Composer: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Actor and director Farhan Akhtar is singing again. If the sound of that sentence doesn’t ache your heart, then listen to Rock On 2. Even his auto-tuned voice in the sequel to Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On!! is so off key that one wonders why an unworthy voice such as Akhtar’s gets so much airtime and attention. There are such brilliant bands in the country at this time, who can do a much better job with the kind of sound needed for a project such as this. The album doesn’t even have the earworm quality that a couple of tracks had in Rock On!!. Then there is the sore throat texture of Farhan’s voice, which is helping no one. Certainly not Shankar Ehsaan Loy (SEL), who as composers have tried their best to make do with two voices they got — Farhan Akhtar and Shraddha Kapoor. Kapoor does come across as a notch better but the two are not singers and the producers need to understand that. The orchestration is brilliant (it’s SEL). They’ve done their best to salvage this album too. But even the best composition needs a singer.
Farhan launches himself into Jaago — a flaccid take on a decent track. The only thing that works in Jaago is the repetition of one riff on the electric guitar and Siddharth Mahadevan’s voice. As much as the composers have tried to cleverly mask Farhan’s voice by using fine orchestration and Siddharth’s voice, it fails to work. This is followed by Kapoor and Shankar singing Udja re, which is one of the better tunes here. Kapoor’s voice is smoothened but tolerable. The song is quite superficial but she puts in the right emotion and isn’t completely off key.
Then comes the most cringeworthy piece of the album. You know is horrible. And there is no better way of putting this. A promising prelude on the guitars opens the piece, until the first line throws up its absymal self. It’s like a five-year-old reciting poetry his daddy made him learn. A 43-year-old doing this isn’t cute. Manzar naya’s cascading acoustic guitar riff helps us come out of the trauma a little. Until Farhan begins to croon again. By this time the album is making us quite uncomfortable and angry. And then Farhan attempts an off key falsetto. So alarmed are we that the next one, Kapoor’s Tere mere dil proves to be soothing. She tackles the falsettos and the basics of an ordinary tune well. Akhtar’s lyrics don’t do much most of the time.
There are surprises in the form of How kiw/ Chalo chalo by North Eastern band Summersalt and Usha Uthap, and Ishq mastaana. These two tracks give you an idea of the impressive directions SEL can take when given strong vocalists. The former, a khasi song merged with Hindi lyrics, folk drums and guitars is the best track of the album, has an earthy sound that merges beautifully with electronic music. Ishq mastaana has an electronic tumbi and dholak prelude that merges with drums and electric guitars. The piece sounds as if from SEL’s world of recent tunes — the fantastic ones in Mirzya.
What’s disconcerting in this album is the confidence with which Farhan belts out songs, the expressionless pieces that should remain limited to his home. A shout-out to Soulmate, Backstratblues, Ska Vengers, Demonic Resurrection and others — the real rockstars. The status shouldn’t be with a talented director who is a terrible singer.