In 2008, when the creative flair of the early 2000s Hindi cinema had all but died down, Farhan Akhtar once again brought us an unexpected film in Rock On!!. Only this time he was not directing, but acting on screen and singing and it was all quite enjoyable. True to its name, the film had a strong soundtrack of rock music, and while they are all good songs, some excellent, the one that always stands out to me is the exquisitely lounge Yeh, tumhari meri baatein. Maybe the religious musical taxonomist would call it ‘soft rock’ or some such. Whatever it qualifies as, it’s beautiful.
More a music montage, inter-cut with dialogue and mini scenes, than typical song video, Yeh, tumhari meri baatein does a wonderful job of not just setting a musical mood, but also of moving the story forward. There is plenty of story to tell in Rock On!!, not so much a coming of age story but more one of age, of dreams forgotten along the way. The film really does fair very well in the small but strong sub-genre of films about music and its powers and sway over the people who love it. If you love music or have ever had a passion for something, this film will strike a chord, and this song is very much about continuing passions.
Since the song plays over scenes of the film, it does feature almost the entire star cast of the film which is considerable. Farhan Akhtar and Prachi Desai feature heavily, being almost the central focus of the film. Yeh, tumhari meri baatein can easily be seen as the inner voice of the character played by Prachi Desai and her changing relationship with her husband. But the song is about changes and continuity, and love in several guises, so many stories feature, including Arjun Rampal and Shahana Goswami‘s domesticity, Luke Kenny‘s successes, and Purab Kohli‘s growing interest in his music and in Koel Purie. All this is acted as subtly and maturely as the rest of this film is by all involved, and director Abhishek Kapoor and cinematographer Jason West make everyone and everything that extra bit more beautiful and well-lit.
As much as there is going on screen, this song is good enough to overshadow all of it. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy really do outdo themselves with the simplicity and richness of the music on this one. It does more than grow on you, and you you will find yourself humming it for days after the experience of it has faded. That repeating motif of guitar notes just refuses to let go. The singing by Dominique Cerejo just complements the magical mood of the music perfectly. She is earnest, soft and soulful all at once, and it’s difficult to imagine any of the more recognised singing voices doing this as much justice.
Javed Akhtar‘s lyrics are hopeful, minimal and stripped down, leaving the lines short with a lot to read between them. As with the music, there is a glowing, magical quality to the words.
Yeh, tumhari meri baatein,
Hamesha yunhi chalti rahen,
Yeh, hamari mulakatein,
Hamesha yunhi chalti rahen,
Beetein yunhi apne sare, din raat,
Baaton se nikalti rahe nai baat.
These, our banters shared,
May they continue forever,
These, our trysts dared,
May we always endeavour.
All our nights and days, may they pass this way,
Every conversation leading into another’s sway.
Rock On!! was a very special film, and in all that inspiring wonder of characters, stories and music, Yeh, tumhari meri baatein is a very special song. It goes without saying that over time I will be tempted to feature every song on this soundtrack here, but I thought it was appropriate to start with the most magical one as the 50th song in this, our continuing cavalcade of the best Indian songs.