of eight years, the story of Rock On 2, the characters and the music have evolved.

“When Rock On was released, it created a cult in Bollywood. The responsibility to make its sequel was huge as we wanted to tell a story which will be a continuation of where we ended. To find out what happens to these characters from where we left them, that took three years. We have not set out to make a super-hit music film but to tell a story which has amazing music inter-woven with narration,” he says.

As a filmmaker, Saudagar focusses on the intent behind telling that story through the film instead of making anything as a factory.

“Some filmmakers make sequels to cash on on its franchise. Some make films to be on Page 3. A very important question every filmmaker needs to ask himself is ‘why do I need to tell the story? Is it going to make a difference in any way whether it’s in entertainment industry or giving out a message in the society? A poignant story that needs to be told to the people?’ I feel if you don’t have story that you are burning to tell, I don’t think you should make a film. You can’t treat industry as a factory which you open and it starts running out,” he says.

The common threat that connects Rock On 2 and other Bollywood films like Jewel Thief, Kurbaan, Koyla, Daman and Saaya is the fact that they were all shot in the scenic valleys and mountains of The Seven Sisters. Rock On 2 which was shot entirely in Shillong is all about the issues of the North-Eastern people and features some of their best music band.

“The intent was to bring North-East into the mainstream of cinema which was never been done before. To take the story and the characters of Rock On out of Mumbai to Shillong was a big challenge. The idea to shoot in the region struck us two years back when the incident of brutal attacks on Manipuri students in Delhi made headlines. Farhan and I started discussing about this and that’s when we decided to shoot the film there. We all know Shillong is called the Rock Capital of India. The film is about the North-East and addresses the issues that every common man is facing there. They play a huge part in the film,” Saudagar says.

It was not easy to shoot in Shillong and it posed challenges.

“It was an unknown space in which we were getting into. We got a lot of resistance internally as well from the production team. People said: ‘Why do we have to go so far?’ But it was not that far. We had to break a lot of myths. Purab Kohli and Javed Akthar had travelled a lot in the North-East so they put me on to some of the people in Shillong. The moment we entered the region, it was absolutely spectacular, not from the beauty perspective but the locals there are amazing. They participated in every activity and made it so easy for us. The two months of shooting was a breeze. After the shooting got over, every crew member and actors were sad to leave Shillong,” Saudagar tells you.

(The article also got published in Sunday Pioneer –


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