Rock On! brought to life the world of rock music and friendship and as the film clocks 15 years of its release, actor Arjun Rampal gets nostalgic. He recalls what all went behind the scenes for the film and its various characters to come together. “Wow, you’re actually taking me 15 years back… I remember how learning to play the instruments and singing was one of the main criteria for the entire cast. While Farhan (Akhtar, co-actor) already played the guitar, Purab (Kohli, co-actor) learned the drums, and I had to learn the guitar. We truly became musicians in the process,” gushes the 50-year-old.
‘I was blown away by the script’
Rampal, who played the role of Joseph Mascarenhas in the film, fondly recalls how he got selected for the role. “I still remember the moment when Farhan and I first discussed the film. We had already done Don (which Farhan directed) together, and then we met at the launch of his magazine in Jodhpur, and he approached me with the idea of a script centered around a rock band. He believed I’d be the perfect fit for one of the characters named Joe. He said he’d have (director) get in touch with me. It was actually just a passing thing. But after reading the script he sent two days later, I was blown away. Joe’s character resonated with me deeply, and I immediately agreed to be a part of it,” recounts the actor.
‘I was going to break my guitar on Gattu’s head’
While Rampal was sold the moment he read the script, it wasn’t an easy task for him to actually bag the role. He recalls a humorous incident with the director, who’s fondly called Gattu in the industry. “Gattu initially had doubts about my suitability for the role. He came home, saw me, and said, ‘I don’t know yaar, you have to be good looking to be Joe.’ I thought I was going to break my guitar on his head only,” the 50-year-old laughs, and adds, “I kind of gave him an impromptu audition then and there. I donned a moustache and shorts and we even did a couple of readings, after which he gave a nod. However, I don’t think he was that convinced, because he had a different kind of image of Joe in his mind. But, when we went on the set and I did a scene. He came into the van and hugged me to say, ‘You are my Joe’. And that was the moment.”
Single take scene
Among several memorable moments from the shooting days, Rampal points out this one particular scene which was shot in single take. “There’s a scene where I come to sing Sinbad The Sailor, when my wife Debbie (Shahana Goswami) comes on the stage, and Farhan gives me a nudge on the shoulder and whispers in my ear that, ‘Joe, Debbie is here, grocery bill lekar.’ I controlled myself from laughing, I gave her a look, and we had a moment. It’s that one take, and that’s the take which was used in the film,” he tells us.
Friendship from them to now
One of the most quintessential elements of Rock On! was the camaraderie its cast members shared, and the actor says it extended beyond the screen, too. Reflecting on the enduring bond that were formed on set, he shares, “Rock On! created a unique bond among us. To this day, we call each other by our character names. Farhan is still Adi to me, and I’m Joe to him. Even after all these years, there’s a strong emotional connection that we share.”