Necessity is the mother of creation for Abhimanyu Kukreja, the director of Rockumentary: Becoming of Indian Rock, a 24-minute documentary that explores the state of rock music in India. Abhimanyu, who began his career as an entertainment journalist, felt that there was a lack of space for rock, “India has always been rich in Hindustani and Carnatic music, which have been the major influences for every musician,” he says. Since nobody made an effort to document the development of rock music, Abhimanyu took it upon himself to direct the film in 2008, which is now followed up with a forthcoming second part Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock.
Between 2007 and 2012, Abhimanyu did extensive research on the Indian rock music scene, travelling throughout the country to carry out interviews with musicians and to record their music. He feels that the westernisation of Indian youth brought about the prevalence of this genre of music. “As a fan, I always felt there was a lot written about rock in western countries. But nothing much was available in India. rock and roll hit me on a personal and professional front, and I was fortunate to interview huge names like Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Wes Borland (bassist of Limp Bizkit), Jethro Tull and Pandit Ravi Shankar among others,” he recalls.
Meanwhile, Abhimanyu took up assignments in the film industry to keep the creative juices flowing. “Nothing much happened on the Rockumentary front as I had no investor. It was somewhere in the middle of this period that I was approached by Saurav Dutta on social media, who offered to produce the film. The funding of this film has been quite inconsistent, which is understandable, considering that both my producers are independent and have their own financial issues,” he says, adding that the last part of Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock was funded by Elizabeth Coffey.
“The concept of Indian rock was released in 2008. But I wanted to do a longer version independently, without any interferences from mainstream channels, which have their own guidelines,” says Abhimanyu.
Listening to tunes
Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock is an attempt to capture unheard tunes that made inroads into a country dominated by traditional and classical music. The documentary is presented through a series of interviews with established musicians, who have been the nucleus in the evolution of rock post-Independence and till the late ‘90s. Abhimanyu hopes to highlight the circumstances that helped rock and roll emerge as a pop-culture phenomenon among the Indian youth. “We have interviewed some of the biggest names in Indian rock music like Louiz Banks, Usha Uthup, Moa Subong and Arenla Subong (Abiogenesis) to name a few.”
Rockumentary: Evolution of Indian Rock had its international première at Australian Music Week Film Festival earlier this year. Unfortunately, Abhimanyu couldn’t make it to the screening. “Looking at our Facebook event page, Rockumentary seems to have created good buzz among people,” he says.