Ever since its Indian premiere at the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival in December 2018, Abhimanyu Kukreja’s documentary film “Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock” has managed to stay in the news, winning several accolades at film festivals across India, the USA and Europe. Despite the film’s success, Abhimanyu always had his eyes set on a digital release as it’s very rare for a documentary in India to get a theatrical release. But in a post-lockdown world witnessing fast-changing paradigms on the long road to recovery, the theatrical release has finally become a reality for Abhimanyu.
It all started with a 24-minute documentary titled “Rockumentary: Becoming of Indian Rock” that Abhimanyu made while working as an entertainment journalist for a news channel back in 2008. The underlying idea was to document the development of rock music in India. When Abhimanyu first started the research there wasn’t even a Wikipedia page on Indian rock. Today, of course, there exists a full-fledged page. So, all the interviews that Abhimanyu conducted with the musicians were through word of mouth. He had to do lots of location recces and trails with artists. Naturally, he didn’t go to them straightaway carrying a camera. At first, he had convinced the musicians to trust him with the treasures of their lives.
From 2008 to 2012, he was researching and simultaneously trying to convince the bands to talk to him. In 2012, he finally found a couple of co-producers who were willing to fund the project and so that’s when the actual shooting started. Finally out in its finished form, “Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock” is told through eight sprawling chapters spread across eight decades starting with the 1930s. It unfolds at a breezy pace as Abhimanyu takes us on a roller coaster ride replete with priceless conversations with the likes of Louiz Banks, Lou Majaw, Susmit Bose, Bobby Cash, Gary Lawyer, Rahul Ram, Moa Subong, Subir Malik, Tipriti Kharbangar, Rudy Wallang, Luke Kenny, Usha Uthup, and Imtiaz Ali, among others.
The first chapter opens in the 1930s when a Gorkha musician named George Banks moves to India from Nepal and joins world-renowned American jazz pianist Teddy Weatherford’s band as a trumpeter in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta). The legendary George Banks’ virtuoso son Louiz Banks himself narrates the entire sequence of events starting with the ‘30s to the ‘50-‘60s when Kolkata’s Park Street becomes the undisputed home of rock music in India thanks to the phenomenon called Elvis Presley. Presley inspired the likes of Iqbal Singh, the tall and handsome turbaned Sikh singing and dancing with aplomb, who not only earned the sobriquet of ‘Indian Elvis’ but also went on to cast a spell on the legendary music director duo of Shankar-Jaikishan, compelling them to launch him as a rock and roll sensation in a Hindi film. But everything changed in the ‘70s with the departure of the Anglo-Indian clientele from India trigged by various socio-political changes in Kolkata at the turn of the decade.
The Beatles’ famous trip to an ashram in Rishikesh naturally finds an important place in the documentary as Abhimanyu himself takes an adventurous ride on his two-wheeler to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in an attempt to trace the iconic band’s exploits during their stay in India. The documentary film also introduces us to the rise of Atomic Forest, India’s first psychedelic and hard rock band, in the early-1970s. We are also introduced to All-India Simla Beat battle of the band’s contests held in 1970 and 1971 that resulted in Simla Beat 70/71—a garage rock compilation issued by Normal Records consisting of recordings of the bands which attended the annual events.
The documentary also explores the subgenres of rock and roll that have evolved over the years with many upcoming local banks in different parts of the country exploring hitherto uncharted territories. We are introduced to folk-rock, Hindi rock, and various regional forms of non-English rock in India. During his visit to Shillong, Abhimanyu learns that Shillong’s description as India’s rock capital is highly misplaced. He interviews a bunch of local musicians who tell him that Shillong is actually home to various genres such as country music, blues, etc. and so to narrow it down to rock music isn’t fair at all. As a matter of fact, Soulmate, the best blues band of India, belongs to Shillong.
The film must be commended for its encyclopedic scope and rich historic detail. Some other important bands to feature in the documentary include Avial, Agnee, Blue Temptation, The Local Train, The Vinyl Records, The Circus, Undying Inc, Peter Cat Recording Company, and Summersalt, among others. An interesting recurring motif in Abhimanyu’s film is the exploration of historically iconic venues such as Rang Bhavan and Slip Disc in recent times or the restaurants in Park Street, Kolkata like Trincas, Mocambo, and Blue Fox during the early days of rock and roll in India. Some of these venues have gone defunct owing to various reasons while others have endured in one form or the other. Abhimanyu ends the documentary with the hope of expanding it into an exhaustive documentary series on Indian rock.
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I HAVE A SMALL BUT IMPACTFUL ROLE IN ‘BELL BOTTOM’: VAANI KAPOOR
Mumbai : Vaani Kapoor, who was last seen in the 2019 hit film ‘War’, is thrilled that she got the opportunity to work opposite Akshay Kumar in ‘Bell Bottom’, a movie in which she has a small but impactful role. Vaani, who made her Bollywood debut with the 2013 romantic-comedy ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’, said the decision to do ‘Bell Bottom’ was instant because she got a chance to share the screen with her matinee idol. Vaani said, “I’m fortunate to have got the opportunity to work with one of the icons of Hindi cinema today, Akshay Kumar sir. I’m deeply thankful for his trust and faith. I have a small but impactful role in BellBottom which I’m hoping will be loved by audiences and critics alike.” She added, “I’m just thrilled that my journey in cinema so far has enabled me to be a part of the film and fact that I could share screen space with Akshay sir, who is larger than life and such a great person, the decision was a no-brainer.”
SONU SOOD JOINS SPECIAL OLYMPICS BHARAT AS BRAND AMBASSADOR
MUMBAI : Indian actor and philanthropist Sonu Sood has always been a step forward to aid those in need, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ‘Dabangg’ star has added another feather to his cap by becoming the brand ambassador of India at the Special Olympics to be held in Russia.
Sonu announced the news on his Instagram account with a picture of him wearing the jersey and posing with the Special Olympics Red Ball. He wrote, “Feeling proud today as I’m chosen to be the Brand Ambassador for India at the #SpecialOlympics to be held in Russia! I’m sure our champions will make us proud and I wish them all the best! Jai Hind.”
The virtual event of the inaugural session was viewed by over 500 athletes, coaches, families, officials and volunteers.
VICKY KAUSHAL GIVES A GLIMPSE OF HIS INTENSE WORKOUT ROUTINE
MUMBAI: Struggling to motivate yourself to workout? Don’t worry. Actor Vicky Kaushal’s latest Instagram post will definitely inspire you to burn some calories.
On Monday, Vicky took to the photo-sharing application and posted a picture of him lifting weights. His facial expressions while working out clearly indicates that he is giving it his all to achieve a perfect body.
“Wip (Work in progress),” he captioned the post. Vicky’s picture left netizens stunned. “Beast. Beast. Beast,” a user commented. “Oh my god…real transformation in making,” another user wrote.
Reportedly, Vicky is undergoing intense fitness training for his role in ‘The Immortal Ashwatthama’, which is being helmed by Aditya Dhar. Vicky will also be seen in ‘Sardar Uddham Singh’, ‘Takht’, and ‘Sam Bahadur’.
ANUSHKA SHARMA ACES STREET STYLE FASHION IN UK
LONDON : Anushka Sharma is known for acing her sartorial looks be it a red carpet gown or a simple airport look and on Sunday the actor gave more proof of it during a casual stroll in the streets of Nottingham in the UK.
Anushka is currently in the UK with her husband Virat Kohli and their 6-month-old daughter Vamika as India tours England for a cricket series. The actor took to her Instagram handle and shared a series of solo pictures that sees her strolling the streets of Nottingham.
The first snap catches her million-dollar smile as breeze runs through her hair; the second and third picture shows her taking a stroll as she enjoys the English weather. While the pictures are proof that the ‘Patal Lok producer is spending a Happy Sunday in England, what not to miss is the street style fashion that she has totally graced. Anushka is seen sporting a casual black tee with wide-leg ripped jeans, paired with white sneakers. Keeping her luscious locks open in air, the actor looks classy and street-style chic.
SAAHIL BHARGAVA’S KOHIMA NOMINATED AT LA SHORTS FILM FEST
CHENNAI: Los Angeles based Mumbai boy Saahil Bhargava’s music video Kohima has been nominated at the prestigious LA Shorts International Film Festival in two key categories- animation and music video. An elated Saahil Bhargava talks about his song Kohima.
What is the thought behind Kohima? Kohima is about a soldier’s experience at war. It is inspired by the Battle of Kohima, a WW2 conflict that took place in Northeastern Indian in 1944. Rather than focus on the entire war, it focuses on one individual soldier’s emotions. His panic, his desperation and sheer desire to survive and go home. I chose this concept because I wanted to explore the experience of an individual soldier, and I found that the Battle of Kohima was this horrific brutal battle that is not talked about enough even though it is a crucial battle both in Indian history and WW2 history.
When did you start your journey as a musician ? I started singing as a little kid, and eventually started to play classical/jazz piano, rock/metal guitar, bass guitar and the alto sax. I kept studying music and eventually found myself studying musical theater after college. That is what made it all click for me, as my music being stories allows me to combine all my skills as a singer, songwriter, composer, writer and actor.
You have directed and sung Kohima. How did you manage both roles ? I worked on the music first. Starting with lyrics and then eventually doing the music. The trickiest part in the music process was getting the vocals right, as I really had to get into the head of the character, in this case the soldier, and convey his emotions through that lens. Once the song was recorded, I worked with Keshav Dhar (of Skyharbor) on the mixing/mastering elements. After the entire song was completed, I then was able to work with Harmeet Rahal with support from Big Bang Music. Harmeet and I worked together on getting the right visual style for the song, with him driving the design and visuals, while I focused more on the character/story elements. Given my background working in Animation with Rainshine Entertainment, it’s not my first time doing an animation project, but Kohima was special because it was a music video with a very clear focus. We wanted to get the main character’s emotions across, and as a result the video does highlight his face and the dread he is feeling.
SRK SENDS BEST WISHES TO INDIAN WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM
MUMBAI : After the Indian women’s hockey team made history by defeating Australia to book their place in the semi-final for the first time in the Olympics, superstar Shah Rukh Khan took to his Twitter to congratulate the girls in his unique way.
SRK played an important role in popularising hockey in the country years ago when he played the iconic role of a hockey coach, Kabir Khan in the hit movie ‘Chak De! India’.
Shah Rukh addressed himself as Kabir Khan while giving his best wishes to the Indian women’s hockey team. “… Just bring some Gold on your way back….for a billion family members. This time Dhanteras is also on 2nd Nov. From: Ex-coach Kabir Khan,” SRK wrote.
Responding to SRK’s post on Twitter, Marjine thanked the former for his support. “Thank you for all the support and love. We will give everything again. From: The Real Coach,” Marjine tweeted. Actors who played the role of hockey players in ‘Chak De! India’ also congratulated the real-life Indian women’s hockey team on their win. Actor Vidya Malavade, who essayed the role of the team captain, took to Instagram and shared a picture of the reel vs real team. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since morning and I was just a part of the reel ..This .. These women are the real deal ..such pride .. such grit .. so much power.. Team INDIA Onwards and Upwards ladies ..#JAIHIND Here’s wishing Rani and her team all the very very best .. Go conquer girls.” she wrote.
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