Rock On (2008) – 15 Years Later: Purab Kohli Reflects on the Trendsetting Musical Drama

Filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On (2008) starring Farhan Akhtar (in his big screen debut), Arjun Rampal, Luke Kenny, Purab Kohli, and Prachi Desai was a trendsetter in many ways. It was first-of-its-kind, cool, nuanced, and had rock music seamlessly blending into a narrative that spelled new-age. The film opened to rave reviews with the performances of the cast and the writing being appreciated. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s melodies were the beating heart of the musical drama.

A National Award Winner

In 2010, Rock On went on to win the National Award in the Best Feature Film (Hindi) category. The film’s unique blend of music, storytelling, and performances left a lasting impact on Indian cinema.

Exclusive Interview with Purab Kohli

As the film clocks 15 years of its release today, Smartkhabrinews exclusively catches up with Purab Kohli, who played KD, Magik’s drummer, in it. While he began his television career as an actor, he earned wide recognition as a video jockey. And so, he credits Rock On for propelling his acting career and changing the film industry’s perception of him.

“Being a part of a hugely successful film like this straightway led to more people in the country knowing who I was and there was a bigger audience to watch films that had me in them. So, yes, my positioning and industry’s perception changed and they thought that here’s an actor who they could actually use and that I could be a part of bigger films,” he shares.

Unity Among the Cast

With so many actors in a film, were there ever any ego battles on set? “There weren’t any insecurities on set. Our characters were very well-defined, where each character had its moment and glory including the girl character. The film was primarily about the boys and the band. It was quite a well-rounded story. Ego clashes aren’t a myth in general. But that’s not something that was at play during the shoot of Rock On,” he tells us candidly.

At the time when Rock On 2 (2016) was released, reports started doing the rounds about a ‘showdown’ between Purab and Arjun. Quiz him about it and Purab says, “That was completely ridiculous! I don’t know where that comes from (laughs). There were no showdowns. There weren’t any egos between us, off-screen. But on-screen, there were ego tussles between Joe (Arjun’s character) and Adi (Farhan’s character). As actors, we all got along really well and loved being a part of Rock On.”

Longing for Multi-Starrers

Wishing for more multi-starrers like Rock On to be made, Purab opines, “I also ask myself why enough of them don’t get made. One of my favourite Bollywood films is Naseeb (1981). If you look at Nasir Hussain’s films, they were some beautiful multi-starrer films. But they don’t get made anymore. I also hear that there are egos at play sometimes but I hope that people can set those egos aside and be confident enough to do multi-starrers. Great stories can be told that way.”

The Disappointing Sequel

But while Rock On went on to become a trailblazer, its sequel met with an underwhelming response at the box office with critics giving it negative reviews. Purab too was ‘disappointed’ with it.

“I was definitely overwhelmed with the response Rock On received and it would have been great if Rock On 2 was a massive success too. But we had a lot of elements at play including the demonetization that happened during the release of the film. All that contributed to the film not being received well by the audience,” he points out.

Hope for the Future

With sequels continuing to be a dominant trend in showbiz, is there a possibility of Rock On 3 being made? “No conversation has happened as yet. I’m waiting for my phone to ring and that conversation to start. But you never know. There’s Don 3 happening, so there’s room for Rock On 3 too. Someone should call Excel and ask them (laughs). I’m hoping for that and I’m sure that everybody is also hoping for it,” he says with a laugh.

As we celebrate 15 years of Rock On, Purab Kohli’s reflections give us a glimpse into the impact this musical drama had on his career and the film industry at large.

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