Film: Rock On 2
Label: Zee Music Company
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Sequels, especially of musicals, are a dicey call. The music has to — all at once — suit the canon, trends and tastes that have changed (it’s been eight years since the first film), and also suit the new film’s storyline.
How do Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy manage? Ditto Javed Akhtar? Do we see an evolution in the singing expertise of Farhan Akhtar? Let’s analyze.
The lead track, “Jaago,” sung by Farhan Akhtar (who again sings most tracks) has a haunting prelude riff that continues as an ‘under-layer’ throughout the song. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are inspirational, but neither fresh nor path-breaking. Farhan Akhtar as a singer makes the extra effort, especially in stretching his notes, and the music is quite catchy but does not linger like most of the tracks from the earlier film.
Shraddha Kapoor sings “Udja Re” in a full-throated manner, and the lyrics are again nice but predictable, with the novel touch, “Yeh jeena bhi socho koi jeena hai / Ke ab insaan machine hai banne laga.” Fanciful terms like “tanhai ke ajgar (the pythons of loneliness)” lend a fresh but rather over-metaphorical feel, but I loved the way Kapoor goes high-pitched. Farhan Akhtar gives backing vocals support.
“You Know What I Mean” is a (deliberate?) hark back in general tenor to “Picchhle Saat Dinon Mein” from the earlier film and is a simple tip-toe melody embellished with the right sounds of a live rock band. Farhan Akhtar is in sync with the song, and his slightly off-key tone suits the tone and situation of the composition. Javed Akhtar once told this critic that he was exasperated with the younger generation’s vague way of saying “You know what I mean” and uses it fruitfully here!
“Manzar Naya” (Farhan Akhtar again) is a slow song that needs repeated listens to register. The lyrics, music and vocals are average. Also on over-familiar ground is “Tere Mere Dil” (Shraddha Kapoor) that has some resemblance to “Socha Hai” from the earlier film in tenor. But Kapoor again handles the composition well with its unconventional meters.
“Woh Jahaan” (Farhan Akhtar and Kapoor) is the weakest spot in the album despite a novel lyrical structure talking about a rare paradise where everything is perfect. Maybe it is completely situational, so we will leave it hopefully at that!
That brings us to the scene-stealer of the score in the audio sense, “How Kiw / Chalo Chalo” (Usha Uthup, Kit Shangpliang and Pynsuklin Syiemiong), with a catchy ongoing beat. The words in the Khasi language (an Austroasiatic language spoken in the Meghalaya state in India by the Khasi people, as well as in Assam and Bangladesh) are written by Shangpliang with the follow-up Hindi words (a translation?) by Javed Akhtar. Uthup, rousing and hugely resonant as always, is superb and so are the other two singers. The music is brilliant.
“Ishq Mastana” (Digvijay Singh Pariyar and Shankar Mahadevan) is that obligatory attempt at Sufi meets rock and is a catchy contemporary composition. The music and lyrics are decent.
To sum it up, S-E-L do a nice job, though, at the cost of being a nit-picker, the score could have been more inspired and uniform, just like the older film. Javed Akhtar also said that his lyrics gave rock music a depth it normally lacked in the earlier film, and we wish he had done it here as well. Farhan Akhtar has improved as a singer, and Kapoor does an accomplished job. So, though the score suffers vis-à-vis the original, it still isn’t below par. And that is huge for today’s times!
Listen to the "Rock On 2" audio jukebox: